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Online Medical Assistant Programs & Schools


Depending on your current life circumstances, it’s not always convenient to attend classes at a physical college campus.  Fortunately, there are online medical assistant programs that can supply the same level of education without the time and financial constraints of traditional college enrollment.  The coursework and study materials are hosted and communicated through the internet, allowing you to access them anywhere at any time. 

Becoming a Medical Assistant Medical Assistant Salary

Despite having a full-time career, family, and home responsibilities, many people have been able to launch their new path into the medical assistant community by taking advantage of the various online methods of instruction.  Car rides to work are suddenly transformed into study time as you listen to lectures on your smart phone.  Lunch breaks at work are now productive as you stream video clips on your laptop.  Comfortable study sessions can be had in the evenings at home as you contribute to the discussion boards and upload homework assignments.  You may even broadcast slideshow presentations to the class and professor through a webcam from your living room.  This is why online medical assistant programs are presently such a popular option.

It should be stated that you will still be responsible for procuring clinical practice and observation hours locally, which will demand a bit more of your time and attention.  Real experience in a functional healthcare facility will ensure you’ve developed the skills and can apply the knowledge you’ve learned in the field.

The Types of Online Medical Assistant Programs

Make sure any of the online medical assistant schools you research are accredited by the overseeing agencies mentioned above so that you can become certified.  After you’ve covered that basis, you can decide which type of program you need to pursue.

  • Diploma Programs – This type of program will graduate you with a diploma (not a degree) and prepare you with all of the knowledge needed to confront and pass the CMA certification exam.  It will require 12-18 months of your time to complete.
  • Certificate Programs - This program includes the above but will also prepare you for certification by helping you find a placement to obtain your clinical experience.  If you pass the certification test, you can graduate fully certified and ready to enter the work field, all in 12-18 months.
  • Associate’s Degree Programs – This program includes the aspects of both of the options above but also includes general education courses.  Graduation will provide you with an actual degree in the field, but will demand 24 months of your time.

Any of these programs are available and achievable online so that you don’t have to disrupt your current career and family obligations to move forward in life.  Filling in the gaps in your time by studying online while still maintaining your other responsibilities means there’s no reason for anyone to not pursue their goal of entering this exciting career path.

What A Medical Assistant Does

A medical assistant provides valuable frontline help and support to doctors, nurses, and a variety of other licensed medical professionals. Vital tasks they commonly perform on a day-to-day basis include processing incoming patients, taking patient histories, measuring vital signs, administering medications and injections, collecting and preparing bodily fluids and tissues specimens, answering phones, and processing computer data and paperwork.

Thanks to the high demand for medical assistants and the growing popularity of the vocation, there are a large number of schools and programs available in the United States and online that offer medical assistant training. Most of these training programs last for one or two years and are completed at a vocational school or a community college. There is also the option of taking courses from an online medical assistant school.

The information below discusses what a medical assistant can expect to do on a day-to-day basis, the different types of medical assistants, how to become a medical assistant, the benefits of becoming a certified/registered medical assistant, and a little more on medical assistant schools and programs online and in the United States.

The duties and responsibilities of a medical assistant differ slightly depending on the particular practice they work for. In some areas, they are also regulated by local state laws. However, the basics of what a medical assistant does on a day-to-day basis are the same pretty much everywhere. A medical assistant can expect to:

  • Perform bookkeeping tasks.
  • Organize paperwork and computer data.
  • Answer telephones and schedule appointments.
  • Complete insurance billing and coding.
  • Prepare office correspondence.
  • Prepare examination rooms for patients.
  • Record patient medical histories.
  • Measure height, weight, and vital signs.
  • Collect blood, tissue, and other specimens and prepare them for testing.
  • Prepare and administer physician-approved medications and injections.
  • Authorize drug refills and provide prescription information.
  • Provide patient education on treatment procedures, medications, nutrition, and physician's instructions.
  • Sterilize medical instruments.
  • Dispose of contaminated supplies.
  • Perform routine tests and analyses of samples.

Different Types of Medical Assistants

There are three primary types of medical assistants. These are clinical medical assistants, administrative medical assistants, and general medical assistants (both clinical and administrative). Medical assistants can also work with credentials as a certified or registered medical assistant.

Clinical medical assistants help physicians with day-to-day patient care. Though they are sometimes required to perform administrative tasks at smaller practices, most large practices have designated clinical medical assistants that perform duties related solely to patient care.

Administrative medical assistants help a medical practice with administrative duties. They often answer communications, schedule appointments, file insurance claims, maintain records, perform electronic medical coding, perform accounting, and manage billing.

General medical assistants take on both the tasks of a clinical assistant and an administrative assistant. They help medical practices with patient care and administrative duties.

Certified medical assistants perform the same tasks as both clinical and administrative assistants. The difference is the certification. More employers are demanding the very best from their medical assistants and a certification in the field will help you stick out. It demonstrates that you have the required knowledge and skills needed to provide the best service possible.

Registered medical assistants perform the same tasks as both clinical and administrative assistants. They have similar credentials to certified medical assistants. However, they must also have five years of experience (such as on-the-job training) or a medical assisting degree. Registered medical assistants have a slightly greater chance of receiving a job than certified assistants.

How To Become A Medical Assistant

Now is a better time than ever to begin a career as a medical assistant. According to www.allhealthcare.monster.com, 200,000 new medical assistants will be needed by the year 2016. This makes it one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States.

The easiest and most effective way to become a medical assistant is to attend a medical assistant school or enroll in an online medical assistant program. Most of these programs are two years in length. Courses are commonly offered at community colleges and vocational schools. Getting the best education possible is vital in finding a great job as a medical assistant.

Fortunately, there are dozens of medical assistant programs and schools across the country. Attending for one year often results in a certificate or diploma while attending for the full two years will result in an associate degree. The courses covered in a medical assistant program often include anatomy, physiology, typing, transcription, recordkeeping, accounting, insurance processing, and medical terminology.

Benefits of Becoming Certified

Though a medical assistant does not need to be certified to find work, certification certainly does help. Most employers now prefer to hire those that are certified. A medical assistant certification shows that you are able to meet all the standards of competence to perform the duties commonly required of medical assistants. This, in itself, gives you a greater choice of potential jobs to choose from. Certified medical assistants also enjoy better pay and more job stability.

Finding The Right Medical Assistant Program

The vast number of online medical assistant schools and programs has its advantages and disadvantages. It means there are a number of great options to choose from. But it also means that it can be difficult to find the perfect fit.

Though any medical assistant program is better than none, there are some out there that are better suited to certain individuals than others. Your best bet is to start your research early, before you even apply, to narrow down your choices right away.

Make sure that the school you choose offers the courses and programs that you require as well as the degree you are interested in. The program in question should also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Other factors to take into consideration include cost of tuition, the time classes are offered, the location of the school, common size of classes, and availability of internships.

Take all of these things into consideration and you are sure to find the perfect medical assistant school or online medical assistant program for you in no time at all.

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