Medical Assistant Schools: What You Need to Know

choosing medical assistant schools

Medical assistant schools are popping up in record numbers to meet a growing demand for qualified medical professionals. Due to medical advancements and a growing population of older people, the country is facing a huge deficit of healthcare workers.

More people than ever are drawn to medical assistant schools because of the flexibility and fast training period. Some students earn their certification in just a few months. Many programs can also be completed entirely online. This is a great option for people with families or other scheduling needs.

What Makes Good Medical Assistant Schools

There is no legally-mandated certification medical assistants need to have. However, those who have some formal education are more likely to see their resume hit the short list.

On-the-job training was considered adequate training for decades, but that model is quickly being phased out. More than ever, hospitals, clinics and other care facilities want to hire candidates who are qualified to enter the position from day one.

The best medical assistant schools will cover a wide range of courses related to the job, including:

  • Human anatomy
  • Medical computer applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Lab techniques
  • First Aid
  • Medical administration
  • Medical ethics
  • Patient care and relations

You’ll also want to make sure the school you choose is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Schools (CAAHP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Medical Assistant schools accredited by one of the above-mentioned organizations have been carefully examined to ensure they will prepare students for a career in healthcare.

What Are the Degree or Certificate Options?

Most medical assistant schools will offer two educational paths, a certificate or an associate degree. A certificate is a great option for those who already have an associate or bachelor’s degree in another area and want to make a career change. Going for a certificate could have you ready to start working in just a few months.

For new students, an associate degree may be the best way to go. These programs usually last around 18 months to two years. An associate degree opens up more opportunities for further education and advancement further down the road. For instance, many medical assistants choose to go back to school after a couple of years to become a registered nurse or physician assistant.

Post-Graduation: Getting Certified

While there’s no mandate requiring certification, it’s a good idea. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) is the most widely recognized certification body in the United States.

The AAMA administers the exam that provides medical assistant schools graduates with the certification needed to work for any hospital or clinic in the United States. The organization requires candidates to apply for the exam to verify all the educational criteria was met prior to taking the certification test.

This exam application costs graduates and completing students of accredited programs $125, so make sure you supply all the requested materials and documentation.

While it is not mandatory, certification has plenty of advantages. Not only does it instill confidence in employers, it will also provide you with a professional edge over the non-certified competition.

Opportunities are abundant in the healthcare realm and job prospects are only growing for qualified, educated workers. There has never been a better time to start looking into medical assistant schools.

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