AAS in Clinical Medical Assisting: Degree Overview

Find details about an associate degree program in clinical medical assisting. Read information pertaining to prerequisites, common topics of study, professional certifications and job growth projections and salary figures for medical assistants.

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Essential Information

Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree programs in clinical medical assisting provide students with the knowledge and experience needed to work as qualified assistants in medical facilities. Students learn to assist doctors with medical examination and perform clerical duties. These programs feature a combination of clinical lab-based education mixed with traditional classroom learning. Topics range from medical office procedures to drug administration and specimen processing.

These AAS degree programs typically take 15-24 months to complete and are available through community colleges, vocational schools and some universities. Respected programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.com). Medical assistants typically need to have certification in order to enter the workforce and be considered for the best positions, and graduates of an AAS in clinical medical assisting program are usually prepared to take necessary certification exams.

Educational Prerequisites

A high school diploma or equivalent education is required to enter an AAS in Clinical Medical Assisting degree program. Additionally, students should be qualified to take comprehensive English and mathematics at the collegiate level. Some programs also require students to take introductory courses prior to taking major courses in medical assisting.

Course Topics

AAS degree programs in clinical medical assisting teach students required clinical and administrative procedures used in the career field. Common courses cover these topics:

  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Computer application software
  • Medical terminology
  • Human disease types
  • Medical office administration
  • Medical transcription
  • Clinical lab procedures
  • Billing and insurance procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical coding

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Medical assistant graduates can enter the career field where the outlook for clinical medical assistants should be excellent. There is a 29% job growth expected for all medical assistants from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS (www.bls.gov). The increasing demand for healthcare support services, an aging population and emerging technology will help fuel this growth.

Salary earnings may vary depending on an assistant's work experience, skill level, employer type and location. The BLS notes that the mean annual salary for medical assistants in May 2012 was $30,550. In Alaska, the highest-paying state in the nation, medical assistants averaged $39,900 per year. Overall, the top ten percent of medical assistants throughout the U.S. earned $41,570 or more per year. Most medical assistants work in the continually evolving area of primary care and most worked in physician's offices.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

The American Association of Medical Assistants offers a professional certification exam to gain the Certified Medical Assistant credential (www.aama-ntl.org). Continuing education units (CEUs) are required every five years for those who pass the exam. Common CEU courses are required in the areas of general, administrative and clinical medical assisting.

The American Medical Technologists offer a number of specialty certifications for medical assistants who wish to advance their careers (www.americanmedtech.org). The BLS notes some of the common specialty options, which include optometry, ophthalmology or podiatry. Medical assistants may also pursue further education to enter other healthcare careers, such as registered nursing.

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