Associate of Applied Science (AAS): Medical Assisting Degree Overview
Individuals interested in helping others while working in the medical field may consider becoming a medical assistant. Earning an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Medical Assisting can help students to gain positions within hospitals, outpatient clinics or physician's offices.
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting
This program, typically two years in duration, prepares students for entry-level administrative and clinical positions in healthcare settings. Students typically spend part of the program learning administrative tasks, such as medical transcription, insurance coding and billing, medical record management and billing. The clinical portion teaches candidates to draw blood, administer medication, record medical histories and take vital signs.
In addition to having a high school diploma or equivalent, students may need to provide proof of English and math proficiency. They must also be able to complete clinical rotations during the day, night or weekends. Applicants are often required to submit to criminal background checks.
Coursework in a medical assisting associate degree program trains students in economic and legal theories, as well as general administrative tasks. In addition to general coursework, they complete lab studies and participate in supervised clinical rotations. Courses that medical assisting students take often include:
- Medical terminology
- Medical office procedures
- Medical business practices
- Human body systems
Popular Career Options
Medical assistants can find positions in many clinical settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical assistants could expect an employment increase of up to 31% between 2010 and 2020, providing them with many career possibilities (www.bls.gov). Medical assisting is considered, by the BLS, as one of the fastest growing careers for that decade. The May 2012 median wage for medical assistants was $29,370. Possible career titles for graduates of this program include:
- Clinical medical assistant
- Administrative medical assistant
- Administrative support
- Patient care coordinator
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of the medical assisting AAS program may seek immediate employment or transfer to 4-year colleges to advance their education in healthcare through a bachelor's degree. Certification is not required for employment, but is a way to demonstrate proficiency and knowledge of the standards. Individuals can obtain certification through the American Medical Technologists organization and the American Association of Medical Assistants. Certification in a specific specialty area is also available.
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