Clinical Assistant Certificate and Certification Programs

Find out about the two types of clinical assistants. Learn about certificate programs for aspiring clinical assistants, as well as professional certifications in the field. Get details about educational prerequisites, program courses and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Clinical medical assistants perform administrative tasks for health professionals, take and record patients' histories and vital signs, and perform diagnostic lab tests. Certificate programs take one year or less to complete and are offered through community, technical or vocational colleges.

Clinical laboratory assistant certificate programs prepare students for clinical tasks by providing opportunities for hands-on training. Students develop necessary administrative skills, such as knowing how to perform clerical and accounting procedures and verify insurance documentation. They also learn about clinical duties, including specimen collecting, patient care and diagnostic testing. Most programs require on-site training through an internship or partnership with clinics near the institution.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to the clinical laboratory assistant certificate programs must possess a high school diploma or equivalent. The prospective laboratory assistants must also have earned C+ grades or higher in math and English, but they don't need experience in the medical field. Additionally, some programs require potential students to be up-to-date with immunizations, since they will interact with healthcare providers and their patients.

Program Coursework

Students in the clinical laboratory assistant certificate program learn about medical terminology and administrative tasks. Courses include topics such as biology, anatomy and computer usage. Some of the courses students may take include:

  • Laboratory safety
  • Psychology
  • Clinical laboratory science
  • Clinical experience
  • Healthcare practices
  • Communications

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The majority of medical assistants find employment in physician's offices; however, some work in hospitals and offices of other healthcare professionals, including chiropractors and podiatrists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), clinical assistant employment from 2010-2020 is expected to grow much faster than average with a projected increase of 31%. This increase is due to both the technological advances in the medical industry and the growth of the aging population. As reported by the BLS, the median hourly rate for medical assistants as of May 2012 was $14.69, which translates to $29,370 per year of full-time employment (www.bls.gov).

Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information

Graduates of clinical assistant certificate programs are eligible to sit through certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). It's important to note that certain employers require that their medical assistants be certified by the AAMA. Before graduates take the test, they must graduate from an accredited clinical assistant program and complete a practicum, which some programs already contain. Graduates may take the computer-based exam at any point, since there are tests offered throughout the year. On the date of the exam, students know before they leave if they have passed or failed the exam; however, the official scores are mailed 6-8 weeks later.

For continuing education, graduates can obtain a 2-year associate's degree in medical laboratory technology in order to become a clinical laboratory technician. Clinical lab technicians work under the supervision of clinicians or medical professionals and prepare specimens or manual tests on patients. They could also obtain a bachelor's degree in one of the life sciences to become a clinical laboratory technologist. Lab technologists analyze specimens, develop procedures and supervise clinical laboratory technicians.

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