Medical Assistant Trade Schools and Vocational Schools in the U.S.

Students interested in medical assistant careers should select programs that offer both intensive in-class instruction as well as clinical hands-on training with local hospitals and medical centers.

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How to Select a Medical Assistant School

One of the most important aspects of a medical assistant school is that it is accredited by state or national agencies, which ensuring its students are likely to qualify for job opportunities and advancement. Medical assistant schools should offer comprehensive courses that cover medical terminology, clinical laboratory procedures, medical ethics and medical transcription.

A major portion of an aspiring medical assistant's education involves working with physicians and patients in a local hospital, clinic or doctor's office, since medical assistants work in hospitals, private clinics and in-patient or out-patient facilities. Students should check that their school offers a variety of potential work environments, to better acquire a more diverse range of patients, treatment modalities and experience with illnesses or injuries. Because state laws concerning medical assistants vary, some programs may be longer than others, and require an A.A.S. in Medical Assisting, rather than a short-term certificate of completion or diploma.

Medical assistants are in charge of both administrative and clerical duties as well as patient-oriented clinical tasks. Through such tasks as taking patients' medical histories, scheduling appointments and answering phones, medical assistants ensure a medical facility is run effectively.

Program Overviews

Diploma

A medical assisting diploma typically takes about one year to complete and includes courses in clinical procedures, phlebotomy, lab techniques and pharmacology. These diverse courses prepare students for the duties of a medical assistant and for required clinical internships. Students who live in states with applicable laws will be eligible to take the national certification exam.

Certificate

A certificate program takes two or three semesters to complete. Students learn how to complete various medical procedures and how to process and manage data. Like other programs, all students must complete a clinical practicum. Some programs may include a review class for the certification exam.

Associate of Applied Science

These 2-year degree programs include general education classes like psychology, history and speech as well as core classes in patient care, hematology, electrocardiography and basic surgical assisting. Students may also learn how to interact with patients and assist with clerical work. Associate's degree programs also include clinical practice and prepare students for national certification by way of passing a national board exam.

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