Becoming a medical assistant is pretty straightforward and can be achieved fairly quickly when compared to other roles within the healthcare system, however before we go into how long it takes to become a medical assistant we’ll start by explaining what medical assistants do in order to provide you with a better understanding of their important role in the healthcare field.
Medical assistants work in a variety of healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics and physician offices.
These individuals provide additional support to physicians and other medical professionals so that they can spend more time focusing on tasks that are vital to their own position.
Because medical assistants are trained in both direct patient care and clerical work they can manage tasks such as measuring and recording patient vital signs, collecting test samples, drawing blood, dressing wounds, provide medication to patients, prepare, sterilize and manage medical devices/instruments, and in some cases administer injections and take X-rays.
In addition to working directly with patients medical assistants may also handle some of the clerical duties such as answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, filling out paperwork and insurance forms, entering patient data into the computer system, calling in prescriptions and educating patient on ways to improve their medical condition/lifestyle.
The amount of time it takes to complete the MA program and get certified will depend on your educational preferences and goals.
Most schools that offer a medical assistant program will offer either a 1 year or 2 year program.
The 1 year program will allow students to quickly earn a certificate or diploma so that they can quickly begin working, however students may be restricted in terms of career opportunities due to their educational limits.
Students who choose to participate in a 2 year program may go on to earn an associates degree as a medical assistant, which may allow them to have more diversity in their work an earn a higher salary.
Depending on the school offering a medical assistant program some educational institutes may offer a bachelor’s degree in medical assisting for those who are interested in pushing their career opportunities even further.
Some schools may allow students who have an associates degree in a social science field to continue on and earn a bachelors in medical assistance while others will specifically require students to have an associates in medical assistance before attending the bachelors program.
Those who participate in earning a bachelor’s degree may spend up to an additional two years in school learning about the field.
While students may have the opportunity to choose from a certificate, associates or bachelors program they will be able to begin working in an entry level position as a medical assistant after receiving their certificate/diploma and can continue to expand their educational while also working.
Many medical assistant programs offer flexible hours and schedules for students interested in taking the program, and may also provide online coursework to accommodate the individuals who participating in the program.
During the medical program students will learn about anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, first aid and patient care among other related topics in order to prepare them for their roles within the healthcare field.
Some medical programs may also include an internship program to provide additional hands on training and experience, which can be highly beneficial when looking to land a job or simply as a way to prepare oneself for what they’ll be doing once they graduate.
After completion of the medical assistant program students may be able to take a certification exam in order to become a certified medical assistant.
While this program may not be necessary in order to obtain a job as a medical assistant some physician offices and healthcare centers may either require certification or provide more opportunities to those who have earned and maintained their certification.
Certified medical assistants are required to renew their certificate every five years or so if they wish to maintain their certification.
Medical assistants are able to sign up for and take the certification program every few months as the program is offered 3 times per year.
Individuals who decide to take the certification may decide to add that time towards becoming a medical assistant if their employer requires it or they may be able to take it after employment to open up more job opportunities.
If you’d like to learn more about the certification exam you can do so here at the American Association of Medical Assistants.