With the healthcare industry growing at such a rapid pace, the number of opportunities for individuals looking to established careers in the industry are numerous. At current, the healthcare industry is fostering the fastest growing job market. This trend is expected to continue through the year 2020 and beyond. What this means is that there will be career opportunities is a number of healthcare related fields. One of the most popular career fields to enter into in the healthcare industry is that of medical assistant.
If you have determined that you wish to work as a medical assistant, your next decision will have to be whether you want to pursue a medical assisting degree or diploma. For many individuals who are contemplating this decision it can often be confusing. The first thing that you will need to do in order to help you make a wise decision is to gain a lucid understanding of the difference between the two paths. Once you understand the difference between a degree and diploma in medical assisting, you will then be able to evaluate your current situation, future plans and aspirations to help you make an educated decision.
A Good Place to Start
Many former medical assistants agree that becoming a medical assistant is a great starting point, allowing you to get your foot in the door. Both a diploma and degree offer a comprehensive and practical course criteria, including physiology, performing EKGs, anatomy, administering injections as well as venipuncture. Both programs will also require you to complete an internship at a medical facility or doctor’s office, providing the practical experience that is vital to gaining and developing certain skills. The length of the internship may vary by institution, but you can expect to commit to at least 200 to 250 hours. It is recommended that you involve yourself in volunteer work prior to entering school, regardless of which route you decide to take.
There are a number of similarities associated with both, the medical assisting diploma and degree; however, there are some important differences. A medical assisting Associate’s degree has a higher academic demand associated with it – requiring at least 30 more credits than the diploma. Normally the program requires two years to complete, but it can take longer for those who are attending school part time. The academic requirements associated with an Associate’s degree in medical assisting will afford you and opportunity to further your career by apply your credits toward a Bachelor’s degree in a number of related fields such as nursing. You can also pursue a Bachelor’s degree in healthcare management, which will allow to use your experience to manage an office environment.
In contrast, you can complete the course for the medical assisting diploma in approximately a year, allowing you to enter the workforce much sooner. The cost will be considerably less than it would be for earning an Associate’s degree in medical assisting; however, the opportunities to advance are much more limited.
Weighing all the Factors
For some, the decision will be primarily based on preference, deciding if they want to spend two years in school or one as well as determining how far they are looking to take their career in healthcare.
For others there are a number of variables that will weigh heavily on their decision. If you are in a financial situation in which you are in need of a job immediately, you may be forced to take the more expeditious path to being a medical assistant. You may not have the luxury to attend school full-time for two years.
If you are really committed to a long term career in healthcare, you may be willing to pursue different means of financing your education for the full two years.
Another consideration that you must consider is the places that you are considering as a possible employment options. It is a good idea to research jobs before you begin school. You may find that some of the jobs you covet may not apply the same gravity to the diploma as they do to the degree. This may impact you in one of two ways. They may not hire you at all if you don’t have a degree or the pay may be significantly lower. You should be able to find this out with a little research on the companies that you desire to work for most.
The work that will be performed by the medical assistant with the degree and the one with the diploma will basically be the same. The differences will primarily be in the pay and in career advancement opportunities.
Regardless to which direction you take, you will find that becoming a medical assistant places you on the path to entering the fastest growing job market in America. You simply have to determine exactly what route is best for you.