In order to become a medical assistant, you’ll first need to complete a training program. Medical assistant training is rigorous and complex to prepare you for the work you will do upon graduation. Here are some things you can expect when taking medical assistant classes.
You should have a high school diploma or GED prior to enrolling in a medical assistant training program. Depending on the school you choose, you may need a minimum score in mathematics on a college entrance exam such as the ACT or SAT.
Online or Campus Based
Most of the courses you take will be in a traditional classroom setting, since many of the skills you must learn require hands-on training. Even so, a few basic courses may still be offered online. Online courses are more likely to be administrative in nature rather than covering topics related directly to patient care.
You may be required to wear scrubs, a photo ID, and white tennis shoes while attending classes. For classes that require you to handle bodily fluids, you will also need to wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as latex gloves or a face mask.
Approximately half of your courses will be devoted to medical office administration, and may include classes such as:
- Medical law/HIPAA
- Medical risk management
- Medical billing
- Insurance procedures
These courses will likely be taught in a classroom setting, and may include practical exercises performed on a computer that simulate real-life patient encounters.
The other half of your coursework will prepare you for duties that require direct contact with the patient. A few of these medical-related courses include:
- Medical terminology
- Laboratory procedures
Clinical courses such as these may be taught in either a laboratory setting or a classroom. You may be asked to demonstrate certain procedures by “practicing” on live volunteers. Some schools actually require students to practice techniques on each other as well. Universal precautions are highly stressed during all these classes in order to ensure student safety.
During your training, you may also obtain certification in other areas such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or phlebotomy, which is the practice of drawing blood. These certifications are required by some employers, so earning them while you are a student will ensure you are ready to look for a job upon graduation.
Near the end of your studies, you will perform an externship at a local medical clinic or hospital. During this externship, you will work alongside an experienced medical assistant, and perform both administrative and clinical functions. Your school may provide you with a checklist of tasks to complete during your program, which can last anywhere from eight to twelve weeks. Satisfactory completion of this program is a must for graduation, so you must attend all scheduled work sessions and perform tasks in a satisfactory manner. Although externships are unpaid, they often lead to full-time employment later.
You may be given an opportunity to apply and/or test for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam given by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible, you must be near graduation, and attending a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Certification is not needed for employment, but could nonetheless give you an advantage over other applicants when searching for a job.
The information here is only a guideline, as each schools’ training program is different. To find out more about medical assistant classes in general, please feel free to contact us.