Medical Assistant
Schools and Programs

The healthcare industry in the United States is growing rapidly with no signs of slowing down. In fact, most healthcare professions can expect impressive growth over the next decade. As healthcare continues to boom, medical assistants will be in high demand to support the growing field. This guide will discuss what a medical assistant is, how to become one and what to expect when working as a medical assistant.

Medical Assistant Schools and Programs

Medical assistants provide administrative and clinical support to doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff. Job duties can include filling out insurance forms, billing, administering medications, medical record keeping, collecting certain samples for testing, and performing routine medical tasks such as taking blood pressure and temperature.

Generally speaking, there is no formal educational requirement in order to become a medical assistant. However, most employers looking to hire medical assistants require an associate degree or certificate. Becoming a medical assistant can be a viable way to obtain employment and experience in the medical profession and learn how a medical office or organization works without having to attend four or more years of college. Since a certificate can be obtained in about one year of fulltime study and an associate degree in about two years, most medical assisting programs can be found in junior or community colleges.

Vocational Schools

Generally speaking, vocational schools do not offer associate degrees in medical assisting, but instead offer programs that lead to a certificate or diploma and training that will allow students to sit for a medical assisting certification exam, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) certification examination for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), the American Medical Technologists (AMT) certification examination for Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) examination for Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). Most medical assisting programs at vocational schools last about one year, depending on the program.

Community Colleges

In contrast to most vocational schools, community colleges with medical assisting programs offer associate degrees. They might also offer a medical assisting certificate or diploma program. Most community colleges offer either an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science degree for medical assisting. After completing either program, students should prepared to sit for a medical assisting certification exam.

Associate degree programs usually take two years to complete, assuming a full class load. In addition to class work related to medical assisting, the associate degree typically requires general education classes such as English, writing and history. These general education requirements vary depending on the school. One of the advantages of earning the associate degree is the ability to use the degree as a stepping stone; many of the associate degree classes often count toward the bachelor’s degree, effectively reducing a bachelor’s degree from four years to two if all associate degree requirements are met

Top Medical Assistant Programs: 2016-2017

Prospective students interested in maintaining patient care and quality of health may consider enrolling in a medical assistant degree program. A lot goes into choosing the best program for each student; especially with an increasing number of options in the medical field. To streamline this process, we ranked every school that offers medical assisting programs on variables including cost of tuition, graduation rates, percentage of students receiving financial aid. View the top medical assistant schools and programs here.

Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Pitt Community College
99.83 11% 3 17:1 N/A

For students interested in the administrative side of the medical profession, Pitt Community College offers a six-semester, two-year Medical Assistant Associates degree or a one-semester certificate program. The Associates degree will teach them everything from medical insurance coding and billing to Spanish for the workplace. Some courses needed to graduate, such a ethics or legal classes, can be taken online, allowing students with full schedules to work and take classes at the same time. On average, 95 percent of program graduates pass the national exam to becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, a certification that makes graduates more desirable to potential employers.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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2 Haywood Community College
99.82 9% 3 6:1 N/A

Haywood Community Colleges Associates degree in Medical Assisting requires 75 credit hours, which takes two years full-time, though the school allows students to complete the program part-time. It also includes a clinical component that allows students to gain real-world work experience. While Haywood Community College is located in the small town of Clyde, the school is less than half an hour outside of Asheville, a small city with ample employment opportunities, and the program ratings reflect that: the job hire rate is over 90 percent, and the graduate satisfaction rate has been 100 percent over the past five years.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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3 Augusta Technical College
99.60 20% 3 14:1 N/A

This Georgia-based technical college offers a four-term diploma program for those interested in becoming Medical Assistants. Students will learn about medical billing and coding, medical ethics, and scheduling in both classroom and clinical settings. Students may complete the program on either the main campus in Augusta, the Thomson campus, or the Waynesboro campus so location is less restrictive for those who cannot have long commutes. Additionally, the entire program costs less than $9,000 for in-state students, and 87 percent of graduates find job placement within a year. That said, ATC’s program is daytime-only—there are no night classes for those who work daytime hours.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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4 Piedmont Community College
99.43 13% 2 10:1 N/A

Piedmont Community College’s Medical Assisting Associate’s degree trains students to be involved in many different aspects of the medical profession. The two-year, full-time program requires students to take 73 credits in the classroom, lab, and clinical settings. Students can expect to learn ethical and legal requirements for health professionals, administrative skills like medical transcription, insurance accounting and billing, and electronic health records, and the skills to assist in the examination room. Due to the wide-ranging focus of the program, Piedmont’s program is aimed at those who want a varied work day.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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5 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
99.30 11% 3 15:1 N/A

Located in a major metropolitan area, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College offers a certificate for Medical Assistance. While most certificates are strictly 1-year programs, CSTCC’s program is two-fold: 12 months of coursework and 160 hours of clinical experience. The schedule is staggered: the first term is 16 credits; the second is 13 credits; and the last term is 7 credits. The program is more clinically focused than comparable programs around the nation, and, as a result, those who graduate can sit the same certification exam as those who earn Associates degrees.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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6 North Georgia Technical College
98.96 1% 3 17:1 N/A

North Georgia Technical College offers two paths to those interested in Medical Assistance: a two-year Associates degree or a shorter diploma program. Both programs are rigorous enough for graduates to sit for the certification exam, but the Associates degree opens up opportunities to get into medical office management, as students can take more classes and develop more occupational skills. Tutoring services, online classes, and career planners are all available resources for students. Students can also take classes at either the Blairsville or Clarksville campus, both of which are very highly rated by graduates and employers—though Clarksville has slightly higher ratings.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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7 Edison State Community College
98.79 16% 3 15:1 N/A

Students who require flexible scheduling may look at Edison State Community College’s Medical Assisting programs. With both day and evening programs, and the opportunity to attend either full- or part-time on one of several campuses, students can earn either a year-long certificate or a two-year Associates degree. The year-long certificate has the same pre-requisites and basic requirements as the Associates degree, but the Associates degree requires much more technical coursework and an internship component, suited to students looking for a job training component.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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8 Eastern Arizona College
98.57 26% 2 20:1 N/A

While Eastern Arizona College’s certificate in Medical Assisting only requires 38 credits in the classroom, students learn many of the same skills as longer programs and are prepared for entry level positions as medical assistants. For students who can only attend school part-time but want to build job skills, the certificate takes only two years. Eastern Arizona’s tuition and fees for in-state students is less than $2,500 per term and puts equal emphasis on clerical and clinical experience. Students learn patient interaction, billing and scheduling, and complete a 160-hour externship working in a medical office. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the certification exam.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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9 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
98.16 9% 2 18:1 N/A

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College offers a full-time, five-semester Associates degree that gets students into lab and clinical settings by the second semester. ABTCC’s emphasis on labs and clinicals is complemented by a term-long externship component, and graduates have a 95 percent employment rate. There is also a four-semester diploma program which also includes an externship, though it is less rigorous than the Associates degree. To boot, ABTCC has a very low cost of attendance: $1,200 per term for full-time students, and just $22-$32 per credit for part-time students.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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10 Southern Regional Technical College
98.14 N/A 3 12:1 N/A

Located in Southern Georgia, Southern Regional Technical College offers a six-semester diploma program: two semesters of pre-requisites and four semesters of occupational courses, including clinical experience and an externship. Students can expect to learn software for medical professionals, medical insurance management, and other managerial skills. Though longer than most other diploma and certificate programs, SRTC has a high certification exam pass rate, a high graduation rate, and a high employment rate. For students who require flexible schedules, the Medical Assisting program is offered on three campuses; it can also be completed part-time.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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11 Central Georgia Technical College
98.05 N/A 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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12 Richmond Community College
98.04 6% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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13 Southwestern Oregon Community College
98.01 51% 3 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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14 Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell Campus
97.88 5% 3 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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15 Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
97.86 8% 3 25:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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16 Moultrie Technical College
97.80 N/A 3 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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17 Mount Wachusett Community College
97.78 20% 3 13:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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18 Athens Technical College
97.78 1% 2 13:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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19 Pamlico Community College
97.63 11% 3 9:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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20 Mountwest Community and Technical College
97.53 12% 2 18:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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21 Metropolitan Community College
97.46 20% 3 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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22 Northland Pioneer College
97.37 37% 2 10:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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23 South Georgia Technical College
97.30 3% 2 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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24 Mid-State Technical College
97.27 12% 2 12:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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25 Bunker Hill Community College
97.06 1% 2 17:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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26 Georgia Northwestern Technical College
97.04 N/A 3 19:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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27 Wilkes Community College
96.90 17% 3 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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28 Terra State Community College
96.87 7% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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29 Atlanta Technical College
96.62 33% 2 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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30 Stanly Community College
96.57 15% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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31 Fox Valley Technical College
96.56 12% 2 12:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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32 Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
96.49 N/A 2 13:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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33 Nash Community College
96.47 16% 3 25:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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34 Southwestern Community College
96.44 15% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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35 Central Community College
96.40 34% 3 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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36 Forsyth Technical Community College
96.29 N/A 2 13:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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37 Gateway Community and Technical College
96.27 9% 3 12:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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38 Carteret Community College
96.23 8% 3 8:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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39 Lanier Technical College
96.13 N/A 3 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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40 Savannah Technical College
96.08 N/A 2 17:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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41 Southeastern Technical College
95.99 N/A 2 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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42 Maysville Community and Technical College
95.91 9% 2 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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43 South Piedmont Community College
95.88 7% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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44 Henderson Community College
95.86 22% 2 10:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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45 Columbus Technical College
95.84 N/A 2 18:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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46 Bluegrass Community and Technical College
95.81 2% 3 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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47 Oconee Fall Line Technical College
95.60 N/A 2 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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48 Alamance Community College
95.60 16% 3 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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49 Santa Fe Community College
95.56 8% 2 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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50 Clark State Community College
95.55 4% 2 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 Youngstown State University
99.77 45% 3 15:1 32%

While Youngstown State University’s Medical Assisting Technology program is a two-year Associates degree, students can advance their education by continuing for two more years and earning a B.S. in Applied Science in Allied Health. A B.S.A.S. degree opens the field to management, public relations, medical education, and graduate school, which widens students’ career paths and earning potential. Youngstown offers rolling admission, part-time degree options, and online classes. And though the externship component of the degree is unpaid, Youngstown offers many scholarships and grants to in-state and out-of-state residents, women, and veterans.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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2 Goodwin College
99.33 91% 4 10:1 N/A

Goodwin College has both Medical Assistant certificate and Associates programs. Students enroll in both programs simultaneously, so they can complete the certificate requirement after a year and sit the certification exam while still studying for their Associates. That means students can become certified and work in the field while still in school. Associates students must also complete the same 24 general education credits that four-year students must complete, so graduates of the Associates program can go onto one of Goodwin’s many four-year medical degrees—such as Health Science or Nursing—while working in the field.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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3 Seattle Community College-North Campus
96.45 17% 3 16:1 N/A

Each year, more than 14,000 students are served by campus-based and online educational programs at Seattle Community College-North Campus. Along with two- and four-year undergraduate degrees, SCC-North provides a selection of 60 certificate programs for career and vocational students. Its popular 86-credit Medical Assisting Certificate program can be completed between six and eight quarters. Students may also opt for completing additional general education requirements if they wish to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Allied Health Services. The medical assisting certificate program combines classroom learning with a supervised externship to be served at more than 10 partner institutions including Seattle hospitals and clinics.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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4 Peninsula College
96.45 23% 2 15:1 N/A

Located at the foot of the mountains and wild rivers of Olympic National Park, Peninsula College has served its student population for more than 55 years. A new Science and Technology Building was added in 2007. Students attending Peninsula College’s Medical Assisting Program can select from a 94-credit Medical Assisting A.A.S. Degree or 74-credit Medical Assisting Certificate. The associate degree program can be completed in as little as six quarters. Studies include lectures and coursework in medical billing and coding, clinical laboratory seminars, HIV/AIDS training, and patient advocacy. Degree students must complete a capstone project to graduate.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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5 University of Alaska Fairbanks
96.38 43% 2 14:1 33%

Opened in 1974, the Community and Technical College at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks today offers more than 40 two-year degrees and year-long certificate programs at seven locations. Depending on their career plans, students can choose between a Certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting. The A.S.S. degree program combines allied health and general education coursework in a well-rounded degree that may serve as a bridge to transfer programs or stand alone as a credential for the profession. Hands-on, supervised clinical training is combined with studies in communications, medical business practices, medical law, ethics, and safety.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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6 Highline College
96.14 20% 2 15:1 N/A

Located between Seattle and Tacoma, Highline College has served Des Moines-area students for more than 50 years. Today students take online classes or attend studies at the 80-acre main campus or 25 other locations throughout the Puget Sound. Medical assisting students can earn a 90-credit Associate of Applied Sciences in Medical Assisting degree or complete a 30-credit Certificate of Completion. The six-quarter, 90-credit associate degree program includes 20 credits of courses in the academic core. In their final quarter, degree students undertake a supervised clinical externship of 180 hours in an approved outpatient facility.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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7 Lake Washington Institute of Technology
96.11 7% 2 15:1 N/A

The Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) is situated in the heart of the Pacific Northwest’s high tech corridor, serving several technology giants and their population of workers. Washington state’s only public technology institute, LWTech offers more than 40 associate degrees and more than 80 professional certificates. The Medical Assisting AAS degree program prepares students for roles in the large healthcare sector in the Puget Sound region and graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant examination. The 90-credit degree program is divided into six quarters of study, culminating in a Medical Assistant Externship in the final quarter.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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8 Davenport University
95.99 89% 2 14:1 40%

The history of Davenport University began in January 1866 when a handful of local Grand Rapids citizens gathered for business classes. Now in its Sesquicentennial year, the institution has grown to become one of Michigan’s largest non-profit, private universities. Davenport University’s College of Health Professions provides students with a 61-credit Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting degree that can be completed in four semesters. Core courses in the major include studies in anatomy/physiology, clinical patient care, pharmacology, health law and ethics, information technology, and laboratory procedures. A four-credit assisting practicum is required in the final semester.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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9 Lewis-Clark State College
95.64 62% 2 16:1 26%

Situated on the shared border with Washington State, Idaho’s Lewis-Clark State College is an accredited four-year college that combines undergraduate degree programs with broad offerings in career/technical education and community extension programs. LCSC’s current 3,600 students hail from 22 states and more than 30 countries. Medical assisting students can choose an associate in applied science degree or a bachelor of applied science degree in the field. The associate’s degree requires 68 credits for graduation, with 15 general education credits; the bachelor’s degree requires 120 credits with 37 general education hours. The curriculum includes studies in office procedures, medical coding, transcription and clinical processes.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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10 Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
95.55 72% 2 6:1 N/A

Cabarrus College, founded in 1942, provides academic programs leading to master, bachelor, and associate’s degrees in addition to career-oriented diplomas, certificates, and continuing education. Students pursuing medical assisting education can select College of Health Sciences programs leading to a Medical Assistant diploma or an Associate’s of Science degree. Diploma students are prepared to take the American Association of Medical Assistants Certification Examination. Students going on to complete an associate’s degree enroll in studies in behavioral and biological sciences and undertake a medical assistant internship. It takes 11-13 months to complete the diploma, and 2 to 3 semesters afterwards to complete the associate’s degree.

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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11 Jackson College
95.47 21% 2 18:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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12 University of Alaska Anchorage
93.80 44% 2 19:1 26%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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13 Daytona State College
93.12 24% 1 18:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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14 Idaho State University
93.11 37% 1 16:1 31%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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15 Arkansas Tech University
93.03 56% 1 20:1 41%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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16 Pensacola State College
93.01 23% 1 21:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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17 Eastern Florida State College
92.90 9% 1 24:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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18 Palm Beach State College
92.85 9% 1 30:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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19 Florida State College at Jacksonville
92.80 15% 1 22:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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20 Centralia College
92.74 28% 1 17:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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21 Miami Dade College
92.54 24% 1 23:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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22 Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale
92.51 77% 1 12:1 60%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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23 Trocaire College
92.35 64% 1 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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24 University of Cincinnati-Clermont College
92.23 18% 1 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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25 Broward College
92.11 23% 1 27:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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26 Concordia University-Wisconsin
92.10 98% 1 13:1 59%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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27 Baker College of Port Huron
92.09 74% 1 19:1 32%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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28 University of Akron Main Campus
92.09 47% 1 19:1 40%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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29 University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College
92.04 32% 1 18:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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30 Baker College of Flint
92.00 84% 1 24:1 10%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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31 University of North Georgia
91.83 6% 1 21:1 53%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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32 Baker College of Auburn Hills
91.78 72% 1 22:1 8%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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33 City College-Fort Lauderdale
91.70 9% 1 10:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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34 CollegeAmerica-Cheyenne
91.62 72% 1 11:1 35%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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35 Baker College of Clinton Township
91.55 85% 1 25:1 14%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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36 Baker College of Muskegon
91.55 80% 1 33:1 18%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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37 Clarion University of Pennsylvania
91.51 11% 1 19:1 48%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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38 CollegeAmerica-Colorado Springs
90.99 78% 1 14:1 68%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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39 Remington College-Shreveport Campus
90.58 90% 2 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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40 Wright Career College
90.56 1% 2 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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41 California College San Diego
90.27 71% 1 13:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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42 Stevens-Henager College
90.22 49% 1 16:1 23%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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43 CollegeAmerica-Denver
90.21 67% 1 17:1 38%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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44 Remington College-Tampa Campus
90.10 72% 2 11:1 1%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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45 Columbia Basin College
90.07 10% 2 20:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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46 CollegeAmerica-Fort Collins
89.95 70% 1 18:1 33%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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47 CollegeAmerica-Phoenix
89.57 72% 1 25:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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48 South Texas College
89.52 1% 2 27:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
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49 CollegeAmerica-Flagstaff
89.51 67% 1 22:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
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The healthcare industry in the United States is growing rapidly with no signs of slowing down. In fact, most healthcare professions can expect impressive growth over the next decade. As healthcare continues to boom, medical assistants will be in high demand to support the growing field. This guide will discuss what a medical assistant is, how to become one and what to expect when working as a medical assistant.

Medical Assistant Schools Must-Have Checklist

There are hundreds of programs available to prospective students wishing to become medical assistants. Most programs can be broken down into either associate degree programs or diploma/certificate programs. Besides those differences, the following is a list of important factors to consider when choosing the right medical assisting program.

Accreditation

As discussed previously, there is no minimum certification, licensure or educational requirement to become a medical assistant. As a result, graduating from a non-accredited school would not officially bar a student from becoming a medical assistant, but it could be a disadvantage, given the competitive nature of the medical assistant workforce. Additionally, graduating from a non-accredited program will preclude the student from sitting for certain exams. For example, in order to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant Certification Exam, applicants must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Accreditation helps ensure a given program meets specific academic standards so students will receive a sufficient level of training and education.

Medical assisting certification examination passage rates

Given the importance of becoming a certified medical assistant, one significant factor to consider when deciding among medical assisting schools and programs is how successful their graduates are at passing a given exam and becoming certified. Becoming a certified medical assistant could help a new graduate stand out from the crowd when entering the workforce. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies currently accredits five certifications for medical assistants:

  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from the National Healthcareer Association
  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants
  • National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists

Opportunities for work experience

Obtaining hands-on experience before entering the medical assisting workforce may be another meaningful way for students to stand out after graduating from medical assisting school. Work experience may not only help make the student more marketable, but it can also provide the chance for students to apply their classroom knowledge to the real world.

Program format

Does the school offer alternative learning formats or times to take classes, such as online, night or weekends? Is there flexibility in the pace at which a student can complete their medical assisting program? When choosing the right program, flexibility in taking classes is very important, especially if the student is already a working professional or has family obligations and other commitments. While this might extend the time it takes to graduate, being able to take classes on their own schedule or at their own pace can make it possible for certain students to enter the medical assisting program.

Career services

A school’s ability to assist its graduates in finding gainful employment is one of the more practical considerations for prospective students to review when choosing a medical assisting school. After all, the point of entering into a medical assisting program is to become a medical assistant. Look for schools that have a career services department, provide opportunities to attend job fairs and other networking and job seeking events, a wide breadth of alumni network, and an affiliation or relationship with potential medical assisting employers, such as hospitals.

Gainful employment for graduates

When comparing medical assisting programs, look at the employment numbers of graduates who are practicing as medical assistants or in a related profession. These are usually given as “employed at graduation” or a certain time after graduation, such as six months. Obviously schools with higher numbers are better, but sometimes they can require a closer look. For example, one school may have a higher employment numbers, but only students with jobs responded to an optional post-graduate survey, or the graduates are working in a field completely unrelated to medical assisting. This extra digging may require research or a call to the school, but it can properly explain a given employment statistic and provide a clearer picture of a prospective student’s employment outlook upon graduating from a particular program.

Percentage of graduates that default on loans

Fortunately, most medical assisting programs are reputable and allow their graduates to be in a better position after graduation than before, improving their professional and financial outlook. However, not all schools give the same chances for professional success. The percentage of a school’s graduates who default on their loans can provide one element to deciding how successful graduates are. The lower the default rate, the more likely the student has found desired employment and the lower the tuition and other costs of attendance is likely to be.

Medical Assistant Degrees and Certificates

While not required, most medical assistants have at least a certification or associate degree in medical assisting. Some may have obtained a high school diploma and took part in on-the-job training to get the medical assisting position, but these are the exception. In today’s competitive medical assisting workforce, it is not recommended aspiring medical assists take this route.

As touched on earlier, one option for prospective students is to obtain a certificate or diploma in medical assisting. This path usually takes about one year to complete and approximately 35 to 40 credits, depending on the program and curriculum path.

The second option is to obtain an associate degree. An associate degree usually takes about two years to complete, can be either an associate degree or an associate of applied science degree, and consists of about 90 credits work of coursework.

Medical Assistant Associate Degrees

Depending on the medical assisting school, students will graduate with either an associate degree or an associate of applied science degree. The associate degree is more academic in nature and is geared toward students who eventually want to get another degree, such as a bachelor’s. The Associate of Applied Science degree is more practical and vocational in nature, theoretically preparing students to immediately enter the workforce upon graduation. In reality, the distinction between the two degrees is slight, at least when it comes to becoming a medical assistant after graduating.

In order to enter an associate degree program, students must have a high school diploma (or equivalent, such as a GED) and take college placement tests to determine if they meet a certain level of proficiency in academic subjects such as English and math. Once accepted, students will take general education courses in addition to courses related to medical assisting. A typical sampling of medical assisting courses is listed in the chart below:

Medical Law and Bioethics

Coursework focuses on legal and ethical principles and dilemmas likely to be encountered in the medical context. Issues such as consent, doctor-patient relationship and professional liability will be discussed and researched.

Medical Terminology

The etymology of words used in the medical profession is studied in this class. The origins of word roots, prefixes and suffixes are examined as they apply to medical terminology.

Pharmacology

Students study the basic principles of medications and how they work in the human body. Principles of dosing, administration and drug documentation will be reviewed in this course.

Medical Office Management

This class will go over various office procedures used to accomplished administrative tasks in a medical office. Students will learn how to manage patient information, how the expectations of a healthcare administrative employee differ from that of other settings and other methods by which a medical office can be operated.

Medical Assistant Certificates

Most medical assistants today have received a certificate or diploma from a medical assisting program. Admission requirements are similar to those entering an associate degree medical assisting program. Certificate/diploma programs are popular because they can usually be completed within one year or less. The coursework will be similar to that of the associate program, except there will be fewer, if any, general education classes. Prototypical classes can be found in the below chart:

Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology

This class covers how the human body works and is structured. Topics will correspond to each human body system, such as the nervous, skeletal and muscle systems.

Health Insurance and Professional Billing

Students are introduced to the healthcare insurance industry and learn how to prepare, submit and process insurance claims. The basics of health insurance regulations and procedural coding will be examined.

Laboratory Procedures for Medical Assistants

The laboratory procedures and processes often performed in a medical office are covered in this course. General laboratory techniques, such as specimen collection and diagnostic testing are introduced to students.

Professional Issues in Medical Assisting

Life-long learning and professional development skills are presented to students so that they may achieve their personal and professional goals while practicing as a medical assistant. Students will be trained with career advancement skills such as job interview preparation and resume writing.

Medical Assistant Toolbox/Checklist

Whether it’s completing the medical assisting program, finding a medical assisting job or engaging in a successful medical assisting career, there are specific skills and traits that are important to achieve these goals. Below is a list of skills and traits that are important for hopeful and practicing medical assistants:

  • Technical skills:

    Medical assistants must be proficient in the utilization of medical equipment and instruments. Medical assistants must be able to consistently and accurately take a patient’s vital signs as other medical professionals will rely on those measurements in order to plan a patient’s course of treatment.

  • Analytical skills:

    Medical assistants will utilize their past training and experiences to interpret medical charts and understand medical concepts as they are applied to the real world and actual patients.

  • Computer skills:

    Today, most individuals possess a basic understanding of using a computer, but additional computer software skills and experience in medical software, spreadsheet and database programs is essential for working as a medical assistant, especially one that provides administrative support to a medical office.

  • Prior work experience:

    The higher paying medical assisting jobs are highly competitive, so prior work experience is valued in that it will help recently hired medical assistants hit the ground running. It will also improve their educational quality as it helps put what is learned in the classroom into the proper real world context.

  • Interpersonal skills:

    Medical assistants work with both patients and medical staff. Medical assistants must be able to effectively communicate with both the lay patient who may not understand a single medical concept, to a veteran medical doctor who speaks primarily in industry shorthand, lingo and acronyms.

  • Attention to detail:

    Medical assistants will be taking and recording patient information, especially measurements of vitals. Medical assistants need to avoid any mistakes, as the patient’s care depends on accurate conveyance of medical data. Additionally, doctor’s offices and insurance companies rely on accurate medical records for processing claims.

  • Certification:

    Certification is not required to practice as a medical assistant, but is highly recommended for recent medical assisting graduates. Most medical assisting programs specifically train students to take one of the medical assisting certification exams after completing the program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for medical assistants will increase by 29% between 2012 and 2022. The national average for job growth in all occupations is only 11%, while the job growth for all other healthcare support occupations is 23%.

The medical assistant job generally provides a measure of flexibility, both in scheduling and career choices. Many medical assistants gain experience and financial support in order to pursue more advanced jobs in the medical profession, such as becoming a registered nurse.

Medical Assistant Specializations

There are two primary areas of specialization for medical assistants. First, the medical assistant can primarily work directly with patients doing clinical work. Second, the medical assistant can mostly work with administrative tasks, such as answering the phone and processing medical documents and information. Some schools offer a separate program for medical assistants who focus on administrative work. Sometimes these medical assistants are referred to as medical office assistants.

With respect to medical assistants who focus on clinical work, there can be further subdivision as to areas of specialization. Specializations can include:

Ophthalmic/optometric medical assistant

These medical assistants help optometrists and ophthalmologists provide medical care relating to the eyes.

Podiatric medical assistant

A podiatric medical assistant helps a podiatrist provide medical care relating to the patients’ feet.

Oncologic medical assistant

This type of medical assistant works primarily with cancer patients, especially with in an administrative capacity, in order to handle the medical billing and insurance paperwork.

Interview with a Medical Assistant

A great way to learn more about the medical assisting profession is to speak with someone who has practiced as a medical assistant. Below is an interview with Vanessa Moscova, who currently works in the field.

Vanessa Moscova
What led to your decision to pursue a career in medical assisting?

I come from a background of nurses and doctors. I wanted the opportunity to get my foot in the door, in order for me to have a better vision of which path I should take, medically. Currently, I have many different interests in the field, such as phlebotomy and medical science. I also have strong intentions of furthering my career in natural medicine.

What is your educational background, and how does it apply to your current job?

I studied health and medicine at the Sanford Brown Institute, located in Iselin, NJ. It was an intensive, ABHES accredited 900-hour course, compromised of a theoretical and practical application of essential medical assistant skills including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. I also studied various clinical skills, lab procedures, along with administrative duties and health insurance processing. This knowledge helped me develop and transfer my skills accordingly and efficiently for each patient and medical practice.

What does your day-to-day work entail?

Each day I am freshly motivated to follow through each task, while possessing a positive attitude and great communication skills with patients and staff team. During my work hours, I like to keep busy. In this specific field, there are always things to do. Such as bringing in patients to go over their medical history. During that time I’d be checking their vitals, as well as obtaining their chief complaint. Then, the doctor is ready to see the patient, and will instruct me to assist him with any tasks or clinical procedures, which can vary from suture removal to ear irrigation, depending on what the patient is there for. I may have to draw blood from a patient, if necessary. When I am not with the doctor or patient, I will be in the lab checking that all lab forms are filled out properly and also that they match each specimen. You will also see me answering phone calls and calling in and faxing patients’ medications to various nearby pharmacies. Making sure that each room is clean and organized is a very important task throughout the day, as well as checking and updating the practices inventory for medical supplies.

Anything else you might want to say about medical assisting?

My advice to all future medical assistants is to maintain a positive attitude and stay focused. As you know, it is a field of intense competition, so it is important to stand out from the rest of the potential candidates. Show that you are ready to enhance yourself and the company, by showing interest in learning, and prove that you are obtaining the information efficiently for the job.

After Medical Assistant School: What’s Next

Medical assistants work in a variety of settings, including healthcare clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient facilities. Depending on where they are employed, medical assistants can work in a more clinical capacity, administrative capacity or both.

In a clinical capacity, the medical assistant’s day-to-day tasks will align with the work done by someone like Ms. Moscova, working directly with patients with more “hands on” job duties. This is sometimes called working in the “back office.” If a medical assistant works in an administrative capacity, they will focus on working the front desk, including patient intake, pulling medical documents, filling out forms and answering the phone. This is sometimes referred to as “front office” work. Depending on the office, medical assistants will usually work in a “front office” or “back office” capacity. Sometimes they can work in both areas, either as a part of their formal job duties or when covering for another medical assistant who may be out of the office.

Featured Careers Tool

  • Medical Assistants

    Medical assistants provide clinical and administrative support to doctors, chiropractors, podiatrists, and other health care providers. Administrative tasks usually include record keeping, preparing and maintaining treatment rooms, gathering necessary background information from patients, and ensuring a patient’s overall comfort during treatments and visits. Clinical tasks performed by medical assistants may include collecting blood or tissue samples, cleaning and sterilizing instruments, and performing routine laboratory tests. They work closely with patients to explain treatments, medications, and doctors’ instructions.

    Median Salary: $29,370

    Median Hourly: $14.12

    Est. Growth: 29%

    No. Employed: 553,140

    Minimum Education: Postsecondary non-degree award

  • Medical Equipment Preparers

    Medical equipment preparers perform necessary setup, maintenance, and cleanup on medical equipment. This can include sterilizing equipment with steam autoclaves, keeping records of sterilization procedures, examining equipment for leaks, defects, or worn parts, and reporting any defects to supervisors. These medical professionals also stock crash carts with supplies and assemble surgical instrument trays for routine setups or special orders.

    Median Salary: $30,820

    Median Hourly: $14.82

    Est. Growth: 20.3%

    No. Employed: 50,230

    Minimum Education: High School Diploma

  • Medical Secretaries

    Medical secretaries perform various clerical and administrative duties to ensure that a medical facility or office runs smoothly and efficiently. Responsibilities may include answering telephones, scheduling appointments, and maintaining medical records. These professionals use their knowledge of medical terminology and hospital, clinic, or laboratory procedures as well as computer programs to prepare reports, invoices, medical records, and other necessary documents for physicians.

    Median Salary: $31,350

    Median Hourly: $15.07

    Est. Growth: 36%

    No. Employed: 509,640

    Minimum Education: High School Diploma

  • Medical Transcriptionists

    Medical transcriptionists transcribe recordings created by physicians and health care workers into written documents. They use knowledge of medical terminology, abbreviations, and shorthand to develop clear and readable text detailing office or emergency room visits, chart reviews, operations, and more. They may also take dictation during these procedures, using shorthand or a stenotype machine, and then transcribe notes to full text afterward.

    Median Salary: $34,020

    Median Hourly: $16.36

    Est. Growth: 7.6%

    No. Employed: 74,810

    Minimum Education: Postsecondary non-degree award

Advice from a Medical Assistant

Vanessa Moscova offers the following piece of advice for
those about to enter the medical profession as a medical assistant: “If you do not know, ask. ALWAYS ASK, FIRST. I would also say, through experience, that it is always best to have a pocket-sized notepad to keep track of any relevant information or notes for yourself about the job. Lastly, I would suggest that you dive into it. Be confident and know that you can be great at what you were trained to do.”