Medical Assistant Training Schools
Medical assistant schools can train you for a career in health care where you get to play an integral role as part of a medical team.
This type of dynamic career lets you perform an extensive range of tasks while working closely with patients and health care professionals. If this is the kind of work that appeals to you, getting an education in medical assisting is a substantial move toward a future you can feel great about!
If you're ready to get your training underway now, all you need to do is select a school that looks good to you and request program information. Or, if you have a few questions about the profession you'd like answered first, explore the detailed article below, which answers some of the most common FAQs about medical assisting.
Medical Assistant Schools
- Fort Wayne
- Quad Cities
- Bowling Green
- Ann Arbor
- Battle Creek
- Benton Harbor
- Grand Rapids
- New Baltimore
- Port Huron
- Johnson City
- West Hartford, Connecticut
- Cherry Hill, New Jersey
- Clifton, New Jersey
- Somerset, New Jersey
- Toms River, New Jersey
- Brownsville, Texas
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- McAllen, Texas
- Weslaco, Texas
- Monroe, Louisiana
- Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
- East Peoria, Illinois
- Moline, Illinois
- Springfield, Illinois
- Springfield, Missouri
- Sarasota, Florida
- Lilburn, Georgia
- Marietta, Georgia
- Sandy Springs, Georgia
- Raleigh, North Carolina
Medical Assisting Career Overview
Learn what medical assistants are, what they do, their educational requirements, how much they get paid, where they work, and a lot more!
What Is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are health care workers who work alongside physicians and other medical professionals to help provide quality care to patients. They are also multi-tasking experts who assist health care professionals and patients by performing administrative, clinical, laboratory, and direct patient care tasks.
Typical Medical Assistant Job Description
Here is a detailed list of the types of responsibilities typically held in this role:
- Greeting patients
- Scheduling appointments
- Answering phone calls and fielding questions and requests
- Working with industry-related computer software applications
- Recording patient histories
- Creating, updating, and maintaining patient medical records
- Managing the logistics of hospital admissions, laboratory services, and more
- Performing medical billing and basic bookkeeping
- Processing insurance claims
- Managing inventory
- Purchasing supplies and equipment
- Authorizing drug refills and placing telephone prescriptions to pharmacies (under the direction of physicians)
- Clearly explaining treatments and procedures to patients
- Educating patients on things like medications and special diet requirements
- Preparing patients for examinations, procedures, and x-rays
- Assisting physicians with examinations and procedures
- Preparing and administering medications (as directed by physicians)
- Drawing blood samples and administering injections
- Cleaning wounds
- Changing dressings
- Removing sutures
- Performing electrocardiograms (ECGs)
- Preparing, cleaning, and sterilizing examination rooms, equipment, and supplies
- Collecting and handling specimens from patients
- Processing specimens for laboratory testing
- Performing basic laboratory tests on specimens while carefully following standard protocols
- Communicating test findings to physicians or other medical professionals
- Safely disposing of contaminated supplies
It is important to note that some states regulate the clinical tasks that medical assistants are authorized to perform. Not all tasks are permitted in all states.
In addition, there are medical assisting specializations, including:
- Administrative medical assistant: Focuses on handling administrative duties and doesn't usually take on clinical or laboratory tasks. These professionals often perform more advanced billing, bookkeeping, and insurance tasks.
- Clinical medical assistant: Concentrates on clinical tasks as opposed to administrative or laboratory tasks. The job description depends on the authorizations regulated by the specific state of residence.
- Ophthalmic and optometric medical assistant: Focuses on work within optometrist offices or ophthalmic departments of hospitals and surgical centers. These assistants are often responsible for assisting with eye care, teaching patients how to insert and remove contact lenses, testing, measuring, and recording eye function and sight, and much more. They may also assist during eye-related surgeries.
- Podiatric medical assistant: Specializes in assisting podiatrists (i.e., foot doctors) in diagnosing and treating foot-related injuries or issues. Some typical duties can include taking, exposing, and developing x-rays, creating castings for feet, and assisting during foot-related surgeries.
Medical Assistant Training Overview
Although there aren't legal education requirements in every state, many employers in the field will only consider applicants who have had formal medical assistant training. Therefore, whether or not your state requires it, formal training can help you obtain the knowledge and experience valued in the field. Some states require that you graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam before allowing you to perform certain tasks (such as administering injections and taking x-rays).
It can be helpful to take biology, anatomy, and chemistry courses in high school. They will apply to your career as a medical assistant and may also be prerequisites for your medical assisting training.
What You Can Expect to Learn in a Medical Assistant Program
A medical assistant training program will generally cover three areas of study: administration, clinical skills, and laboratory work.
The administration portion of the curriculum usually includes:
- Medical billing, coding, and insurance processing
- Bookkeeping and basic accounting
- Secretarial duties (greeting patients, scheduling appointments, etc.)
- Computer software applications commonly used in a health care setting
- Patient records management
- Inventory management and purchasing
Clinical training can cover:
- Communicating with patients and educating them on post-treatment requirements as directed by physicians
- Preparing patients for examinations and assisting physicians during procedures
- Preparing and administering medications as per physicians' instructions
- Cleaning wounds and changing dressings
- Removing sutures
- Administering injections
- Taking x-rays and performing electrocardiograms (ECGs)
Laboratory training may include:
- Drawing blood samples
- Handling and processing specimens
- Performing basic laboratory tests
- Standard laboratory protocols
- Understanding laboratory results and accurately communicating them to physicians
Most medical assisting programs also provide theoretical training related to anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, medical laws and ethics, and much more. Additionally, many medical assisting schools include an internship, externship, or clinical. These opportunities can allow you to gain experience within an off-site health care facility, working under the direction of physicians and other health care professionals. Plus, some programs will provide preparation training for industry certification examinations.
If you choose to take a more specialized route, the curricula will vary depending on the specialty. For example, a program meant to help you become an administrative/front office medical assistant will focus most training on administrative skills. A clinical/back office medical assistant program will have the bulk of the training focus on the more practical aspects related to direct patient care.
How Much is Medical Assistant School?
Generally, tuition can range from a few thousand dollars to about $25,000, depending on the school you choose, as well as the program length and education level you hope to obtain.
You should also look into what exactly is covered in a program's tuition. Some may include books and other fees within the overall cost of tuition, while others may charge separately.
Most schools have a financial aid department that can help you research financial aid options and eligibility factors and fill out applications and other paperwork. Common sources of funding include federal grants and loans, scholarships, and work-study programs.
How Long is Medical Assistant Training?
Program duration depends entirely upon the type of school and program you choose. For instance, you could complete a short-term certificate from an online school in just a few months or up to two years for an associate degree from a university.
However, career-oriented certificate and diploma programs from vocational schools, usually completed within a year, tend to represent the middle ground in terms of length. Vocational career training is a good choice for those who want to enter the field quickly while still receiving theoretical knowledge, practical training, and real-life experience.
Although medical assistant certification requirements vary depending on state laws and specific job responsibilities, most medical assistant positions do not require certification by law. However, obtaining certification can be a tremendous asset when you are searching for employment because it shows employers that you have met the industry's minimum requirements. Pursuing this qualification also shows employers that you are committed to joining this area of health care since successfully gaining certification requires time, effort, and a monetary fee.
You can choose to prepare for the medical assistant certification examination in one of two ways: with study material you've purchased from the certifying organization or through an accredited program.
The following four organizations are accredited to provide certification to medical assistants:
- The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.
- American Medical Technologists (AMT) offers a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential.
- The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) offers a National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) credential.
- The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential.
Each organization has its own unique set of protocols and prerequisites. One may only require that you graduate from an accredited program, whereas another might administer an examination before awarding certification.
How Much Do Medical Assistants Make?
In May 2020, these are the medical assistant salaries reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Median annual pay was $35,850 ($17.23 per hour)
- Highest-earning 10 percent made $50,580 or more ($24.32 per hour)
- Lowest-earning 10 percent made $26,930 ($12.95 per hour)
However, numerous factors can affect salary rates, including experience and work environment. Location can also have a significant impact. For example, the states with the highest salary for medical assistants were Alaska, the District of Columbia, Washington, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
Some of the most common areas of employment for medical assistants include:
- Physicians' offices
- Other health care practitioner offices
- Outpatient care centers
- Hospitals and surgical centers
- Colleges, professional schools, and universities
Other health care facilities that tend to employ lower numbers of medical assistants (but provide higher pay) include:
- Scientific research and development centers
- Insurance agencies
- Dental offices
- Specialty hospitals (with the exception of psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals)
Medical Assisting Job Outlook
National projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the employment of medical assistants is expected to increase by 23 percent over the 10-year period between 2018 and 2028. That makes medical assisting one of the fastest-growing vocations, since the average growth rate for all occupations is just five percent.
Some of the factors that are influencing the growth of the occupation include:
- The aging baby-boomer population and its increased need for preventive health care
- The number of health care facilities opening to fill the increasing demand
- Additional tasks required due to the continued trend of health care facilities switching from paper files to electronic health records
Benefits of Working in Medical Assisting
Some of the most common advantages include:
- The opportunity to meet and interact with a variety of people daily.
- Knowing that your work is having a direct impact on the health and well-being of others.
- Having the opportunity to join one of the fastest-growing occupations, which also means having a good chance of obtaining a position quickly.
- Peace of mind—due to the demand for medical assistants, job security tends to be quite good, regardless of the general economic situation.
- Working directly with patients without putting in the necessary time, money, and effort required to become a physician.
- Enjoying a wide variety of job responsibilities, making it unlikely you will become bored with your work.