As one of the fastest growing fields in the medical industry today, medical assisting degrees are becoming ever more popular. Many colleges, universities and technical schools offer these degrees, diplomas and certifications directly online, providing the busier student a more convenient alternative to the traditional in-class schedule.
What does a Medical Assisting student learn?
Although varied by institution, level of degree and state requirements, while enrolled in an online medical assisting program, classes can include:
- Legalities of the medical office - An overview of the concept of medical assisting and how it relates to other medical fields, with an emphasis on ethics; the role of a medical assistant as acting representative of the medical doctor as well as HIPPA compliance and introduction to medical law.
- Medical office procedures - Teaches required medical practice skills including medical records and filing; time management and inter-office protocol; appointment scheduling, office equipment operations and how to successfully communicate with medical patients.
- Pharmacology - Emphasis on the safety of drug therapies; drug interactions, safety and side effects; introduction to basic math used in administering medications; forms of drugs and their effects on the human body as they are being used; calculations used to define dosage.
- Medical Assisting I - Introduction to the details involved in assisting the physician with direct patient care and practices. Knowledge of sterilization practices and procedures; practices of medical machinery such as electrocardiograms; communicable disease response and control; OSHA compliance; preparation procedures for gender specific exams and diagnostic requirements pertaining to gender specific medical needs; procedures employed in a medical office setting.
- Medical Assisting II - Introduction to the detailed activities and required skills involved in the medical office practice and procedures which include specimen collection; CLIA compliance and risk assessment; hematology, urine analysis and venipuncture methods and safety; emergency procedures and preparedness in a medical setting; practice and principals of IV administration.
- Managing medical insurance - Including practices of medical reimbursement and filing for managed care claims as well as coding procedures used in medical insurance filing.
- Medical office management - Teaching medical transcription and computer skills related to the inter-office operations of a medical practice; electronic health records and medical terminology, accounting and software applications.
- Coding I - Introduction to basic medical coding applications including the skills and standards of international coding as used in health care services and billing; international classification of disease; code book formats and techniques.
- Coding II - A more detailed continuation of basic coding I, with an emphasis on coding compliance and coding linkage, common reimbursement issues and the ethics involved in recognizing reporting coding and medical billing abuses and fraud.
- Physicians procedural coding - Continuing education and skills involved with coding procedures specific to billing details using the Physicians Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) instruction manual. Topics will address CPT format, coding using the CPT manual and the CPT manual coding guidelines.
Most medical assisting courses will require an externship either just before the completion of all required courses or just after. An externship will require that the student attend and assist in a hands-on clinic environment. Many schools have clinics and medical facilities which they work with directly and use to train their completing students in the real life details involved in working as a medical assistant. Upon completion of their externship, the attending physician or medical office manager will fill out the required forms stating their assessment of the skills of the student.
The career of a medical assistant relies heavily on math and science. Students considering online courses in medical assisting should concentrate heavily on a math and science centered curriculum with special attention to studies in biology. Courses in office skills such as keyboarding and computer skills as well as a second language would be advised.
There are various educational levels in a medical assisting career. While there are no educational requirements for the career and while medical assistants can be trained in-office by degreed or certified medical professionals, individuals with a certification or degree in medical assisting are considered readily employable as there is no need for further training. It is suggested that a certification or degree in medical assisting should be gained prior to seeking employment in this field.
Online Medical Assistance Schools
Some schools which offer medical assistant degrees and certifications include:
|AS in Medical Admin. Assistant||AS in Clinical Medical Assisting|
525 N. 6th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Diploma/Associates in Medical Assisting
5225 Memorial Hwy.
Tampa, Fla. 33634
Associates degree in Medical Assisting
550 West Van Buren Street 7’Th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Associates in Medical Assisting
Career Outlook & Salary
The career outlook for positions in medical assisting is currently above average. With a growth rate expected to surpass most other occupations in this field type, the projected rise in hiring and career sustainability for the 2008-2018 employment projections is deemed as ”excellent” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is especially true for those who achieve a certain educational level and formal training within the medical assisting career field.
Wages for medical assisting careers will vary by location, type of duty employed, experience at time of employment and degree of educational level. Those with a higher level of education and those with extensive experience will prove to gain higher incomes no matter the location and specific position. Because of this, although not required, it is suggested that those who desire a career in the field of medical assisting obtain as high a degree or professional designation as possible to gain a satisfactory and permanent career outlook.
Current wages for those in the medical assisting field as indicated by Bureau of labor Statistics:
Salaried and hourly median wage
$28,300.00 as recorded in May of 2008
50% earned between $23,700.00 and $33,050.00
Bottom 10% earned the lowest with wages under $20,600.00
The top 10% earned the highest wages at over $39,570.00
Median annual wages paid by industries providing the most medical assisting positions of 2008:
General medical and surgical hospitals $29,720.00
Colleges, universities and professional schools $28,820.00
Offices of physicians $28,710.00
Outpatient care centers $28,570.00
Offices of other health practitioners $25,240.00
Possible employment opportunities for a career in medical assisting include:
- Ophthalmology offices
- Public clinics
- Private physician’s offices
- General medical facilities such as hospitals and urgent care centers
- Podiatry clinics
- Medical administration offices
Those who wish a more specialized certification or those who have a desire to ensure future advancement within their medical assisting career are encouraged to seek a higher level of education and training within the field. While the initial online classes offered begin with a basic understanding of the field and will pose a good beginning for entry level employment, moving beyond the basics should be considered for future employment sustainability and possible career change or advancement.
A professional certification, degree or diploma in medical assisting can lead to national recognition as a certified:
- Phlebotomy technician
- EKG (Electrocardiogram)
Advanced Career Options
Other careers related to medical assisting which require more specialized or advanced training include:
- Medical office management
- Medical transcriptionist
- Medical secretary
- Medical records and health information technician
Their earnings will reflect the advanced nature of the required courses and duties involved in their respective fields.
According to the information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assisting is a fast growing, employment stable and easily sustainable career choice. Students considering online courses in medical assisting would be making a wise decision in their career paths by choosing as advanced a degree or certification level as possible. Many schools offer online study in the field of medical assisting which many students today find more convenient than the more traditional class setting.