Medical Assisting Associate Degree: What You Need to Know

Medical assisting is a fast-growing field that offers many career opportunities in the healthcare industry. This profession involves working alongside physicians and other medical professionals to provide support in a clinical setting. A medical assistant’s duties can vary but generally include administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, managing patient files, and communicating with insurance providers. Additionally, they may perform clinical duties like drawing blood samples, taking vital signs, and preparing patients for procedures.

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Medical Assisting Associate Degree: What You Need to Know

To become a medical assistant, you typically need to earn an associate degree in medical assisting or a related field. Let’s take a closer look at what this type of degree entails and how it can help you carve out a rewarding career path.

What Is an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting?

An associate degree in medical assisting is a two-year program that provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work as medical assistants in various healthcare settings. This type of program typically combines classroom instruction with hands-on training that takes place in simulated labs or actual clinical settings.

The courses you’ll take in an associate degree program will cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, clinical procedures, and medical office management. You’ll also develop critical skills like communication, time management, and attention to detail that are essential for success in this field.

Why Pursue an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting?

There are several compelling reasons to consider earning an associate degree in medical assisting:

1. Career Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due in part to an aging baby boomer population that requires more healthcare services.

With an associate degree in medical assisting, you’ll be well-positioned to take advantage of these job opportunities and pursue a rewarding career in the healthcare industry.

2. Financial Benefits

The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for medical assistants was $35,850 as of May 2020. This is a solid salary for a profession that requires just two years of education after high school.

Additionally, many employers offer benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off to their medical assistant staff. These financial perks add up and can make a big difference in your overall quality of life.

3. Career Flexibility

Medical assisting is a versatile profession that offers many opportunities for career growth and advancement. With an associate degree in medical assisting, you can specialize in areas like podiatry, ophthalmology, or cardiology, among others.

Additionally, medical assisting can be an excellent stepping stone to other careers in the healthcare industry if you decide to go back to school later on. For example, you could pursue further education and training to become a registered nurse or physician assistant.

What Are the Requirements for Earning an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting?

To earn an associate degree in medical assisting, you’ll typically need to meet certain requirements:

1. High School Diploma or GED

You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for admission into most associate degree programs.

2. Prerequisites

Some programs may require specific prerequisites like courses in anatomy and physiology or medical terminology before admitting students into the program.

3. Program Requirements

To graduate with an associate degree in medical assisting, you’ll generally need to complete between 60 and 90 credit hours of coursework. This includes general education courses such as English composition and math as well as specialized courses like pharmacology and clinical procedures.

In addition to coursework, most programs require students to complete supervised clinical rotations where they’ll gain hands-on experience working with patients in a healthcare setting.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting?

With an associate degree in medical assisting, you’ll be qualified to work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

1. Physician Offices

Many medical assistants work in physician offices where they provide administrative and clinical support to physicians and nurses.

2. Hospitals

Hospitals also employ medical assistants to perform basic clinical tasks like taking vital signs and preparing patients for procedures.

3. Outpatient Clinics

Outpatient clinics that specialize in areas like cardiology, dermatology, or orthopedics often hire medical assistants who have completed specialized training in those fields.

How Can You Advance Your Career With an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting?

If you’re interested in advancing your career beyond the role of a medical assistant, there are several paths you can take:

1. Specialize

As mentioned earlier, with an associate degree in medical assisting, you can specialize in areas like podiatry or ophthalmology by pursuing additional education and training.

2. Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree

You could also consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or management if you’re interested in moving into a leadership role within a healthcare organization.

3. Become Certified

Finally, becoming certified as a medical assistant through organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) can enhance your professional credibility and potentially lead to better job opportunities and higher pay.

Conclusion

An associate degree in medical assisting is an excellent option for anyone who wants to pursue a career in the fast-growing field of healthcare. This type of degree program provides the necessary knowledge and skills to work as a medical assistant while offering opportunities for career growth and advancement.

Whether you choose to work in physician offices, hospitals, or outpatient clinics, there is no shortage of job opportunities available for well-trained medical assistants. So if you’re passionate about helping others and want to make a difference in the healthcare industry, pursuing an associate degree in medical assisting could be the perfect path for you.

FAQs

What is a medical assisting associate degree?

A medical assisting associate degree is a two-year program that provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to work in the healthcare industry as a medical assistant.

What kind of courses will I study in a medical assisting associate degree program?

The courses you will study in a medical assisting associate degree program include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, clinical procedures, and administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and managing patient records.

Will I be able to take the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam after completing my medical assisting associate degree?

Yes, after completing your medical assisting associate degree program, you will be eligible to take the CMA exam. This certification can improve your job prospects and salary potential.

Do I need any prior experience or education to enroll in a medical assisting associate degree program?

No prior experience or education is required for enrollment in a medical assisting associate degree program. However, it may be beneficial if you have some background knowledge in science or healthcare.

What career opportunities are available for those who hold a medical assisting associate degree?

Those who hold a medical assisting associate degree can work as clinical or administrative assistants in hospitals, clinics, private practices, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings.

Is it possible to transfer credits from my medical assisting assistant degree program to pursue higher education?

Yes, many colleges and universities offer credit transfer programs for graduates of accredited medical assisting associate degree programs seeking higher education degrees like Bachelor of Science.

Will I receive hands-on training during my studies for an Medical Assisting Associate Degree?

Yes! Medical Assisting Associate Degree programs require hands-on training by giving students practical experiences that prepare them for real-world situations they may face on the job.

What kind of skills will I develop during my studies in a medical assisting associate degree program?

You will develop a wide range of skills like proper patient interaction, performing basic medical procedures, billing and coding, efficient office management, patient care coordination along with the technical and administrative aspects of the medical field.

How important is accreditation when choosing an Medical Assisting Associate Degree program?

Accreditation ensures that the Medical Assisting Associate Degree Program meets certain standards and quality requirements. It is essential to verify if the Medical Assisting Associate Degree Program that you want to enroll has been accredited by credible organizations before making your final decision.

Will I be able to work part-time while pursuing my medical assisting associate degree?

Yes, many students work part-time while pursuing their medical assisting associate degree. However, it’s important to ensure that your work schedule doesn’t interfere with your studies. Effective time management and scheduling can help balance both responsibilities effectively.

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