Many medical assistants are now choosing to study online and train to become a medical assistant using online distance education programs. Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. Some medical assistants are trained on the job, but many complete formal medical assistant programs.
Medical assistant programs usually cover anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, as well as typing, transcription, recordkeeping, accounting, and insurance processing. Students learn laboratory techniques, clinical and diagnostic procedures, pharmaceutical principles, the administration of medications, and first aid. They study office practices, patient relations, medical law, and ethics.
There are various organizations that accredit medical assisting programs. Accredited programs often include an internship that provides practical experience in physicians' offices, hospitals, or other health care facilities. Formal training in medical assisting, while generally preferred, is not always required. Some medical assistants are trained on the job, although this practice is less common than in the past. Applicants usually need a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Distance education programs are available online at schools such as St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants at www.medassistant.
org. This program is self-paced and convenient for students who are unable to attend traditional medical assistant programs offered at vocational schools and junior college. Recommended high school courses for students interested in starting a career as a medical assistant include mathematics, health, biology, typing, bookkeeping, computers, and office skills. Volunteer experience in the health care field also is helpful.
Medical assistants who are trained on the job usually spend their first few months attending training sessions and working closely with more experienced workers. Medical assistants may advance to other occupations through experience or additional training. For example, some may go on to teach medical assisting, and others pursue additional education to become nurses or other health care workers. Administrative medical assistants may advance to office manager, or qualify for a variety of administrative support occupations. According to the United States Department of Labor, employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 35 percent from 2006 to 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the health care industry expands because of technological advances in medicine and the growth and aging of the population, there will be an increased need for all health care workers.
Increasing use of medical assistants in the rapidly growing health care industry will further stimulate job growth. As such there will be a continued demand for both traditional and distance education school programs for medical assistants.
Dr. Mark Stout, is the Director of Medical Assistant Education at St. Augsutine School of Medical Assistants offering medical assistant programs online. You can find more medical assistant school details at www.medassistant.org.