Questions you can ask when deciding on which type of program to aim for:
Do other colleges accept transfer credits from this school?
Which other schools accept transfer credits from here and for exactly which classes?
Which entity is the school accredited through? Or has the school applied for accreditation and is in the process of obtaining it? How long has it been accredited?
What is the average class size? Is there room for individual attention?
Does the tuition include all books, uniforms and equipment? What will my total tuition be?
What are the specific terms of the educational loan? What is the interest rate?
What is the job outlook and the possibility for promotions?
Will the school help me find my first job? Is job placement assistance provided?
How much can I expect to get paid during the first years?
Are there cross-training and advancement opportunities?
Will the school help me find an internship/externship site?
Medical assistants may be asked to turn a dictated message into a written document. This often includes daily notes the doctor records about a patient medical exam, discussion, or consultations which must be added to the patient's medical chart in written format for future reference. This process is called medical transcription, so ask if this is included in the school's curriculum.
TRAINING AVENUES AND OPTIONS
Qualified candidates can become a medical assistant in two ways, either through direct on the job training, or
through formal post-scondary vocational training. Those who wish to learn medical assisting skills should to do
some information gathering first; by comparing vocational and career training options from different schools you
are giving yourself options.
Completing a typical classroom based training program that ends with a medical assistant diploma teaches the
clinical medical assistant aspects and the administrative aspects, which may take about 9-11 months from start
to finish. Those interested usually need to have a high school diploma/GED to qualify for a school based
vocational training program. When contacting a vocational training institution you should already have an idea
1. What are your short and long term career goals?
2. What are the educational requirements to succeed?
3. What are employer's expectations and how much do they pay?
4. What are present job market prediction and future outlook?
Find out how long the program will take, whether it qualifies you for recognized certifications and what kind of
documentation you will receive upon graduation. Ask whether the program is completely campus based, a
combination of classroom instruction and online learning, or entirely web based. If it IS a distance education
program, ask whether the certificate or diploma you earn will have the words "online progam" printed on it. Ask
whether the program requires an externship in a medical office and who will be responsible for locating and
securing a suitable externship site; also, whether you will qualify to sit for a medical assistant certification exam.
Find out how long the program has been in existence, how many people have graduated successfully and what
their job placement rate is. If it is an online course, ask whether their certificate will have “online program” printed
on it. The most promising medical assistant training programs are those which are approved by the U.S.
Department of Education and accredited by the Commission of Accreditation on Allied Health Education
Programs (CAAHEP) and ABHES.
DIPLOMA OR DEGREE
Whether a medical assistant degree is better than a diploma has been debated for the longest. What makes a
diploma or degree useful for hiring is what it says about the holder and what an employer expects. The employer
may see it as the applicant having the knowledge or skills that apply directly to the job. This understanding
increases when a medical assistant has also passed a medical assistant certification exam.
While some employers may prefer one credential over another and others are completely neutral on this, hard
skills essential to the field (clinical, administrative, clerical, and patient care procedures), technical skills
(computer, patient monitoring and diagnostic devices) and customer services are thought to be crucial. Certain
State Medical Boards require specialty training and limited licenses for certain technical skills, e.g. phlebotomy,
ECG/EKG, starting IV lines, ultrasound, or x-rays. One of these states is Florida where medical assistants must
have a limited x-ray license before they can take any radiological images, another is California where anyone
who draws blood must be certified. Make sure the school of your choice teaches what you need to practice your
skill in your state, otherwise our employability is instantly diminished. Doctors want medical assistants that can
be rotated from the front to the back office should the need arise and should seamlessly fit into an administrative
or clinical position.
LONG AND SHORT TERM GOALS
Know your long and short term educational and career goals and then pick a
school according to your future aspirations.The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
and the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed how workers' education and training
relates to their job prospects and earnings, however, opportunities also exist for
those who prefer to acquire job related skills directly on the job. If you intend to
use your medical assistant career as a springboard to later on pursue a career in
another related field, such as nursing, health information management (HIM),
medical office management or hospital administration, or enter into one of the
many medical and laboratory technologist occupations, we strongly recommend
that you enroll in a two year program at a college, or online program from a
college leading to an Associate in Applied Science degree (A.S. or AAS) or
higher. In many cases, some of the earned college credits can then be transferred
toward that degree or take care of the required prerequisites which will make a