There are a growing number of opportunities available in the health care industry, including positions for clinical medical assistants with an associate degree. Online classes for clinical medical assistant training offer a flexible curriculum for working adults, busy parents, or those with travel restrictions. Common subjects covered include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, clinical practice, pharmacology, medical office management, and health care law and ethics. Many programs will also incorporate an internship as well. Graduates are prepared to fill positions with doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities. While certification is not mandatory in most states, employers may prefer to hire candidates who are professionally certified medical assistants.
Why an Associate Degree?
In most cases, an associate degree will take two years of full-time study. Typically, medical assisting positions only require an associate or certificate. This makes it an ideal option for students interested in entering the health care industry in a relatively short time frame. In addition, the general education requirements included with this type of program provide a good base should students decide to transfer their credits towards a bachelor’s degree in the future. Job opportunities across the field are expanding, making medical assisting an appealing field of study in terms of career prospects.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
If you are interested in attending a degree program for clinical medical assisting online, it is important to ensure you understand the admissions process. Here are a few common eligibility requirements to consider:
- A high school diploma or GED
- Any transcripts from other college course work
- Application form and fee
- Application essay (if required)
Inside a Clinical Medical Assisting Associate Degree Program
Most online clinical medical assisting programs take two years to complete. This, however, can vary based on level of enrollment, any breaks taken from the program, and whether or not any transfer credits are applied. Core subjects frequently include human anatomy and physiology, biology, pharmacology, medical terminology, health care operations, clinical procedures, and health care law and ethics, to name a few. General education courses in communication, humanities, social science, natural science, and mathematics are also required for associate degree students.
The majority of online colleges offer asynchronous classes. This means there are no scheduled class times. Rather, students are free to participate in discussion boards, turn in assignments, review instructor feedback, and download course materials, on their own schedule, as long as set deadlines are met. This is ideal for students who want to continue working while earning their education. Externship components common for this area of study can also be arranged remotely for distance learners.
What’s Next for Clinical Medical Assisting Associate Degree Holders?
Once you have earned your associate degree, it is recommended you seek professional certification. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified through the American Association of Medical Assistants, American Medical Technologists, National Center for Competency Testing, or the National Healthcareer Association. Most accredited programs should prepare you to take one of these exams. Job opportunities are available with hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, and other related facilities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts strong job prospects for this occupation. In fact, from 2010 to 2020 the demand for medical assistants is expected to increase by 31%. This is more than double the 14% growth expected for jobs overall during this time frame. In 2011, the average annual salary for medical assistants was $30,170. The majority of openings were found with doctors’ offices, followed by general medical and surgical hospitals. Please note, actual salaries and job prospects will depend on your location, level of experience, education, and the specific employer.