Most medical practices prefer to hire medical assistants who have graduated from an accredited school or community college. The courses offered by these schools generally last from one to two years. An AA degree is obtained upon completion of the program at a community college. The courses vary from school to school but most include such subjects as medical terminology, physiology, anatomy, medical transcription, typing, accounting, insurance coding, billing, laboratory procedures, and record keeping. In addition to required course work, many schools require that their students participate in internship programs. These programs give the students hands-on experience in a healthcare environment and help give them an insight into their future career.
Formal training is not always required for a person to become a medical assistant. Some doctors are willing to train their assistants on-the-job but this is becoming less common today. Most offices do not require certification but do expect them to have knowledge about certain medical practices such as taking vital signs, sterilization techniques, updating patient records, understanding insurance codes, basic first aid procedures, and taking and developing x-rays. In addition to administrative and clinical courses, medical assistants take classes on how to present them professionally in a medical office setting. They learn skills that assist them in being well-groomed and polite at all times. They also learn the importance of keeping medical information confidential and secure.
Many medical practices today prefer that their medical assistants have taken the necessary steps to become certified. They concentrate on hiring assistants who have proven their competency by passing an exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. Although most are not required to be licensed, they are much more in demand if they obtain their certification by this nationally recognized organization.
Enrolling in an accredited school and completing the required courses puts a person on the right path for a rewarding and lucrative career. Becoming certified makes it all that much more likely that numerous job offers will come along.