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Can You Get a Medical Assisting Diploma Online or in a Hybrid School?

COVID-19 is changing the way schools do business, whenever possible. Classes are being offered online to keep students and instructors safe.

But while some diplomas can be earned without stepping on campus, programs like medical assisting have hands-on training requirements that can’t be ignored. The good news for students is vocational schools are responding with hybrid medical assisting programs that offer the best of both worlds.

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What Is a Hybrid Medical Assistant Program?

Hybrid medical assisting programs combine remote lectures and on-campus lab work. Students participate in virtual classes remotely for lecture, theory, and simulation but head to school with appropriate safety precautions for practical and laboratory courses. The risk of illness is minimized, but students still get the in-person experience required for their future positions.

Why Can’t Medical Assisting Programs Be Only Online?

You can become a medical assistant by getting a diploma from an accredited program. Institutions accredited by independent organizations meet the highest educational standards.

Accredited schools’ curriculum must include core classes such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and administrative procedures, in addition to courses that teach clinical and laboratory skills that can’t be learned online. Taking vital signs, working with a microscope, drawing blood, and performing EKGs all take practice. The goal is to ensure graduates meet the minimum competency levels employers expect.

Accredited programs must also include a qualified externship during which students gain practical experience working with seasoned professionals in the field.

How Do Doctors and Hospitals View Medical Assistants Graduating from Hybrid Programs Because of COVID-19?

Remote education isn’t a new concept. It was introduced in the ’80s and has been growing in popularity ever since. Once skeptical of credentials earned exclusively via the internet, doctors and hospitals now recognize the value of online education.

Still, some wonder how these programs can teach practical skills, and it’s a good question. Medical assisting requires hands-on scientific expertise that can’t be learned by watching videos.

Thankfully, hybrid programs offer the same hands-on training as traditional programs, and graduates are well prepared to fill their roles.

With demand for medical assistants expected to rise in the coming years, doctors and hospitals are grateful students are enrolling despite challenges, and they recognize the many technical and soft skills they learn in the process.

Students in hybrid programs don’t learn just about virtual technology. They use it every day.

Hospitals and private practices offering telehealth services are eager to hire graduates with these critical skills. Being comfortable with virtual tech and remote conferencing, which are valuable skills in this digital age, is important.

Success in a hybrid program demonstrates graduates’ ability to focus, manage their time effectively, and meet deadlines whether they are on campus or virtual.

What Are the Benefits of a Hybrid Medical Assistant Program?

Benefit 1—Timely

Millions of baby boomers are retiring, and the health care system isn’t ready. The need for preventive health services is about to double, and we don’t have the ground level infrastructure to manage it.

We also don’t know how long COVID-19 restrictions will last, but as a nation, we can’t afford to wait to train the new medical assistants needed in the next decade. Hybrid programs allowing students to start learning now are a timely and overdue solution.

Benefit 2—Convenient

The reality is that some students won’t be able to follow their dreams because the closest school is too far away, even if it takes less than eight months to graduate. But long-distance learners can take some of their classes online, limiting visits to campus.

Benefit 3—Comprehensive

Hybrid medical assisting programs are equivalent to their conventional on-campus counterparts. Your diploma is just as valuable.

Students get the same high-quality education and receive the same number of clock hours required to seek certification. A vocational school’s reputation is tied to its students’ success, so the curriculum takes no shortcuts. Graduates never feel shortchanged, and prospective employers have confidence in their skills.

Benefit 4—Flexible

High school students who enter the workforce after graduation rarely pursue higher education. As adults, they have to work full-time to meet financial obligations, and there’s little time left to travel to school for classes. Advancing their career becomes an afterthought, and they earn less than their peers, far less over a lifetime.

Hybrid programs may open up opportunities for more people to work and go to school.

You’ll still work with the latest equipment in the lab and take part in short, off-site externships, but limited travel to campus is a better fit for busy schedules. Instead of taking classes part time or here and there when time allows, you can attend full time and earn a diploma in months, not years.

Benefit 5—Interactive

Traditional classrooms have a personal dimension some online learning lacks. But better hybrid medical assistant programs offer face-to-face instruction through virtual platforms that allow students, peers, and instructors to meet online. It’s a similar feel but with no assigned seating. You’ll feel like you’re in a classroom, sharing thoughts and collaborating with peers in a creative environment.

Benefit 6—Supportive

Adults have unique learning challenges. They’re busy, so finding time to meet in-person with instructors or study groups is tough—and risky with COVID-19. But students in hybrid programs have free access to online forums, including some that run off-hours to accommodate more people.

Benefit 7—Qualified for Financial Aid

Students enrolled in hybrid medical assisting programs approved by the U.S. Department of Education can qualify for the same financial aid as their on-campus peers. Despite the myth that most working adults don’t qualify for grants, low-interest loans or work-study programs, many do. Private institutions may also offer installment plans and help for students searching for scholarships.

Benefit 8—Value-Added

Career services are among the many benefits vocational schools offer. Advisors help students develop the academic and social skills necessary for success in the workplace. They also connect with local employers to help fill staffing vacancies, and in return, they’re often the first to know about open positions.

Career services also help graduates with job workshops, résumé writing, and mock interviews. These prepare graduates to go into the medical industry and secure a job.

At a time when conventional job hunting is restricted due to COVID-19, having access to school job boards and the help of an experienced career counselor is an invaluable benefit. Advisors know students’ preferences, strengths, and weaknesses, so they can match the best jobs with the most appropriate applicants. Many schools offer lifetime career services.

Students also have the opportunity to network among peers during externships, making connections with potential employers and their staff. Making a good impression during an externship can create great opportunities for future employment. It can be the difference between getting a job and getting the job of your dreams.

Benefit 9—Safe

Schools have learned a lot since the pandemic began, including how to keep students safe for in-person learning. Reducing unnecessary contact through hybrid learning is a top strategy, but when you have to be on campus, measures recommended by the CDC, from masking to social distancing, will limit your exposure to COVID-19.

Final Thoughts

Hybrid medical assisting programs are creating newfound opportunities for people interested in a health care career to get started. Whether you’ve been unemployed or just aren’t happy in your current job, there’s no better time to make a change. A diploma is a golden ticket in a changing and uncertain world.

Did learning about hybrid medical assisting training interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field?

The Medical Assistant program at Hunter Business School prepares competent, entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains required for professional practice.

The Medical Assistant program provides hands-on experience in a real medical setting where you can foster professional relationships with actual patients. Medical Assistant students spend 160 hours in an externship in a professional medical environment where they are supervised and taught in order to gain valuable on-the-job training.
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