Are you interested in attending a medical assistant program but not sure if you have enough time to stop working and learn a new vocation? Finding two to four years to spend in college is a challenge, but if you’re interested in the healthcare field, there’s no need to put your education on the back burner. Did you know that you can become a medical assistant in as little as 7 ½ months attending full time or 15 months attending parttime? So, how do you become a medical assistant?
How Do You Become a Medical Assistant?
Some medical assistants have associate degrees, but most have vocational school diplomas. Vocational school programs are shorter but no less comprehensive. Vocational schools understand what you need to know and skip all the non-essential electives.
How Long is Medical Assisting School?
Students enrolled in a vocational school program full-time can graduate in as little as 7 1/2 months or take evening classes part-time and complete an education in 15 months, almost a year less than it takes to get an associate degree.
Why Get into Allied Health?
As allied health professionals, medical assistants support doctors and nurses by handling both administrative and clinical tasks in private practices, clinics, and medical facilities. Why consider getting involved? As a medical assistant:
You’ll Help Others
You can help others in whatever job you do. Compassion has no limits, but few roles are as personal as medical assisting. You’ll work with the medically and emotionally vulnerable, using your clinical and people skills to help patients. The relationships you’ll make will last a lifetime, and what you do will be remembered.
You’ll Be Part of a Team
If you enjoy the camaraderie that only comes with teamwork, you’ll enjoy being a medical assistant. As part of a like-minded group, you feel supported and valued for your training and contributions. Why be just another fish in the ocean when you can work where your opinion matters?
You’ll Support Your Community
COVID underscored the need for more frontline medical workers, but our communities face a pandemic of chronic illness every day. From diabetes to heart disease, still the world’s number one causes of death, people need the support of trained wellness professionals to live longer, healthier lives.
As a medical assistant, you can be there as support for your community. A frontline worker, you’ll be the foundation they need every day.
What Do You Learn in a Medical Assisting Program?
Vocational school medical assisting programs are designed for students that have a passion for medicine. The curriculum covers everything you need to know to be successful in an entry-level position. As a medical assisting student, you’ll learn about:
Doctors speak a special language, but it’s surprisingly easy to understand once you know how terms are constructed. It consists of combinations of prefixes, suffixes, and root words, and you’ll learn how to decipher what they mean by breaking them down into smaller parts.
Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and physiology courses cover how the body is made and how it works. You’ll learn about the major body systems, associated conditions and how they’re treated so that you can relate to patients and understand their needs.
Pharmacology is the study of therapeutic drugs and how they’re used to treat disease. Part of a medical assistant’s job is to help patients understand how and when to take their prescriptions. So, in this course, you’ll learn about major medications, their health benefits, risks and precautions.
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms. From sanitizing equipment to sterilizing instruments, medical assistants play a large role in implementing infection control measures in their workplaces. So, they need to learn how bacteria, viruses, and parasites make people sick. This course teaches you how pathogens grow and spread so you can take the appropriate measures to keep patients and coworkers safe.
Medical assistants are trained to support clinical staff by taking vital signs and performing diagnostics. As a student, you’ll learn to do electrocardiograms, which are electrical tracings of the heart that help doctors diagnose cardiac conditions. You will also learn urinalysis, an examination of urine under a microscope for signs of infection. How to draw blood from a vein with a needle, which is phlebotomy, will also be covered.
Medical assistants are trained to handle billing, coding and insurance issues. They manage most correspondence for providers as well as referrals. This course covers the basics of how a medical office operates, from records management to customer care, and includes how to use general office equipment as well.
Health Information Technology
One of the most important responsibilities for a medical assistant is keeping health information updated. However, charts are no longer stored in file cabinets. Instead, they’re stored on computers in two forms, EMR and EHR.
EMR, or electronic medical records, are like charts. They contain one doctor’s records including the patient’s history, demographics, test results, exam notes, billing information and treatment plans.
EHR, or electronic health records, have a broader scope. They contain the same types of data but from all collaborating providers so that it can easily be shared. This course shows students how to access, update, share and store data safely.
Medical Law and Ethics
Medicine is regulated for public safety, so there’s a mountain of workplace rules, even for medical assistants. This covers privacy and billing laws so that medical assistants can work safely. Also discussed are some of the common ethical dilemmas healthcare workers face and how to manage them.
What Are the Benefits of Taking a Vocational School Program?
The benefits of vocational school learning goes beyond a good education. Medical assisting students enjoy:
A Complete Curriculum
Some people believe that vocational school programs are incomplete because they’re short, but nothing could be further from the truth. Accredited institutions cover the necessary material and more in less time because they focus on practical skills. By eliminating elective courses that don’t directly contribute to students’ expertise, they reduce the time it takes to graduate, but the learning is no less intense or complete.
Small Class Sizes
If it’s been a while since you’ve been in school, returning to the college scene can be intimidating. However, vocational schools offer smaller class sizes, so you’ll learn in a more intimate and creative setting. You can count on more individual attention from your instructors and help from your peers. It’s a supportive environment for the adult student.
Hands-on Learning Opportunities
Vocational schools offer hands-on learning opportunities that bridge the gap between the classroom and the office environment. You’ll get to practice with clinical equipment similar to what you’ll use on the job. Off-site externships will allow you to observe seasoned medical assistants, prepare you for the workplace and help you make connections with potential employers. By the time you graduate, you’ll already feel at home in a healthcare setting.
College professors are experts in their subjects, but they don’t necessarily have experience in their students’ chosen fields. However, vocational schools hire instructors with real-world expertise. More than teachers, they’re mentors, people who’ve risen through the ranks in their profession and can show you the ropes. From improving your academic performance to job hunting, they’re in your corner.
A diploma has no real meaning unless it helps you land a job. Vocational schools take career services seriously, working with graduates to help them find employment. By working with local healthcare facilities to help meet their staffing needs, career services staff come to know employers and what they’re looking for. Advisers will work with you to help you find an opportunity that’s a good fit.
Now that you know how long a medical assistant program is, do you have 7 ½ months to learn a new vocational and start a rewarding career? Not only will you be helping others, but you will also have a good work/life balance. So, learn more about Hunter Business School and the great medical assistant program we offer.
Ready for a 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 an actual medical environment where they are supervised and taught in order to gain valuable on-the-job training.
Contact us today to find out more on how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.