Finding the time to attend a college to further your education presents a series of challenges.
You may feel that traveling to and from college either before or after work eats into your free time.
Or, that managing the time to sit and actually review the work is a near-impossible task.
If you have considered a career in the health care industry as a medical assistant but cannot seem to organize yourself to do it, then you may be a good candidate for an online course.
There are various schools across the US that offer an online medical assistant training course that may be suited to you.
- What Courses Are in an Online Medical Assistant Program?
- Can You Earn a Medical Assistant Certification Completely Online?
- How Long Does it Take to Earn a Medical Assistant Certification Online?
- How Much Does an Online Medical Assistant Certification Cost?
- Benefits of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs
- Drawbacks of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs – Summary Table
- Types of Medical Assistant Certifications
- 4 Self-Study Tips for Medical Assistant Online Students
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Courses Are in an Online Medical Assistant Program?
Course materials will differ from one program to the next.
It will depend on the institution as well as the duration and type of qualification.
The course material is intended to introduce students to the functions and various structures of human anatomy.
The course material included in this program covers a range of topics involving concepts in human anatomy, how to manage an office in a medical facility, HIPAA guidelines, preparation and processing of medical paperwork, medical terminology, administration of medicine, as well as minor medical procedures.
Some of the more advanced programs may include business-related topics such as office management and financial management.
Below is a list of possible topics that may be covered in this program:
- Medical terminology
- Medical insurance and management of medical records/electronic records
- Medical law, administration, ethics
- Medical clinical procedures
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical lab procedures
- Patient interaction/human relations
- Emergencies in the medical office
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Safety in the medical office
- Blood testing
- Financial management
- Blood testing
Can You Earn a Medical Assistant Certification Completely Online?
The medical assistant certification may be obtained completely online.
However, students are required to get hands-on experience in order to successfully be able to do the job.
Online training programs do not offer students access to facilities where they are able to gain valuable hands-on experience in patient triage strategies, acquire the necessary skills in patient care techniques, as well as assist with various procedures.
These skills are a necessity in order to obtain a qualification and perform the job according to standards.
Ideally, students should opt for courses that offer a blend of online and in-class training.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Medical Assistant Certification Online?
The medical assistant programs are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, or traditional colleges.
Students have two options when pursuing a qualification in this field:
A certificate/diploma course
This course may take up to one year to complete and may require either clinical work or an internship.
Provided that this program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) students are eligible to sit for the national exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
An associate degree
This course will take up to two years to complete when studying full-time or three to four years if studying part-time.
Similarly, students who pursue an associate degree may sit for the national examination offered by AAMA, provided that the course is accredited by CAASHEP or ABHES.
How Much Does an Online Medical Assistant Certification Cost?
Tuition, application fees, and admission fees will differ from one institution to another offering the same course.
The application fee for a certificate course may range between $30 and $300 and tuition for the same course will range between $800 to $25,000 with the average price being $14,500.
For the associate degree course, application fees will range between $3,500 and $40,000.
Keep in mind that the tuition may or may not include items such as books, required clothing, and other materials.
This is an important factor to keep in mind when selecting a school as the cost may be considerably affected.
Benefits of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs
There are some benefits associated with studying for a medical assistant qualification online.
Keep in mind that this program does require students to perform lab work and take part in an internship/externship.
Here are three benefits of studying online.
1. Less expensive
This program is more cost-effective when pursued online due to the fact that students are not required to purchase books or other learning material.
Most programs include these elements with the courseware.
In addition, schools that offer these programs online, do not have the overheads that brick-and-mortar establishments have and can offer the program at a reduced fee.
US Career Institute, for example, offers the course completely online and the tuition is $1239 if paid in full.
In addition, the school charges a one-time application fee of $29.
The tuition covers the exam fee and all learning material.
Penn Foster, for example, offers this course at a discounted rate of $1,099.
The tuition includes all books and other learning material as well.
The course is accredited and students are eligible to sit for the national examination.
2. There is no dress code
Students who study on-premises are required to wear a scrub uniform.
This is not required when studying online.
However, students are required to purchase their uniforms once they graduate.
The online medical assistant course offers students the flexibility of self-paced study.
Students can access learning material at a time and place that is convenient to them, provided that the course material is completed within the stipulated time frame.
Online classes are designed to be self-paced or live lectures, depending on the school and type of course.
For self-paced classes, students may access the class during lunch breaks or after work.
Drawbacks of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs
Studying for certification online has its drawbacks.
While this format is suited to many types of programs, not all are a good match.
1. Cannot gain hands-on experience
There is a big downside to studying this type of course online.
One requirement to sit for the national examination is that students must gain hands-on experience through an externship.
Upon completion of classroom training, students are required to complete a set amount of working hours in a clinic or medical office that will help prepare them for the national examination and their chosen field.
This type of training is usually included in classroom training, as the school often assists with placing students in an externship with a medical office or a local clinic as part of the program.
However, this option is not available to students who study the course online.
These students must find placement by themselves.
In addition, online programs rarely, if ever, offer students any kind of assistance in securing an internship upon completion of the training course.
During the externship, students work with professional medical assistants.
This allows the student to gain real-life experience in a medical office or facility.
Classroom training lays the foundation, while practical experience allows students to put this new knowledge into practice.
2. Limited to no support
Another big drawback of these types of courses is that there is often very limited support during the course of study from the institution.
This, however, does not apply to all online schools or programs.
Some programs offer good support and community forums where students may meet other students studying for the same qualification.
However, there is still limited opportunity for networking with an online course.
3. Limited assistance with preparation and passing the exam
With online courses, students have limited, and sometimes even no support, when it comes to preparation for the national examination.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs||Drawbacks of Online Medical Assistant Training Programs|
|1. Less expensive||1. Cannot gain hands-on experience|
|2. There is no dress code||2. Limited to no support|
|3. Flexibility||3. Limited assistance with preparation and passing the exam|
Types of Medical Assistant Certifications
There are five main medical assistant programs that students may attend:
- Certified medical assistant (CMA)
- Registered medical assistant (RMA)
- Registered medical assistant (RMA)
- Certified medical administrative assistant (CMAA)
- Nationally certified medical assistant (NCMA)
In addition to these certifications are the Medical assistant specialty certifications:
- International Medical Assistant (IMA) certification
- Specialty Certified Medical Assistant (SCMA) certifications
The Specialty Certified Medical Assistant (SCMA) Certifications allow students to specialize in a specific field.
These fields include:
- Women’s health specialty certification (SCMA-WH)
- Obstetrics and gynecology certification (SCMA-OBG)
- Pediatrics specialty certification (SCMA-PD)
- Internal medicine specialty certification (SCMA-IM)
- Family medicine specialty certification (SCMA-FM)
- Geriatrics specialty certification (SCMA-G)
- Endocrinology specialty certification (SCMA-END)
- Cardiology specialty certification (SCMA-CD)
- Dermatology specialty certification (SCMA-D)
- Urology specialty certification (SCMA-U)
- Oncology specialty certification (SCMA-ON)
- Transplant surgery certification (SCMA-TTS)
- Orthopedic surgery certification (SCMA-ORS)
4 Self-Study Tips for Medical Assistant Online Students
Here are four tips to help you study for your online medical assistant certificate.
1. Develop good study habits
You will need to start by developing good study habits.
You are in control of the pace at which you study.
This requires discipline and commitment toward your goals.
Students should set out clearly defined goals for completing the online course.
This involves managing time and organizing time so that goals can be achieved and the course may be completed within due time.
2. Build relationships with other students and educators in the online forum
There is a lot that goes into managing your own pace and study time.
Unlike the convenience of a brick-and-mortar establishment where you will be studying with other students and have direct access to your educators, this is not always the case with online studying.
Students should make a point of building relationships in the online forums to gain the most out of this experience and to be able to get quick responses to questions.
3. Get comfortable with technology
Learn how to operate the online platform on which the course will be offered, which may be Google Class, Skype, or Zoom.
Make sure you are using the best possible search engine and that your PC screen, internet access, and audio are all working optimally.
Get comfortable with using the platform and try to enter the platform a few times before the actual classes to prevent any technical issues which may inhibit you from accessing the online classroom.
4. Choose the right school
This is possibly the most important step in preparing for your online course.
You must select the appropriate course before starting your studies.
Each state has different requirements.
Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your state before selecting a school.
In addition, your state may require that the school you select be accredited by the appropriate accrediting bodies.
Furthermore, ensure that upon completion of the course, you will be eligible to sit for the national examination.
Not all schools offer programs that qualify students to sit for the national exam.
Your education is the first step on your journey to a new career.
Start this journey by selecting the right school and the right course.
Keep in mind that not all programs are accredited.
Be sure to meet the state requirements for a medical assistant before you even embark on this journey by attending a course that allows you entry to the national examination.
Furthermore, self-study takes a lot of discipline.
Be sure to manage your time and organize yourself so that you set time aside to study.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the working hours of a medical assistant?
Most medical assistants work a typical 40-hour work week.
Some may work part-time, on weekends, or in the evenings as well.
What does a medical assistant earn?
The salary depends on a variety of factors such as location, the facility where the medical assistant is employed, type of education, and years of experience.
The hourly rate will fluctuate between $17.67 and will easily go up to $20.83 with over ten years of experience.
Is being a medical assistant a stressful job?
There is a fair amount of stress associated with this job, but it is not as stressful as other more demanding jobs.
Provided that you are able to organize yourself and your time, you should thrive in this type of job.
Is certification required to get a job?
There is no requirement for medical assistants to be certified or licensed in this field.
However, obtaining certification may secure a higher-paying job.
In addition, job responsibilities may be lower in certain states without certification.