A job as a medical assistant is a great opportunity to work in the medical field. Medical assistants work alongside physicians to take care of patients for a decent salary, learn about different medications and procedures, and get great experience if they want to pursue a more advanced healthcare career.
It is possible to become a medical assistant with only a high school diploma or GED, but most employers prefer to hire someone who is certified. Some training programs can be completed in just a few weeks, and you might be wondering if these accelerated programs are a good idea.
If you want to try an accelerated medical assistant program, you should be prepared to commit a lot of time to studying, since a lot of information will be packed into a short time. You’ll need to make sure you choose a good program—one that is accredited and has a high certification exam pass rate.
This guide will go over whether or not you should choose an accelerated medical assistant program, how long it might take you to finish training, and which programs might be best for you.
Deciding if an Accelerated Medical Assistant Program is Right for You?
Earning your medical assistant certification in just 4 to 10 weeks may sound tempting, especially if you are eager to get into the workforce. However, there are a few things you should consider before committing to and paying for an accelerated medical assistant program.
What you learn in medical assistant programs
Medical assisting programs cover the basic medical knowledge that you’ll need to work in a clinic, doctors office, hospital, or care center. Topics will cover:
- Ethics – Understanding laws and regulations within healthcare and respecting patient’s rights within healthcare.
- Anatomy and Physiology – Basic learning about the body and how it functions.
- Pharmacology – An overview of common medications including risks and side effects.
- Clinical Procedures – Learning and practicing things like taking vital signs and recording accurate measurements.
- Medical Billing and Coding – Understanding how medical billing works and how to make sure that accurate information is used to receive payment from patients and insurance companies.
- Medical Terminology – Understanding medical terms commonly used by physicians so that you can have clear communication while caring for patients.
- Medical Administrative Tasks – Knowing how to enter patient data into the computer system and keep patient schedules and procedure notes organized.
This information is usually covered over two full semesters in a medical assistant degree program.
To learn it all during an accelerated program, you’ll have to really focus and study hard. While you might be able to learn enough in an accelerated program to pass your certification exam, it may be hard to retain it all long-term which could affect your performance in your job.
How much time you have for taking classes and studying
If you are already raising a family and working full time, it will be difficult to complete an accelerated medical assisting program. However, if you have the ability to take a few weeks off from work or get more help with your home responsibilities, you might be able to make it work.
The best way to complete an accelerated program is to make sure you are free from other distractions during your weeks or months of medical assistant courses. While it is a big sacrifice, entering the workforce sooner or getting a raise can be worth the trade-off.
Is the program accredited?
It is always wise to check the accreditation status of any educational program you would like to attend. An accredited school is one that has met specific educational standards. Attending an accredited school means you are more likely to receive a high quality education with qualified instructors.
What is the certification exam pass rate?
In 2021, the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant exam pass rate was 77%, according to the National Healthcareer Association. You want to find a program that has at least an equal or higher passing rate. Higher passing rates usually mean the program prepares their students well and covers all required topics, therefore, giving them a better chance at becoming a medical assistant.
Stepful’s medical assistant training program, for example, has an exam pass rate of 85%—much better than the national average. Our program is, however, 4 months long, which is still pretty short but gives you more time to learn all the necessary topics to pass your exam.
What percentage of graduates get jobs?
The purpose of getting certified as a medical assistant is so you are ready to start working. Some programs are well known or have good relationships with local offices and clinics, making it easier for graduates to get hired.
About 80% of our students here at Stepful, for example, are able to find employment after graduating.
What have previous students said about the program?
Program websites are sure to highlight all of the best parts of their program. While it is good to read a program website thoroughly, reading reviews left by other students is a good way to get an honest and unfiltered opinion of a training program.
Look for mostly positive reviews and look for trends in compliments or complaints. The opinion of just one student can be taken with a grain of salt, but if several students like or dislike the same thing, it is probably a common occurrence at the school.
Do they help with job placement support?
Some programs offer job placement assistance and counselors to help you with things like resumes and interview preparation.
Stepful, for example, has instructors and counselors ready to help you every step of the way, from your first day of class to your first day of your new job.
>> Read More: Common Medical Assistant Interview Questions
Average Length of Medical Assistant Programs
Medical assisting programs can vary in length from just 6 weeks up to 2 years. Degree programs will take longer than accelerated programs, and some self-paced options advertise short but unrealistic lengths of time to complete.
- Online. Online medical assistant certification programs can be completed in 6 weeks for over full-time students, but generally take around 4-9 months to complete.
- Trade School. Trade school medical assisting programs usually last about 9 months.
- Certificate Program at Community College. You will typically spend 1 year earning your certificate from a community college.
- Associate Degree Program. Medical assistant associate degree programs take at least 2 years to complete for full-time students.
Accelerated medical assistant programs that only take 4 weeks or 6 weeks will require a huge time commitment. If you want to complete your program in just 6 weeks, you will have to commit to studying more than regular full-time students and may have to give up your job and other responsibilities while you complete the program.
A program around 4-months long gives you enough time to learn all of the required information without getting too overwhelmed, while still completing your courses fairly quickly.
How Stepful Can Help You Become a Medical Assistant in Just 4 Months
Stepful’s Online Medical Assistant Training Program is a 4-month medical assisting program with flexible scheduling options for working students, parents, and other busy people trying to complete a medical assisting education.
Our courses are 100% online for your convenience and include an externship to help you get hands-on experience.
Stepful prepares you to take the Certified Clinical Medical Assisting exam. We prepare you with the skills necessary to be an educated, competent, valued part of the healthcare team.
Some of the best things about Stepful include our 100% job placement guarantee and staff available for 1:1 coaching and job support. If you do not have a job within 6 months of graduation, you will receive a tuition refund.