If you are interested in becoming a medical assistant, you may be considering whether or not you should enroll in medical assistant school.
In most states, completing a medical assistant training program is not required to work as a medical assistant. However, there are several reasons why medical assistant school is a great idea for anyone looking to take their career to the next level.
Some of these reasons include being more prepared for your job, gaining valuable experience, and becoming a more competitive job applicant.
There are several different types of medical assistant programs offered. The most common are associate degree programs and certificate programs. The biggest differences between the two are that certificate programs are usually cheaper and take less time to complete.
Now that you know more about the kinds of programs available, you may be wondering “Is medical assistant school hard?”
Fortunately, medical assistant school is not typically considered hard by most who go through it. Completing a program is very doable if you are motivated to study and have an interest in topics such as medical billing, medical terminology, and patient care.
Is Medical Assistant School & Training Hard?
In general, medical assistant school is not especially difficult.
Medical assistant programs range in length from a few months to two years. During this time, students will learn about a wide variety of topics and skills. Those who study effectively and manage their time wisely tend to do really well. Accelerated medical assistant programs, which last just 6 to 10 weeks, are much more difficult as you have to learn a lot of information in a short period of time.
If you have a strong interest in healthcare and have done well in previous science courses, then you may find medical assistant school easy. In addition, if you have some familiarity with how healthcare facilities operate on a day-to-day basis, then medical assisting may come naturally to you.
In contrast, you may find a medical assistant training program hard if you tend to struggle with subjects like biology, chemistry, or anatomy. Medical assistants—especially those who want to help with clinical tasks—will need to have a solid understanding of these subjects in order to do their jobs effectively.
The biggest difference compared to other science courses you have taken is that in medical assistant school, you will be expected to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting. For many people, this can be a big jump in difficulty, as they may never have had to actually use what they have learned in a workplace environment.
Topics Covered in Medical Assistant School & Training
Each medical assistant program has its own set of required courses. Overall, you will generally learn the same things, with some differences in the way the curriculum is structured.
Here are some of the topics that are typically covered in medical assistant school:
- Medical terminology. This is the language of medicine. A strong grasp of medical terminology is essential when maintaining patient records and communicating with other healthcare staff. You can learn more about terminology you should know as a medical assistant here.
- Legal and ethical issues in healthcare. There are many policies put into place to protect patients, staff, and sensitive healthcare information. It is important to understand them so that you can provide care that is both ethical and legal.
- Anatomy and physiology. These courses go over the various structures of the human body and their functions.
- Pharmacology. These courses go over drugs, their effects on the body, and how the body processes them. It is important to know the names of various drugs, their indications, and their side effects.
- Clinical procedures. In general, these courses teach the various skills needed to perform clinical tasks, such as taking vitals, reviewing patient histories, and collecting lab specimens.
- Medical billing. Another crucial part of healthcare is working with billing and insurance. These courses will teach you how to code for various procedures and office visits.
- Administrative tasks. In addition to clinical tasks, medical assistants also perform administrative duties, such as scheduling appointments, maintaining accurate records, and answering phone calls.
How You Can Make Sure You’re Successful in Medical Assistant School
Medical assistant school is an investment towards your future career, so it is important to take the steps you need in order to do well in the program.
Here are some useful tips to make sure you are successful in medical assistant school:
- Attend all classes. Going to lectures and laboratory sessions is important. It helps you stay on pace with the course material. It also helps you establish a routine.
- Take the time to personally meet your instructors. Building relationships with your instructors can help get you through difficult courses. It is also a great opportunity to network with others in the medical assistant field, which can be useful for finding a job in the future. Some ways of interacting with your instructors are going to office hours and asking questions.
- Participate in class. Asking and answering questions during class can help you stay engaged. Participating during class is also a great way for instructors to get to know you more.
- Seek help if needed. It is completely okay to ask for help if you are struggling with a class or particular skill. Your instructors are there to help you learn and become the best medical assistant you can be.
- Use the internet to expand your studying. The internet has a variety of resources and information available for students in medical assistant school. Take advantage of this and use those resources to help you better grasp the course material.
- Study with other students. Studying with others is one of the most effective ways to learn. During a study session, a classmate might bring up something important that you might have overlooked. In addition, studying with others helps you improve your communication skills, which will help prepare you for your future career.
- Stay organized. Going to school means dealing with lectures, deadlines, and exams. In order to succeed, you will need to stay organized. Find a method that works for you, such as using a daily planner or the calendar on your phone.
What to Consider When Choosing a Medical Assistant School
Not all medical assistant programs are the same. Here are several things to consider when choosing the best medical assistant school for you:
- Online vs in-person. In addition to traditional in-person programs, there are many medical assistant programs available through an online format. These online programs are typically asynchronous, meaning that you can complete them at your own pace. As a result, they offer more flexibility.
- Certificate vs degree. Certificate programs are usually shorter and cheaper than degree programs. Both types typically lead to the same job opportunities.
- Certification pass rate. This measures how well the program prepares its students to succeed on one of the medical assistant certification exams. It can be thought of as an indicator of the program’s quality.
- Cost. Certificate programs tend to be cheaper than associate degree programs. You can learn more about how much medical assistant programs cost here.
- Length. Certificate programs usually take around 10 months to complete, while associate degree programs can take up to 2 years to finish .You can learn more about how long medical assistant programs take here.
- Externship availability. Some programs offer placement in a medical assistant externship, which is a great way to network and gain valuable real-life work experience.
- Job placement help. Some programs offer a variety of resources to help you find a job once you complete the program. Here at Stepful, we even offer a 100% job placement guarantee with our online medical assistant program.
Are the Medical Assistant Certification Exams Hard?
After completing an accredited medical assistant program, you are eligible to take one of the certification exams. After passing one of these exams, you earn a certification that shows that you have met the highest standards in the medical assistant profession.
In general, the certification exams are not considered to be hard. If you have completed a medical assistant training program and studied for the exam, you should be very well-prepared.
The exams usually cover a broad range of topics that form the basis of the medical assistant curriculum. For example, the National Healthcareer Association’s Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam covers topics such as administrative assisting, clinical patient care, and basic science.
All that being said, most states do not require that medical assistants hold a certification in order to work. However, there are several benefits to getting a certification, such as better job opportunities, more experience, and the potential of a higher salary.
Is Being a Medical Assistant Hard?
As with any healthcare career, there are pros and cons of working as a medical assistant, and it can be hard at times. Here are some challenges you may face and some skills you will need:
- Busy work environment. This will vary depending on the number of patients your workplace sees. In general, medical assistants will have their hands full during a typical workday, jumping between administrative and clinical tasks.
- May spend a lot of time on your feet. Some medical assistants play a more active role in patient care by performing tasks such as taking patient vitals and case histories. They may spend a lot of time on their feet walking around between exam rooms.
- Organization. Because medical assistants can perform a wide variety of tasks, being organized is crucial. This is especially important when working with scheduling or patient records.
- Communication skills. Medical assistants are often one of the first people that patients talk to when they go to get care. It is important to be able to give instructions and explain policies to patients.
- Patience. Things may not always run smoothly in a healthcare setting. Being able to keep calm when working with unhappy or distressed patients is an important skill.