What Is the Easiest Way to Become a Medical Assistant?

Way to Become MA

If you want to work as a medical assistant, or MA, you'll need some specialized training in order to increase your employability and career success.

On-the-job experience and training, a diploma program, a certificate program, or an associate's degree program are all options for an MA to obtain all of the training and education he or she needs to also have a harmonious and productive career that will give you a stable income.

Don’t know the difference between a diploma program or a certificate program? Are you wondering if on the job-experience or an associate’s degree would work for you? Read on about the different ways to become a medical assistant and see which is the right fit for you.

Get Your Training on the Job

While you can become a medical assistant with just a high school certificate and a strong drive to achieve, you'll need substantial experience in the healthcare area to be considered for the role. Working for the same physician or facility for several years and demonstrating your ability to give all of the essential clerical and clinical assistance is the greatest method to climb the career ladder into an MA job without getting a formal education from an accredited institution such as a trade school or community college.

On-the-job training to become an MA will not cost you any money past transporting yourself to work. There is no need to pay for post-secondary education in this instance. You'll need a high school graduation or a GED to work as a medical assistant through on-the-job training.

It is preferable to have a high school graduation with a focus on healthcare. This covers classes in human biology and anatomy, for example. The possibility to work while gaining experience is one of the advantages of this approach to getting an MA, which is a terrific option if you are supporting a family. You can also obtain all of the necessary training without having to attend classroom lectures or complete a practical.

The disadvantage of this option is that most healthcare providers such as doctors and hospitals prefer to hire MAs who have had formal training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants made between $22,040 and $43,880 per year in May 2015. Those with no formal training or certification earned the lowest pay, while those with associate's degrees and multiple certifications paid nearly twice as much. Finally, those without a post-secondary degree are frequently denied the opportunity to appear for exams by credentialing organizations. When they do, they'll need one to three years of experience working as a medical assistant.

Getting Certified as Medical Assistant

Certificate programs last between nine and twelve months, which is about the same as diploma programs. Unlike diploma programs, however, you can apply any credits you earned while studying toward an associate's degree program in the future. You can sit for any credentialing exam, including those provided by the National Health Career Association once you are finished with your program and have received your certificate from your accredited institution.

Depending on the area, the included courses, and the length of the externship, a one-year certificate program administered through community and vocational colleges can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,500. Those who enroll in certificate programs are eligible for the same scholarships as those who enroll in diploma programs. A certificate program, on the other hand, qualifies you for government funding. For example, if you want to get your MA certificate but have never earned a bachelor's or professional degree in any discipline, the Federal Pell Grant is a terrific alternative.

You have to have a high school diploma or a GED so you can enroll in a Medical Assisting program at a credible institution. To finish your externship, you'll also need to show proof of immunization or a vaccine card. Immunization records may need to be updated.

Employability is the biggest benefit of a certificate program. In addition to classroom learning, medical assistants who attend medical assistant certificate programs also gain valuable experience in the field. While a diploma holder may only learn how to take vital signs and administer injections (a broader look at the curriculum); a certificate holder may learn how to take x-rays and perform other, more complex procedures as part of their training. This has a significant impact on employability because certificate holders have a laser focused curriculum with labs and hands on training that show employers that they are ready and committed to meeting goals with success.

There are only a few disadvantages that may arise when getting a certification in person. The first one is that, well, you have to be there in person. Depending on how fast your program is, this may have you booked with school from 9am to 3pm every weekday for a few months. You’d be done in no time, but some are just not willing to make that temporary sacrifice.

Medical assisting certificate programs are easily accessible since they are not only popular, but they prove to be fruitful to many students who graduate and move on to get jobs. Because of the rise in demand, many accredited institutions offer online programs for their medical assisting programs. If you prefer a solid mix of in person and online classes or you just can’t decide, these same schools offer hybrid programs to solve your problem! Hybrid online courses involve a mix of in person lab and online lecture which can change on a case to case basis. These online opportunities give students the privilege of flexibility and room to finish their course work in their own way with success.

Enrolling in Diploma Programs for Healthcare Work

Another type of way to become a Medical Assistant is a diploma program which can usually be offered at a local community college and even sometimes local technical colleges so enrollment won’t be too taxing. It’s as simple as picking up a phone and chatting with an admissions advisor.

The typical cost of a medical assisting diploma ranges from $3,000 to $30,000, depending on various things such as your location, the prestigiousness of the program, the length of the program and the types of courses offered. There are a few different options for obtaining financial aid to cover the cost of a diploma program. For starters, during enrollment drives, many vocational and technical institutions may offer substantial discounts. Second, you can apply for scholarships, albeit many of them are only available to degree-seeking students, you can still find something that works for you. Along with scholarships there are also grants you can apply for with the help of a financial aid advisor.

To apply for an MA diploma program, a highschool diploma or your GED is required. This actually goes for most diploma programs in the US. It’s crucial to gain the building blocks of education in diploma programs as they are broader. There’s no need for any previous healthcare work because your externship course at the end of your curriculum will suffice for all the real world experience you need to succeed.

There are numerous advantages to enrolling in a medical assistant diploma program. It is the most cost-effective way to receive post-secondary education in your field. Furthermore, in densely populated locations, community, technical, and vocational institutions allow you to take lessons during the day or nighttime hours. The financial load of acquiring a diploma, as well as the requirement to attend classes on campus on a regular basis, are also disadvantages. Diplomas are not as prestigious as degrees, which may put you at a disadvantage when it comes to finding work.

Obtaining an Associates Degree To Become a Medical Assistant

Getting an associates degree in Applied Science is another way to achieve the career of a Medical Assistant. Associate degree programs and diploma programs are often mixed up, but they are indeed different. Associate degree programs are longer and more rigorous. They take about 2 years to finish at a local community college or technical school.

The typical cost of an associate's degree in medical assisting in the United States ranges from $8,000 to $3,500 each semester for locals and more than double that for out-of-state students. Students may also be expected to buy books and pay for laboratory costs. Like many other avenues of obtaining your Medical Assisting career, there are financial aid options such as grants, scholarships and even loans. Inquire with your schools financial aid department and they can find the best option for you and your financial situation.

Before you get your associates, there are some requirements you have to meet. It’s always required to have a highschool diploma or an equivalent, but some schools may even go as far as requiring you to have a certain grade point average. Oftentimes this GPA requirement isn’t very high, but it’s still a requirement to be met.

Obtaining an associate's degree in medical assisting comes with a slew of advantages. It not only makes you more marketable than someone who merely has a diploma or certificate, but it may also entitle you to a greater pay and better benefits, such as pension plans and health insurance. If you decide to pursue a profession as a nurse or radiologist in the future, your associate's degree can help you receive the education you need to get started in those fields. On the other hand, Associate's degree programs tend to be more tough and demanding than diploma or certificate programs because of their length and complexity. A minimum of two years of on-campus or online classes will be required of you, as well. If you are working, you may have to adapt your schedule to attend an associate's program because it may be less flexible than diploma or certificate programs.

Demand for Medical Assistants

It’s evident that there’s not one clear path to becoming a Medical Assistant. Some people like to skip traditional education and run straight to the job and some like to batten down the hatches and get their hands on work in a stable environment. Whatever you choose, make sure it’ll get you the results you need because the demand for healthcare workers is high and we need more talented medical assistants.

Learn More at Southern California Health Institute Newsroom

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