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What's Life Like in Medical Assistant School?

Posted in Medical Careers by Elizabeth on 18 Jun 2010

What's Life Like in Medical Assistant School?

Until I started working at SOLEX College, I had never heard the term "medical assistant", and I had no idea that there was such a thing as "medical assistant school". I've been to the doctor and been poked and prodded, but I just assumed the person administering these procedures was a nurse. Turns out that might not be the case. They were probably medical assistants. So now that I know these people exist, I wanted to find out what they go through to become capable of doing their jobs.

Who and What Are Medical Assistants?

According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, medical assistants are the ones who keep a medical office or clinic running smoothly. They perform various administrative and clinical functions and often act as a liaison between the doctor and the patient. For example it is often the medical assistant who takes vital signs and performs EKGs under the supervision of a physician. Because medical assistants have so much direct contact with a patient, it is incredibly important that they have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

What Kind of Training Do They Receive?

Most medical assistant schools offer programs that last nine months to a year. Good training programs will include both lecture and lab formats and cover a variety of topics related to the clinical and administrative aspect of being a medical assistant including electrocardiography, phlebotomy, medical billing and coding, diagnostic procedures, computer applications, law and ethics and pharmacology. They also include foundation courses such as medical terminology, pathology and anatomy and physiology. Most programs will also offer an externship so that you get practice working in an office environment under the direct supervision of an experienced medical assistant.

Who Teaches Medical Assistants?

Medical assistant school is usually taught by a number of different people who specialize in specific areas. For example, at SOLEX College anatomy and physiology is taught by a doctor, pharmacology is taught by a pharmacist, medical billing and coding is taught by a certified medical biller and coder, and so on.

Should Medical Assistants Be Certified?

There is no requirement that Medical Assistants be certified, in fact there is no requirement that a person attend medical assistant school as long as an employer is willing to provide on the job training. However, going through a medical assistant program and getting certification makes you so much more marketable thereby making it easier to get a job. There are several agencies that provide medical assistant certification.

One such agency that is used by SOLEX College is the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). NHA provides two types of certification; clinical and administrative. SOLEX College is an approved test site for both exams, so if you go through medical assistant training with them, you can easily take your certification exam without going anywhere else. One thing to keep in mind is that certification is subject to renewal and you will have to retake the exam every few years.

Is It a Good Time to Become a Medical Assistant?

Yes! A medical assistant career is currently one of the most stable in the market. Additionally, there is a growing demand for bilingual medical assistants, especially in the north and northeast suburbs of Chicago (Cook and Lake Counties).

Follow the links to get more information on medical assistant training and to get a more detailed look at SOLEX College's medical assistant program.