Medical assisting is a rewarding field with a bright future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects demand growth of 16 percent through 2031. If you are interested in becoming a medical assistant, you have choices including diploma and associate degree programs. The program you pursue should reflect your aspirations and career goals. All graduates qualify for most of the same jobs, but a two-year degree is a better investment if you have big dreams in medicine.
What Are the Benefits of a Medical Assistant Degree?
Diploma programs are popular because they’re brief. Students are out of the classroom and into the field faster than their college and university counterparts. However, an associate degree helps you climb the career ladder. You’ll grow more as a person and a professional. The benefits include:
Benefit #1: Comprehensive Training
Diploma programs cover the basics, preparing graduates for entry-level jobs. Associate degree programs take a much deeper dive into medical assisting with in-depth instruction. The core curriculum includes expanded courses that better prepare you for more complex roles.
The general education courses round out your education and enrich you as a person. Explore the human mind in a Psychology class and sharpen your communication skills in the English and Oral Communications courses.
Benefit #2: A Relaxed Learning Environment
Short diploma programs teach a lot of information very quickly so some students can fall behind. Associate degree programs are more academically rigorous but less frantic. The pace is more manageable, so it’s easier to keep up. Topics are explored in-depth, so you’ll get the most out of each course. States require that all medical assistants have the same basic training regardless of the length of the program.
Benefit #3: Better Job Prospects
A degree helps you build a career. You’ll have an edge when applying for more challenging roles. Without experience, an associate degree shines on a resume. It demonstrates proven skills and your commitment to the field, giving you a competitive advantage over job applicants with lesser credentials.
You’ll be better positioned for advancement and won’t get stuck in an entry-level position while your peers are promoted. Employees with a degree are better investments for busy employers who like to promote people from within their ranks. The higher you start on the career ladder, the fewer rungs there are to climb.
Benefit #4: Soft Skills
Soft skills are personal attributes that help you better connect with people. While some are innate, most can be cultivated and nurtured through experience. Examples include communication, problem-solving, flexibility, creativity, and work ethic.
Healthcare is a person-centered field, so having the ability to build rapport with others is essential. However, if you’ve never worked in a medical environment, the need for strong interpersonal skills can take you by surprise.
In an associate degree program, every interaction you have with peers, instructors, and future colleagues contribute to your soft skills. You’ll graduate better equipped to build therapeutic and workplace relationships.
What Do You Learn During a Medical Assistant Associate Degree Program?
Degree programs offer a broader perspective on medical assisting and healthcare topics in general than diploma programs. Core courses include:
Human biology is the study of human life and its building blocks. Geared toward medical providers, courses explore the science of life as it pertains to the healthcare field. You’ll learn about the structure and function of cells, how they form tissues and their role in genetics and human development.
Introduction to Healthcare
Medicine is an expansive field employing hundreds of professionals. In this course, you’ll discover where you fit in as a medical assistant. Topics include the structure and management of American healthcare, cost control and quality assurance. The goal is to familiarize you with the challenges that patients and providers face.
Medical assistants need a firm grasp of healthcare terminology. This course empowers students to decipher complicated terms based on their parts, prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Approved abbreviations, common acronyms and units of measure are also discussed.
Anatomy and Physiology I & II
This subject is divided into two parts. The first course covers the five major body system. The second course covers the remaining 6 organ systems. Students earn the working knowledge they need to provide patient care.
Patient Care Procedures
Medical assistants serve as team representatives. This course covers the technical and soft skills required to be a successful caregiver and an effective liaison. Topics include outreach, communication, and privacy.
Communication is the cornerstone of medical assisting practice, medical assistants should be able to read, write and speak confidently. Here, you’ll learn the technical intricacies of communication and how to craft effective verbal and written correspondence.
Medical Office Management
This course offers an overview of how medical offices work and your job as a medical assistant. Topics include health information technology, human resources, and the revenue cycle.
Medical Office Procedures
Medical assistants play a central role in healthcare facilities, bridging the gap between patients and providers. You’ll guide patients through their visits while supporting both clinical and administrative colleagues. This class covers procedures from scheduling and inventory management to recordkeeping and customer service.
Medical Insurance, Coding and Billing
This introductory course explores the inner workings of public and private insurance plans. You’ll also get an overview of medical coding and general billing practices.
Introduction to ICD-10
ICD-10 is the world’s oldest coding system. Short for “the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision,” the manual contains alphanumeric codes for every known symptom, injury, and medical condition.
Part of a medical assistant’s job is to code superbills, lab requisitions and insurance forms using ICD-10. Accuracy is critical for timely reimbursement.
Exam Room Procedures
Medical assistants perform a broad range of clinical procedures from taking vital signs and EKGs to giving flu shots and assisting with patient mobility. This course covers the many technical procedures and your role as an assistant.
Laboratory Procedures I & II
Medical assistants function as laboratory technicians in office settings, you’ll collect biological specimens, draw blood, and perform routine diagnostic testing. This comprehensive two-part course covers phlebotomy, microscope skills, and specimen handling. Additional topics include lab safety, OSHA regulations, infection control, and personal protective equipment.
Radiology for Medical Assisting
Full-service medical practices are increasingly offering radiology services. Medical assistants help with equipment and patient preparation. In this course, you’ll learn to work safely in a radiological environment. Topics include positioning, draping and nuclear safety.
There’s more than one way to become a medical assistant. If you don’t have the time to get a degree, a diploma is a good option. However, education is more important than ever in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare field. Getting an associate degree is an investment in yourself.
Want to Learn More?
Now that you know more about the benefits of medical assistant degrees, it is time to learn more about Florida National University. We offer a diploma and associate degree program in Medical Assisting.
The purpose of this program is to prepare the student as a multi-skilled medical assistant. This is done through the acquisition of the knowledge and skills that are necessary to work in clinical and administrative settings at hospitals, clinics, medical labs, diagnostic centers, and doctor’s offices. In addition, the program offers options for entry-level positions such as front office procedures, back-office procedures. Students will be able to apply for the American Registry for Medical Assistants (ARMA) registry.
This program prepares the student for entry-level employment as a medical assistant technologist in administrative and clinical settings such as hospitals, clinics, medical labs, diagnostic centers, and medical offices. The program includes a fifteen-credit-hour component of general education/ liberal arts courses. The student is prepared for challenging the CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) and the RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) certification examinations, and the National Certification exam of Phlebotomy.
If you are interested in medical assisting, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our medical assistant diploma and degree programs.