Traditionally, there are two types of medical assistant programs, two-year career training programs which result in an Associate’s Degree, and a one-year, or accelerated medical assistant programs held at vocational training institutions resulting in either a certificate or diploma that also qualify their graduates to sit for the national certification exams.
Job Oriented Vocational Training:
Vocational training institutions usually structure their programs to be realistic and simulate the workplace to teach their students the skills they need to get a job, stay employed, and advance in their profession.
This includes teaching medical assistant students all administrative, clinical, technical, and nontechnical skills, enhancing problem solving, and teamworking skills, improving their oral communications, and work ethics, refining their interpersonal, and collaborative abilities with others, and reinforcing cognitive traits that they will have to rely on once they are on the job.
Training on the Job:
However, formal training in medical assisting while generally preferred is not always required. There still are many employers, usually physicians in group or private practices, who prefer to train their medical assistants according to their own specific needs.
Because all medical assistants, whether trained in a school, or on the job must be able to efficiently handle administrative, and clinical skills, which includes simple STAT lab tests, running automated office machines, autoclaves, urinalysis, and hematology systems, and pass certain other related competencies, prior volunteer experience in the healthcare field, or prior work experience in a nursing home, health clinic, home healthcare setting, hospital, customer services, or reception desk can prove to be extremely helpful!
eLearning for Medical Assistants -- Modern vs. Traditional Instruction:
More and more medical assisting and related technical career courses are being made available over the Internet via structured distance education programs. The availability of online classes is expanding coast to coast. They promise conveniences that real classroom teaching can hardly provide.
Although their lessons are often well thought out and well planned through use of virtual classrooms, audio visual presentations, and digital collaboration via a personal computer they do not necessarily offer the same quality and quantity of education as on campus classroom instruction offers. Since elearners students are lacking in the direct student-instructor, student-student interaction, and clinical hands-on aspects of the training they automatically miss out in some of the most crucial and indispensable requisite areas of quality career education and training.
Choosing a Program:
Experts in the field always recommend that medical assistant students only deal with reputable training institutions, and choose from respected programs that are recognized and accredited by the RIGHT organizations. Furthermore, they should seek out schools where caring instructors are "real world" faculty professionals qualified (through certification) and trained in the areas of clinical, administrative, and pharmacology lab. Only this way will medical assistant students receive the knowledge and training they need to succeed.
eLearners.com recommends: (Quote) "Knowing something about a school's accreditation can tell you a lot about the value of the degree or course for which you are paying. If you obtain a degree or take a course from a non-accredited institution you may find that the degree is not recognized by some employers or that the course credits may not transfer to other institutions. Understanding accreditation can also help you identify and avoid "diploma mills" (i.e. an unaccredited institution that grants degrees without ensuring students are properly qualified.)" (End Quote). Read their very informational article on Distance Learning Accreditation!
Medical assistant seeking classroom or distance education programs for their training should check whether they are approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and check with regional accrediting agencies that have been evaluated and deemed to meet high quality standards.
See TOP Schools! To learn more about educational requirements, and practical tips for handling emergencies, and proper documentation visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web. There is lots of additional "scope of practice for medical assistants" info at that web site.