Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Medical Assistant Training Options: Diploma or Degree?


When it comes to vocational training and education, aspiring medical assistants have options. To achieve individual educational goals and career path choices, they must ultimately decide whether they want to enroll in a post-secondary vocational training program to earn a medical assisting diploma, or enter into a college program to earn a Medical Assistant Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, however, what is the difference?

Medical Assistant Diploma or Degree?

In a nutshell, a medical assistant diploma requires much less time from start to finish, costs less, and will lead to recognized credentials that enable the individual to enter the job market as a qualified medical assistant. The medical assisting AAS degree takes at least twice as long, approximately 2 years and unlike a diploma, the breadth of education and college credits earned can be used toward a higher college degree, or other salaried professional careers in the health care industry.

OCCC's Medical Assistant Degree Program as an Example

Let's use Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) and their medical assistant program as an example for many community colleges in other cities coast-to-coast. In this example, to earn their Medical Assistant AAS degree the student must earn a minimum of 65 credit hours.

Their major courses encompass essential medical assistant knowledge and skills, such as medical assistant applications, medical law and ethics, clinical and administrative medical office procedures, medical office laboratory procedures, pharmacology for medical assistants, as well as an externship, add up to 36 credits. The student must still pick up additional credit hours through other courses (minor) in general education, life skills, and support courses, such as medical terminology, human anatomy, and even English composition and math.

Anyone interested what the OCCC's medical assistant A..S. Degree entails can review their catalog online. It really (truly!) stands for most other similar medical assistant degree programs. Ultimately, every future medical assistant student has to decide on their own whether a diploma, or a degree is best for them, which in turn depends on their individual short and long term career goals, available time, and budget.

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