Online Medical Assisting Associate Degree

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

A career in medical assisting lets you support patients' well-being by handling administrative and clinical responsibilities. Whether recording a patient's medical history, measuring their vital signs, administering medications, or scheduling their next appointment, you can help physicians and medical professionals improve people's lives. Working in hospitals, doctors' offices, and treatment centers puts these professionals at the frontline of the healthcare industry. Opportunities abound for those who earn an associate in medical assisting online, especially since they can attend school while continuing to work and strengthen their practical knowledge.

This field continues to grow faster than average, largely due to the aging baby boomer population. An increase in the number of clinics and group practices also contributes to this demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 29% increase in medical assistants between 2016 and 2026.

Medical assistants earned a median annual income of $33,610 in 2018, with jobs at outpatient care centers proving the most lucrative. The highest 10% of earners in the field had an annual salary above $47,000.

Earning Your Associate in Medical Assisting Online

Completing a medical assistant associate degree online affords prospective students multiple advantages. Asynchronous programs allow you to attend class at your convenience and balance personal, professional, and academic demands. Distance learning also permits you to continue working while in school. Furthermore, an online program can allow you to avoid costs related to commuting or on-campus room and board.

While associate in medical assisting online programs usually require participants to engage in some hands-on clinical experiences, students typically complete such requirements at facilities near their homes. A practicum offers a first-hand understanding of the many facets of this career, from records maintenance to interacting with patients.

How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Medical Assisting Associate Degree Online?

On average, an associate in medical assisting online program take two years of full-time study to complete. Enrolling part time allows for increased flexibility, but it also extends your graduation timeline. While the exact number of credits in a program depends on the school you select, most students must need to earn about 60 credits to satisfy graduation requirements. These include general educational courses, medical assisting core classes, and clinical coursework that teaches skills like administering injections and performing lab tests. In addition, students earn credits for participating in a supervised practicum at an authorized medical setting.

Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Medical Assisting

Students seeking admission into online medical assistant associate degree programs must have earned a high school diploma or GED certificate. Depending on the institution, applicants may also need to meet minimum GPA requirements in order to be considered. Many schools also ask students to submit their ACT or SAT scores. In addition, your admission packet may include letters of recommendation from supervisors and teachers as well as a statement explaining your reason for pursuing a medical assisting degree.

Courses in an Online Associate in Medical Assisting Program

Students who earn their medical assistant associate degree online receive a well-rounded education. Courses explore topics in social science, English, math, and behavioral science. This curriculum helps prepare learners for a successful career. Additionally, you can expect to apply classroom knowledge in a hands-on practicum setting. Graduates can transition directly into the workforce or go on to pursue a four-year degree.

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Students learn about the human body, with particular emphasis on the development of physiological processes and anatomical structures. This course explores tissue classifications, nervous and sensory systems, the skeletal system, and cell structure. It may also include complementary laboratory exercises that study the digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems.

  • Medical Terminology for Allied Health Sciences: Participants deepen their understanding of medical terms by learning about word origins, roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Students also explore word building, symbols and abbreviations, and vocabulary related to human anatomy. This class prepares graduates to work closely with medical experts and effectively communicate in professional healthcare settings.

  • Medical Assisting Skills: This class develops the competencies needed to aid physicians in many types of medical practice. Students learn to sterilize instruments and equipment and coordinate sterile trays. Coursework also discusses electrocardiography, infection control, and gender-specific examinations. Advanced topics may cover nutrition, radiology, and specimen collection and examination.

  • Pharmacology in the Medical Office: Students learn about medication therapy, focusing on safety, side effects, actions and adverse reactions, and food and other medication interactions. Learners also receive instruction related to the arithmetic of administering medicines. Moreover, the class looks at medication classifications, the forms and sources of medications, and the impact of bodily systems.

  • Human Diseases: This course covers the fundamentals of common diseases and bodily system disorders. Students learn about diseases that affect each system so they can recognize symptoms, determine appropriate diagnostic protocols, and enact appropriate management strategies. The course also discusses how best to prevent certain kinds of diseases.

Job and Salary Outlook for Online Associate in Medical Assisting Graduates

You can pursue a variety of careers once you earn an associate in medical assisting online, and graduates can assume administrative or clinical roles. You may opt for a position that requires oversight of sensitive medical records or one that works directly with patients to draw blood, take X-rays, and remove stitches. Regardless of the path you choose, medical assistants should be patient and be able to focus on details.

Medical Assistant

Median Salary: $33,610

Duties vary depending on a worker's specific setting, but they commonly include helping with patient exams, preparing blood samples for testing, entering patient data into medical records, and measuring vitals like blood pressure. An associate degree may prepare graduates to specialize in ophthalmic medical assisting or aid specialty doctors in surgery

Dental Assistant

Median Salary: $38,660

In addition to taking X-rays and performing cleanings, these professionals sterilize dental instruments, complete lab-related tasks, and aid dentists during oral procedures. Some states allow these workers to lead certain procedures, such as coronal polishing and fluoride application. While a lot of their work may be very technical, dental assistants can also oversee patient billing, payments, and scheduling.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accreditation for a Medical Assisting Degree Online Program

When considering where to earn your medical assistant associate degree online, make certain to only look at accredited institutions. Accredited schools must meet certain academic standards, such as having a robust curriculum that prepares students for future success. Completing an associate degree at an accredited college also makes it easier to transfer to a four-year program.

At the institutional level, schools carn earn regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation has been around for longer and is considered to be more prestigious; liberal arts colleges and universities typically hold this form of accreditation. Alternatively, for-profit and vocational/technical colleges are more likely to hold national accreditation.

Additionally, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) award specialized accreditation to medical assisting programs. Graduates of these programs can sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants certification exam. The certified medical assistant designation verifies a recipient's extensive knowledge of clerical, general, and administrative duties in the field. Employers frequently recruit individuals who hold this credential. Only graduates of CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited programs may take this exam.

Online Associate in Medical Assisting Scholarships

Scholarships can help pay for college and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Unlike like loans, scholarships do not have to be repaid, and you may be able to renew these awards throughout your enrollment. Every scholarship maintains its own eligibility criteria. The list below includes a few scholarships that can be used to help pay for online medical assistant associate degree programs.