When discussing medical assistant training options the conversation should include various types of medical assistant schools and the type of training they provide, including the value of their certificates and diplomas, degrees, externship, practicum, qualifications of their instructors and type of teaching methods provided. Explore whether you will learn in a clinical lab, computer lab and work in groups. Everyone else should explore available schools within their area and make a decision based on the information they provide. Other forms of medical assistant training are often available, including direct on the job training or state and regional vocational training that is provided completely free to those who qualify.

Training to Become a Medical Assistant

[sociallocker]Most community colleges and various other vocational training institutions and online schools provide medical assistant training programs that meet many different needs trough. Classes can be given as morning classes, afternoon, or evening classes. Medical assistant programs are relatively short and in many cases low in cost, especially for those who qualify for scholarships and student loans, or are enrolled in state or regional programs through work force rehab or unemployment benefits. Those who qualify for government funded vocational rehab programs, educational grants, or are hired to be trained directly on the job get their medical assistant training completely free.

Formal Medical Assistant Training Options

The medical assistant in a very small family practice may be trained directly on the job by the doctor to handle everything that comes along in the front and back office. In larger offices you often find an entire team of expertly trained medical assistants working as a team, some in the reception and administrative areas of the facility, others on the clinical floors and laboratory areas in the back. Prospective medical assistant students often ask: “Is it better to have a medical assistant degree or is a medical assistant diploma good enough?” Reality is, most doctors and practicing healthcare providers don’t care whether their medical assistant has a degree or diploma. Their main concern is to have a medical assistant that can do the job and pay them only as much as they have to in wages to keep them on board.


Unfortunately the present job market is becoming flooded with medical assistants who have received their training exclusively on the job and many are no longer interested in seeking, or offering direct on the job training, but rather, new generations of medical assistants now enroll into medical assistant training programs from well recognized schools that are established within their community and recognized by potential employers who are then willing to hire them based on their grades and the reputation of the school.

College, vocational training program or on the job training, which is the better training strategy for future medical assistants?

Medical assistant training programs and other learning sources are widely available. They can vary significantly in outcome and in length, depending on the type of program. One effective strategy to boost your chances on today’s job market is to enroll into a program from a good school. Graduating from a training program that is well established, organized and recognized within the community puts you into a better position, because doctors and recruiters recognize and respect the school you attended. Traditionally, there are three types of formal programs:

  • two-years at a junior, or community college
  • 9-12 month accelerated vocational training program
  • thirdly, medical assistants with high school diploma trained right on the job[/sociallocker]
    The two-year program at a junior or community college leads to an Associate’s (A.A.S.) degree in Medical Assisting. The 9-12 month long highly focused medical assistant program at a vocational training institution leads to a medical assistant diploma often followed by an externship and certification exam, and the on the job training simply leads to having the title of a medical assistant.

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