Medical assistant training is available at many different types of schools. These include vocational high schools and junior and community colleges. A certificate medical assisting program may take a year or less, while an associate program at a medical assistant school usually takes two years to complete. Medical assistant training is also learned on the job, but to get many medical assisting jobs today completion of a certified medical assistant program is necessary.
The most important thing to consider when choosing medical assistant training options in the United States is to make sure the program is accredited and approved by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Training programs for aspiring medical assistants include preparation to take the certification exam. If you aren't American, look for a similar accrediting organization in your country if medical assistant certification rather than just on-the-job training is required.
Medical assistant certification allows medical assistants to be qualified for entry-level work. To receive certification, medical assistants may need to log 100 hours of related work experience. Most medical assistant training programs include this work placement in an externship as part of the program, so it's important to consider the exam work hour requirements and externship programs when choosing a medical assistant school.
A good way to help you get medical assistant training that will fit in with the medical clinics or doctor's offices in which you hope to work, is to conduct short informational interviews in those places. Ask the supervisor of the medical assistants which medical assistant schools he or she recommends and whether a certificate or associate program is preferred. Doing this will also give you a chance to meet potential employers in your area as networking with them could result in future employment after you complete medical assistant school.
You can also conduct informational interviews with medical assistant schools in your area or online to find out which ones have the qualities your potential employers are looking for. In keeping with the guidelines set by the AAMA, medical assistant training school programs should include classes in administrative functions as well as clinical and laboratory procedures. Administrative courses should include processing medical insurance and medical record keeping. Clinical and laboratory medical assistant training should include ethics, anatomy, working with clients, critical thinking, diagnostic procedures and medical law.