How Long it Takes to Become a Medical Assistant
The amount of time it takes to become a medical assistant can vary depending on the program or education path you choose to take. Here are some common education paths for becoming a medical assistant and their typical time frames:
Certificate or Diploma Program
Certificate and diploma programs in medical assisting typically take anywhere from 9 months to 1 year to complete. These programs provide students with the essential knowledge and skills needed to work as a medical assistant, including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical office procedures, and clinical skills like taking vital signs and administering medications.
Some programs may also offer the option of part-time or online study, which can extend the length of time it takes to complete the program. Additionally, some programs may require students to complete an externship or clinical rotation in order to gain hands-on experience, which can add to the overall length of the program.
Associate’s Degree Program
An associate degree program in medical assisting typically takes two years to complete. These programs provide students with a more comprehensive education in medical assisting, as well as additional coursework in general education subjects like English, math, and social sciences.
An associate degree program in medical assisting may cover more advanced topics like pharmacology, medical coding and billing, medical law and ethics, and healthcare management. Additionally, students in an associate degree program may have more opportunities for hands-on clinical experience, which can prepare them for a wider range of medical assisting job duties.
Like certificate and diploma programs, associate degree programs may also require students to complete a clinical externship or other type of hands-on training. This can provide students with valuable experience working in a real-world medical setting, which can be helpful when seeking employment after graduation.
On the Job Training
The length of time it takes to become a medical assistant with on-the-job training can vary depending on the employer and the individual’s prior experience and education.
Medical assisting is one of the few healthcare professions that can be learned through on-the-job training, without the need for formal education. In these cases, the medical assistant will receive training from an experienced medical assistant or other healthcare professional on the job.
The length of time it takes to become a medical assistant with on-the-job training can vary depending on the employer and the individual’s prior experience and education. Some medical assistant training programs can take a few weeks to a few months to complete. However, on-the-job training can take longer than that, as it is usually more gradual and hands-on.
During on-the-job training, a new medical assistant may be responsible for basic tasks like checking patients in, taking vital signs, and maintaining patient records. As they gain more experience, they may take on more responsibilities and tasks, such as preparing patients for examinations, assisting with medical procedures, and administering medications.
It’s important to note that while on-the-job training can be a valuable way to gain experience as a medical assistant, it may not provide the same level of comprehensive education and training as a formal medical assisting program. Additionally, some employers may require a certificate or diploma in medical assisting as a condition of employment.