Getting Started Healthcare

How to Find a Great Medical Assistant Certification Program

Written by Miranda Pennington

Are you friendly, informative, and courteous? Can you be patient-oriented even in a high-stress atmosphere? Are you able to be on your feet, performing administrative tasks, taking vitals, completing medical histories and undertaking other clinical work? Then medical assisting might be a great career to consider.

What do you need to know before picking out the right medical assistant program for you? Jack Billings over at MyCareertopia has some advice for aspiring medical assistants on great questions to ask when selecting a program of study.

Is financial aid available?

This is a terrific question for anyone going to (or back to) school to ask. With the growth the field is currently experiencing, you should be seriously skeptical about any program that doesn’t offer you any kind of financial assistance to take their classes. Give the school a call if you can’t find easy access to it on the website.

How long is the program?

Depending on your level of flexibility, time and $-wise, the time it takes to complete a program may vary. Usually they’ll take a year, or closer to two years if it’s an associate degree program, as well.

What does the curriculum contain?

While every program may title its courses slightly differently, you’re looking for hands-on training, classroom and lecture-based classes, and disciplines such as pharmacology, human anatomy, physiology, medical law and ethics, medical terminology, cording and billing practices, lab techniques, diagnostics, and computer application training. Any school that promises to prepare you without offering these basics isn’t doing serious business.

Is there a practicum or clinical externship?

A medical assistant program worth your time will offer you a chance to gain on the job experience. You’ll have an opportunity to spend 3-6 weeks in a hands-on workplace, bringing your training into the real world and helping you make important professional relationships.

Is there a Career Services department?

You’ll want to know going in that after you graduate, there will be support for your growing career. Find out what kind of services the office provides, how big the department is, and if you can talk with a staff member as an incoming student.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.