Most local community colleges, for profit private vocational training institutions, and major universities such as the University of Phoenix, University of Maryland, or Penn State offer medical assistant courses, diplomas and degrees on campus and via distance educations programs online. Online distance education programs in medical assisting are comprehensive in all areas, including general, administrative and clinical skills, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, clinical lab, transcription, bookkeeping, laws and ethics and typically end with an externship in a local facility that has partnered with the school.
Technical Schools, Colleges and Universities
When you visit community chat boards that focus on career development and vocational training you find that questions revolving around medical assistant training quickly take center stage. Many ask which are the best schools to earn their diploma and whether community colleges are better to earn a medical assistant diploma than aiming for a 2-year medical assisting degree from a university.
Some students believe that community colleges are better because they provide specific and organized knowledge based on a broader curriculum which is not available with short-term courses offered at a vocational-technical training institution. Contrarily, some think that technical schools are the better choice to get vocational training because they teach specific knowledge to get people back into the workforce fast when compared to community colleges. As far as the question whether a medical assistant diploma from a 9-11 month accelerated program is better than a 2-year degree, that depends mostly on the individual’s long term goals, since credits earned through an academic degree might later be applied toward a nursing, or highly technical healthcare degree.
A common question that typically arises is: Which type of school will provide me with the best opportunity to become gainfully employed in my field?
The answer may differ from person to person depending upon their individual expectations and goals. Some think that by joining a community college knowledge is definitely enhanced because of their extensive syllabus, hence, they envision increasing job opportunities and broader career paths. However, when you ask medical assistants directly whether an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting is better than a medical assistant diploma from a technical school the typical answer is that it doesn’t matter because a doctor doesn’t care about the degree, all they want to know is whether the applicant is a good fit for their office and can do the job. The pay will be the same.
One such conversation takes place on a well-known medical assistant web forum where a student from a community college states: “I am considered to be more “educated” since I had to take all of those extra classes and my credits are transferable to other colleges.” Another student responds: “I went to a local technical school to check out their medical assistant program, and when I spoke with the school’s adviser I felt like they were offering just as good of an education as the bigger universities. What mattered to me was whether I would find a job upon graduation, and fact is, doctors here in this area prefer to hire from colleges they know.”
Also, remember that there is a big difference between learning complex technical skills in a hands-on classroom setting versus via self-study distance education over the Internet.