If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a medical administrative assistant, you’ll need the proper training. With so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start.
You need to explore everything you need to know about choosing the right medical administrative assistant school, including what to look for in a training program and how to evaluate your options.
Types of Medical Administrative Assistant Training Programs
There are several medical assistant programs that focus on other aspects of medical assisting and do not cover healthcare administration.
That being said, there are general medical assistant programs that cover enough administration for students to take the national certified medical administrative assistant exam.
Prospective medical administrative assistants should ideally find a program designed for careers in a healthcare facility/medical office management
Diploma and Certificate Programs
Medical administrative assistant diploma and certificate programs provide a basic foundation for students to start a new career as medical administrative assistants. They provide all the necessary education and training needed to work in entry-level positions in a medical office or hospital setting.
Taking a diploma or certificate program will also prepare students to take the certified medical administrative assistants exam. Some programs cover the cost of the certification exam in their tuition and even provide exam-specific preparation courses.
These programs vary and can take 6-12 months to complete.
Associate’s Degree & Bachelor’s Degree Programs
There is also the option for prospective medical administrative assistants to get a two-year associate’s degree.
These programs go beyond the basic concepts and training covered in a certificate/diploma program and provide more in-depth medical administrative assistant training. Additionally, students will take general math, writing, and humanities classes to earn the degree.
Holding an associate degree in medical administration provides a better job outlook and opens up the potential to earn more. It also allows medical administrative students to specialize and work in a specialist’s medical office.
If students would like to have the future opportunity to expand their education, it is advisable for them to take the associate degree program. This is because the credits gained from it can be used to pursue a full four year bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration.
Having a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration offers the most career growth and allows students to work in healthcare management.
The primary role of a healthcare manager is to coordinate services and finances between healthcare facilities. There is the potential for medical assistants to run entire departments within medical facilities or run entire healthcare facilities once they have enough experience.
Online Programs & Hybrid Programs
Many certificate/diploma programs are largely based online and are self-paced. Some institutions offer a hybrid option. This is where theory is taught through online courses and clinical training takes place in person via an externship.
Students are also able to take the two-year degree programs online or via the hybrid method. For an administrative medical assistant looking into continuing education, having the ability to study online might be appealing if they want to keep working while studying.
How to Choose a Medical Administrative Assistant School?
When choosing a school to take a medical administrative assistant program at, there are a few aspects to consider.
An accredited school is a learning institution that is verified by a national association. This means that the programs are regularly evaluated to ensure that they are of a high standard of education.
Holding a certification from an accredited school looks excellent on a resume and can improve one’s job outlook.
The 2 main accrediting associations in the healthcare field are:
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
The certified medical administrative assistant exam is accredited by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
To work as a medical administrative assistant, students need to choose a program that focuses on the administrative duties of a medical assistant in addition to the standard patient care skills needed to work in medical practices.
Specific topics to look for in a medical administrative assistant curriculum are:
- medical coding & electronic health records
- electronic medical records & documentation procedures
- medical billing & insurance processing
- scheduling & office management
Faculty & Staff
To get the best education possible, it is beneficial to be taught by industry professionals with ample amounts of experience in the administrative healthcare environment.
Many programs are headed by professionals who have made the transition into teaching medical administrative assistant courses. Information on instructors can be easily found on medical assisting program web pages.
Some programs offer clinical hours via externship. Students who opt to take an externship will be placed into a medical practice or another healthcare facility. There, they will get experience working with medical documents, scheduling appointments, patient intake, billing, insurance processing, etc.
Most schools offer some sort of financial aid but it depends on if the specific program qualifies for it. Funding usually comes from a federal, state, or institutional level.
The funding may be a grant or scholarship which doesn’t require repayment. It could also be a student loan which will need to be paid back in installments after graduating.
It is recommended that you contact the specific school’s financial aid department to find out more.
Some programs offer career services that help place graduates into the medical assistant industry so they can have a good start to their healthcare careers.
Medical Administrative Assistant Training Course Curriculum
Although all MAA programs will vary slightly, there are some core topics that each one will cover.
Knowledge of surgical and medical terminology is essential for the billing and insurance claims part of an MAA’s job. Each illness, injury, and condition, as well as the corresponding treatment, has a code that will need to be memorized to bill patients and insurance companies.
To help students acquire this specialized knowledge, MAA programs usually have at least one class dedicated to medical terminology and one to physiology and anatomy.
As mentioned above, being an efficient medical coder and knowing the correct medical codes is important for the billing and payment procedures used in healthcare.
Additionally, students will learn how to manage electronic health records. They have their own set of codes and terms in addition to the ones used in medical billing.
MAA programs generally have more than one class dedicated to learning and mastering the codes.
Insurance and Billing Procedures
In addition to drafting patient care bills, students will need to know how to differentiate between different insurance policies so they can submit the correct documents to the insurance companies for payment. There is federal, state, and private coverage available and each one operates differently.
If students are interested, there is the option to take their studies further and become an insurance claims specialist
Communication and Customer Service
Dealing with patients is a very large part of being an MAA. Students will learn different procedures to do with scheduling appointments, patient intake, and specialist referrals. Many externships offer students the chance to gain vocational education in this area.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the medical assistant profession is one of the fastest-growing sectors of employment, making it a very appealing healthcare industry career choice.
Medical administrative assistants are vital for the efficient running of any healthcare setting. Their specialized skills and knowledge of administration ensure that the backend of patient care is streamlined and operates optimally.
To have a successful career as a medical office assistant, prospective students need to consider two things when choosing a medical administrative assistant program.
- They will need to find a program that will teach them the relevant information and skills suited to a medical office environment.
- They will need to choose a program that will prepare them to take the certified medical administrative assistant exam.
In addition to choosing the right program that will help students become certified medical administrative assistants, it is encouraged that they attend a reputable school that is accredited by a national healthcare association.
What types of training programs are available for Medical Administrative Assistants?
There are a few different types of programs. There is the option to take a 3-12 month-long medical administrative assistant certificate/diploma training program. There is also the option to take a 2-year associate’s degree in medical administration.
What should I look for when choosing a Medical Administrative Assistant school?
It is advisable to find a medical administrative assistant program that will prepare you to take the national certified medical administrative assistant exam.
How long does it take to complete a Medical Administrative Assistant training program?
A certificate/diploma medical administrative assistant program is the shortest option. They range anywhere between 3 to 12 months. They are often self-paced and online which allows a student to take them full or part-time.
Can I get financial aid for Medical Administrative Assistant programs?
Most medical administrative assistant schools offer some kind of funding. Funding comes from a federal, state, and institutional level. Talk to the financial aid office of your chosen school to find out which you qualify for.