MA programs are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in this field. These courses adhere to the med assistant curriculum to make sure that you learn everything you need to know, and can become certified.
In this guide, we will explore the different components of the medical assistant curriculum, including the required courses, hands-on training, and certification exam preparation.
Medical Assistant Courses & Curriculum
The medical assistant curriculum typically consists of a combination of classroom lectures, laboratory exercises, and clinical experience. These components are designed to provide students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for a career as a medical assistant.
Whatever medical assistant program you choose, there will be some courses that are mandatory. There will also be some medical assisting courses that are elective. This allows you to tailor the medical assisting program to suit your own personal preferences and goals.
The practicum or externship stage of your chosen program usually takes place after or alongside your medical assistant classes. As with most allied health education programs, it’s designed to give you hands-on experience in the field.
During this stage of your medical assistant program, you’ll carry out laboratory work as well as administrative and clinical tasks.
Once the classroom and practical stages of your program are completed, you’ll move on to taking the exam. This allows you to become either a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) or a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA).
The difference between the two types of Certified Medical Assistants is that a CCMA receives more training around clinical procedures whereas a CMAA is only trained to perform administrative duties.
Anatomy and Physiology:
As part of your medical assistant program, you’ll be required to study anatomy and physiology. By doing so, prospective medical assistants gain knowledge of the functions and structures of the different parts and organs within the human body.
This knowledge is vital within medical assisting as it helps you to understand how diseases are caused and why certain procedures are required. It also helps to develop your awareness of biology which is another important facet of medical assisting.
Medical terminology is a language that’s used by healthcare professionals. It refers to all aspects of the human body that relate to healthcare. This includes things like the diagnosis of conditions, treatments, procedures, and conditions themselves.
Medical assistants need to have a thorough understanding of medical terminology to enable them to communicate with patients and healthcare professionals. One of your key roles as a medical assistant is to record vital signs and other patient information which is done using medical terminology.
This is why every medical assistant program includes this as a required course.
Medical Law and Ethics:
The program will also include a course on medical law and ethics. The purpose of this course is to teach you all about the responsibilities of certified medical assistants.
Prospective medical assistants learn about patient confidentiality, patient rights, licensure, registration, and HIPAA. By the end of this part of the medical assisting program, you’ll know everything you need to know about the policies and laws that govern healthcare facilities.
Medical assistants are required to learn about pharmacology as it’s a vital part of their role. Pharmacology deals with drugs, medications, and their properties. As part of your medical assistant program, you’ll learn about the nature of different medications, their uses, and their side effects.
You’ll also be taught how to determine the correct dosage methods and drug therapies.
Medical Office Procedures:
The medical office procedures course instructs you on your administrative duties as a medical assistant. During this stage of your med assisting program, you’ll cover tasks such as billing procedures, scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and answering calls and emails.
All medical assistant programs will also introduce you to two different administrative systems. These are the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems.
Elective Courses in Medical Assistant Curriculum
At the start of your MA program, you’ll be able to choose phlebotomy as one of your optional courses. Phlebotomy involves taking blood from a patient with a needle which is then used for diagnostic purposes. As a prospective medical assistant, you’ll be trained to perform venipuncture to collect blood, and then send it for testing.
You’ll also be trained to restore hemostasis with post-puncture care once the blood has been drawn. As phlebotomy is one of the most common clinical procedures that medical assistants perform, it’s highly recommended that you choose to take this course.
However, if you’re planning to work in a purely administrative role, then this course won’t be necessary.
You can also be trained to use EKG technology during your medical assistant program. EKG technology is used to record the results of electrocardiography. This is a process that detects the electrical activity of the heart. It’s used in all manner of healthcare facilities such as clinics and hospitals.
This course teaches medical assistants to administer EKG exams and how to analyze the resulting data about the electrical functions of the heart. You’ll learn how to monitor EKG tests, maintain and operate EKG machines, and much more.
Medical Billing and Coding:
As a medical assistant, you’ll be dealing with administrative tasks as well as clinical ones. So, it’s important that you’re trained to perform medical billing and coding as they’re important parts of medical assisting.
During the course, you’ll learn how to receive reimbursement through coding and billing. Other topics covered will include insurance protocols, CPT and ICD-10-CM coding systems, payment procedures, and regulations. Prospective medical assistants will also learn about submitting medical claims and using appropriate medical codes.
Transcription is another important task related to the administrative side of the medical assistant role. You’ll be taught to transcribe medical reports from voice recordings and various forms of spoken notes. The course will teach you to use different types of software and transcribing equipment to do this.
As a medical assistant, it’s crucial that you’re able to transcribe medical reports with correct spellings, vocabulary, formatting, and medical terminology.
During your hands-on training, you’ll learn and will practice essential clinical skills that you’ll utilize in your career as a medical assistant. The clinical skills could include:
- Wound care which includes cauterizations and irrigations
- Collecting specimens for laboratory tests
- Checking for vitals
- Administering treatments such as injections
Another stage of your medical assisting program will involve learning about diagnostic laboratory procedures. This is where the diagnosis of a specimen is determined in a medical facility. Diagnostic procedures are used to examine body fluid specimens such as blood in a laboratory.
The laboratory skills course educates prospective medical assistants about collecting samples, administering hematology, urine analysis, and pregnancy tests.
This course is most useful for students who are planning to become Certified Medical Administrative Assistants. It will give you more in-depth knowledge of the administrative tasks involved in medical assisting than you would gain from just taking the required courses.
During this medical assisting course, you’ll expand your understanding of:
- Medical assisting computer software
- Managing patient records
- Phone management
- Purchasing – medical supplies and equipment
- Scheduling and appointment setting
- Organizational skills
Certification Exam Preparation
Review classes are an excellent way for you to refresh your knowledge before you take the medical assistant exam. Your instructors can answer any final questions you have and make sure that you fully understand the concepts that are going to be tested during the exam.
Not all medical programs offer review classes but they are very common. If your medical assistant program doesn’t have review classes then it’s definitely worth finding an external body that does.
Practice exams are one of the best ways for prospective medical assistants to prepare for their exams. These exams feature questions that are very similar to the ones that’ll be on your real exam paper. You’ll also usually have a similar amount of time to complete practice exams as you would have for the full exam.
These tests are marked and you’re given your grade. Your instructors can then go through your practice exam results with you to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are. This allows you to spend time studying the areas that need the most work to make sure that you pass the exam.
As well as review classes and practice exams, there are many other strategies you can utilize to make sure you pass your medical assistant exam. These include:
- Knowing the topics: the AAMA website has all the details about what you can expect from the Certified Medical Assistant exam. This is one of the tools you can use to make sure you’re fully aware of the topics that are likely to be on the test.
- Identifying weak points: when you examine the topics that will be on the exam, make a note next to the ones that you feel the least confident about. You can then spend extra time revising these topics.
- Scheduling study time: set aside dedicated studying time and make sure that you stick to it. During this time, remove any distractions and ask that your friends and family leave you to your studies.
- Avoid cramming: give yourself plenty of time before your exam to revise and go over your weak points. Don’t leave it too late and then try and cram right before the exam.
- Study multiple choice strategies: spend some time learning about multiple choice strategies online. These strategies are different to the ones you would use in a non-multiple choice exam.
Is it best to take a medical assistant program accredited by a certifying organization?
Yes, it’s usually best to take a medical assistant program that’s accredited by a board such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). This ensures that you’ll learn everything you need to know to pass the CMA exam.
It also means that the education you receive will be high-quality and that the program is respected in the field.
How much does a medical assistant program cost?
The cost of your medical assistant program will vary widely depending on the school you go to and the type of program that you choose. Typically, the cost ranges from around $2,500 all the way up to $20,000.
The medical assistant curriculum is designed to give you all the skills and knowledge you need to be a successful medical assistant. Medical assistant programs combine classroom learning with hands-on experience to give you the most rounded education possible.
Although becoming certified isn’t necessary to work as a medical assistant, most employers are reluctant to hire medical assistants without it. This is why it’s always recommended that you obtain a formal education and gain certification. It means you’re more likely to find an excellent job and have a successful career.