The early bird gets the worm. Or in your case, the job. The faster you earn your medical assistant certificate or degree, the faster you can pass your exams and get hired by a hospital or physician’s office. But how fast is too fast for a degree? The fastest online medical assistant programs claim you can finish them in six weeks, but most accelerated programs with proper regional accreditation take between 6 months and two years to complete. Here we take a look at today’s fast-track medical assistant programs offered via distance learning and investigate whether or not their quick timelines could mean lower quality education.
The 6 Week Medical Assistant Program Online
Owing to the unique blend of administrative and clinical responsibilities performed by medical assistants, six-week programs are incredibly rare. The best online medical assistant programs cover essential topics spanning human anatomy to medical records management. Additionally, stand-out programs typically require you to spend many hours completing both clinical requirements and an internship in a professional medical environment.
You may find the occasional program advertising a medical assistant degree online in 6 weeks, but be mindful that some schools prioritize quick profits over quality education and career training. Make sure you do your research, talk to admissions counselors, and check for the program’s accreditation. Remember, if a program isn’t accredited you may not be able to sit for certification exams.
Consider your academic and professional needs before you commit to a program offering a medical assistant degree online in 6 weeks. If you want to start a medical assistant job quickly, a short, less-intensive program may be the best fit. Conversely, if this is just the start of your medical career, a program offering transferrable college credits could be a better fit.
We spotlight four online medical assistant programs below with completion timelines that span from 11 weeks to 18 months. Continue reading to see which type of program works best for you.
CareerStep: The 4-Month Medical Assistant Program
CareerStep’s online medical assistant program offers a flexible and accessible career training program that you can complete in just four months. Focusing on patient care and routine office procedures, students gain the practical knowledge they need to enter the medical field. Besides online coursework, you’ll earn 100 hours of hands-on experience in a clinical setting, all while preparing for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) examination.
Throughout CareerStep’s four-month program, you’ll complete nearly 500 hours of online training. Delivered asynchronously, you can meet your course requirements any time, and in any place. Classes use an intuitive learning framework that includes videos, training games, and interactive training simulations.
In addition to online coursework, students also complete a 100-hour clinical externship at an approved medical setting. This hands-on training offers the opportunity to gain clinical experience in a safe, supervised environment. The externship also acts as a practical introduction to administrative tasks in a medical office, including scheduling, medical records management, and medical ethics.
The CareerStep program prepares you for multiple medical assistant certifications, from CCMA exam prep to phlebotomy technician certification. Some of the program’s major strengths include:
Herzing University’s 8-Month Medical Assisting Diploma
A private institution based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Herzing University offers a 100% online medical assisting program. In addition to this short-term diploma track, students can also earn associate and bachelor’s degrees through the school. Herzing’s Everywhere Classroom allows you to complete coursework wherever and whenever fits your needs. Plus, students choose between full-time and part-time classes for maximum flexibility.
Full-time students complete this online medical assisting diploma’s 24 credits in just eight months. The program is accredited by both the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Required core courses include medical terminology, administrative skills for the medical office, and introduction to anatomy and physiology.
In addition to online courses, this program requires in-person clinical experiences. Over eight months, you’ll finish two hands-on medical assisting classes and an externship. Completed at a convenient, approved medical setting, your externship involves 180 hours of experiential learning at a medical clinic or doctor’s office.
This online medical assisting track also includes preparation for your CCMA exam; the cost of your first exam is included in your tuition. Prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, applicants must meet and interview with an admissions advisor. Standout aspects of the program include:
Camelot College’s 11-Week Medical Assistant Program Online
Founded in 1986, Camelot College offers medical education and career training through programs such as their online medical assistant, cosmetology, and nurse aide training courses. Designed to provide flexible, affordable, and accessible career training, Camelot provides students with essential classroom knowledge while utilizing the school’s relationships in the medical and business industries in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area.
Along with providing practical medical assistant training, Camelot prioritizes job placement. Camelot College is recognized as an accredited business through the South Central Better Business Bureau.
Offering two medical assistant training programs, students choose between Camelot’s administrative medical assistant and advanced medical assistant tracks. The administrative medical assistant training is delivered 100% online and introduces the skills essential to the day-to-day work that comprises the position. This 11-week program covers critical topics such as electronic medical records systems, telecommunications, and legal and ethical issues in the medical field.
Priced at around $5,000 for the 11-week program, students can quickly gain the skills they need to begin their careers in the medical field. Prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED and complete an administrative interview before admission. Differentiators for this program include:
Purdue University’s 18-Month Medical Assistant Certificate
With its home base in Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University takes a holistic approach to its medical assistant program, with students encountering clinical and laboratory work alongside medical office procedures. Taught by experienced healthcare professionals, students complete classes online and gain hands-on experiences in professional settings. You can complete Purdue’s online medical assistant certificate program in just 18 months.
Online classes cover a variety of essential topics involving medical office and clinical responsibilities. Core classes include diseases of the human body, medical office management, and professionalism in healthcare. In addition to completing two sections of a clinical competencies class, you’ll also tackle 50 hours of clinical training at an approved medical facility.
Before graduation, you’ll complete a 160-hour medical assisting externship. Once you finish Purdue’s medical assistant certificate track, you can sit for various certification exams, including Registered Medical Assistant, National Certified Medical Assistant, and Clinical Medical Assistant Certification.
The medical assistant certificate program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. As an accredited program, credits earned for this certificate may apply to a bachelor’s degree in the future. As you compare programs, keep these components in mind:
Accreditation for Online Medical Assisting Programs
Even though completing a nonaccredited medical assisting program won’t necessarily prevent you from getting hired as a medical assistant, the best online programs boast accreditation. Additionally, professional certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) requires that you graduate from an accredited program. Alongside a solid resume and work experience, professional certification can boost your career options and increase your salary.
The primary accrediting bodies for online medical assisting programs include the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). In offering their stamp of approval to stand-out programs, these organizations consider student outcomes, graduation rates, curricula, and program administration, among other factors.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes ABHES programmatic accreditation for medical assistants, medical laboratory technicians, and surgical technology programs. Additionally, the CAAHEP is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Accredited programs offer clinical and academic training in various areas, including diagnostic procedures, medication administration, and medical law and ethics. Additionally, students get practical training in computer applications, office practices, record-keeping, and accounting. Upon program completion, graduates can sit for the AAMA’s certified medical assistant exam.