Medical assistants play an integral role in improving the efficiency of hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices all over Pennsylvania. And while their significance isn’t determined by their certification, the National Healthcareer Association estimates that 81% of employers and institutions require or encourage certification. Becoming a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant shows potential employers you are a caring, responsible professional committed to your career. Before you earn your certification, however, you need to learn the ins and outs of the profession, and online medical assistant programs in PA can help you do just that.
We’ve created this guide for students in Pennsylvania like you who are looking to become certified medical assistants. Below we’ll show you snapshots of high-quality, local online medical assistant programs in PA, discuss the attributes of a good program, list the steps you need to take to become a certified medical assistant, answer some FAQs, and top it all off with salary expectations post-graduation.
An Inside Look at Popular Pennsylvania Programs
We’ve featured three medical assistant programs online in Pennsylvania in the section below that provide a high-quality online curriculum and have strong track records of preparing and empowering their graduates to embark on successful careers in medical assisting. While these are by no means ranked, they do help paint a picture of what you can expect from a top program.
Bloomsburg Commonwealth University
Online medical assistant programs in PA, like the one offered at Bloomsburg Commonwealth University, prepare students to work directly with patients and support other healthcare professionals. Bloomsburg’s 100% online program can be started at any time and prepares students to sit for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification. It is also supported by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Prospective students do not need to complete prerequisite courses to apply.
Bloomsburg, like several other universities in Pennsylvania, partners with ed2go to bring this training to students in an affordable manner — the total cost for the program is only $2,890. As they go through the program, students learn medical terminology (body systems, diagnostic procedures, nuclear medicine, pharmacology), medical office practices (telecommunication, computers, insurance, patient scheduling), and medical assisting procedures (vital sign monitoring, medication administration, diagnostic imaging procedures, minor office surgeries). Students are expected to complete the program in less than 12 months.
Community College of Philadelphia
The Community College of Philadelphia offers students a 27-credit Medical Assistant Proficiency Certificate that they can complete in as few as two semesters. This partially online medical assisting degree in Pennsylvania offers online learning for at least 25% of the required coursework. Course content includes basic knowledge of communication skills, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, laboratory procedures, administrative procedures, and patient care techniques. These content areas are presented in the classroom, practiced in the laboratory, and applied in a 6-week supervised practicum experience in an ambulatory setting.
Students wishing to enroll must be at least 18 years old by the time the practicum portion of the program begins and must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. If students have attended college classes previously, they are also required to have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Students can transfer all completed credits toward an associate degree in health care studies should they choose to continue their education. To earn the medical assistant proficiency certificate, students must receive a “C” grade or better in the required courses. Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for both a national medical assistant certification exam and a phlebotomy certification exam.
Penn Foster Community College
Penn Foster Community College provides students with either a diploma in medical assisting or an online associate degree in medical assisting. It takes around four semesters (roughly two years) to complete the associate degree and as few as 9 months to earn the diploma. Since both programs are self-paced, students can work as fast as they want and dedicate as much time as they have each week. Both programs are available entirely online and require an externship which students arrange with Penn State’s externship coordinator. Students can expect to learn about topics including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, clinical procedure theory, medical surgical procedures, and medical coding, to name a few. The total cost of the 60-credit associate degree program is roughly $5,800 ($99/credit). Students may choose from among multiple payment plans, which may affect the total cost.
The Ultimate Checklist for Online Medical Assistant Programs in PA
If you like checklists, then this section is for you. Now that you know what online medical assistant programs in Pennsylvania look like, we’ll dissect them and pull out the parts that make a program great. Keep these points in mind as you continue your search.
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in PA: The Next Right Step
You know how to get the ball rolling on your education, but where do you go from there? We’ve listed the most critical steps to certification and career success below to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible. Keep in mind that these are meant to be used as a general framework; you’ll likely need to adjust according to your unique situation and circumstances.
Online Medical Assistant Programs in PA: Your Questions Answered
Having additional questions is a good sign that you’re interested, so we’ve researched the most common questions about online medical assistant programs in Pennsylvania and answered them below. These questions address funding options, networking opportunities, curricula and prerequisites, and more.
Do online medical assistant programs in Pennsylvania have prerequisites?
Most medical assistant programs in Pennsylvania, online or otherwise, don’t require prerequisites, although some require students to be at least 18 years old. If you plan to take a certification exam, then you’ll also need a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to requiring students to be 18 by the start of the program and to hold a high school diploma, the Community College of Philadelphia requires students to demonstrate readiness for general education courses in English and math.
How can I network during my program, and does it matter?
Networking opens doors to job and mentorship opportunities both before and during your career. You can network in your online medical assistant program program by getting to know your classmates, professors, and the professionals you work with during your externship. Another way to network is by joining professional organizations and groups focused on the medical assisting industry, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Is it difficult to be accepted to Pennsylvania online medical assistant programs?
No. In fact, most medical assisting programs online in PA have few admission requirements given that they are designed to prepare you for entry level positions that require neither academic or professional experience in the field.. Some programs, like that at the Community College of Philadelphia, require students who have taken college courses prior to applying to demonstrate a minimum GPA of 2.0.
What funding is available for online medical assistant students in Pennsylvania?
The type of funding available to you depends on the program you choose to pursue. Several colleges in Pennsylvania partner with ed2go to administer their online medical assisting program. These programs have a set course cost that is not eligible for financial aid. However, you can always apply for private scholarships that are neither program- nor school-specific. If you attend an online medical assisting course in PA that’s administered by a school, then you may be eligible for scholarships and other government financial aid.
What is the average cost of an online medical assistant program in Pennsylvania?
As can be expected, costs vary between medical assisting programs. Schools that partner with ed2go for their medical assisting diplomas have students pay the company-set tuition, which typically hovers between $2,700 and $2,900 total. Schools that provide their own private medical assisting curriculum, like Penn Foster Community College, generally charge between $2,400 and $4,200. If you choose to pursue an associate degree in medical assisting, you can expect to pay more due to the greater number of credits required for graduation.
What subjects do medical assistant programs in Pennsylvania cover?
Since medical assistants wear so many hats at work, they need to be prepared with basic knowledge across several areas. Online medical assistant programs in Pennsylvania, therefore, cover subjects in medical billing and coding, the revenue cycle, communication, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology basics, CPR, outpatient procedures, medication administration, and rehabilitation and nutrition.
Salary Expectations and Career Prospects for Medical Assistants in PA
Once you graduate from your online medical assistant program in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to find a job that meets your needs in terms of location and salary. The tables below will show you that medical assisting is a high-growth career in Pennsylvania. In fact, it is estimated to grow 18.5% by 2030, slightly faster than the national growth rate of 18.4%.
However, just because job growth in Pennsylvania is high doesn’t mean that the salaries in every city are. The median pay for Pennsylvania-based medical assistants is $36,680 per year on average, with the lowest 10th percentile earning $29,650 and the highest 90th percentile earning up to $46,930. In Philadelphia, Chambersburg-Waynesboro, Lancaster, and Lebanon, medical assistants can make up to $47,000 annually, while those in Johnstown, East Stroudsburg, and Bloomsburg-Berwick make roughly $10,000 less.
Source: Projections Central
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics