If you’re interested in becoming a medical assistant, or already on your way, here’s some good news. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical assistants in the U.S. are expected to grow at four times the rate of the national average for all careers. For most medical assistant jobs today, you’re going to need a college education, whether you enroll in a traditional program or one of the increasingly popular online medical assistant programs now available from accredited schools.
Regardless of the credential type or study format you choose, successfully completing a medical assistant program will likely require some outside help – from your school, your peers, professional groups, and other sources. And that need for support continues once you’ve earned your credential and set out to launch your career. We’ve put together this guide to help you locate the best school and online resources to support you at all points along your medical assisting education and career path. Keep reading to see where you can turn to for quality help as a medical assistant student.
Medical Assistant Student Support Centers and Services
Your first stop for help on your medical assistant education and career path should be your school. And that’s the case whether you’re just beginning your medical assistant program search, needing help with coursework, looking for student housing, or finishing up your program and seeking your first medical assistant job. On some campuses, student support services are housed together in a single office. Other schools spread out their services in separate campus locations. And almost all schools provide information about their support services on their websites. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with your school’s student support services as soon as possible. Remember, supporting your success is what they’re there for.
The following three colleges offer noteworthy support service packages to their medical assistant students. We’ve spotlighted them to give you an idea of what you might expect to find at your school.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers its Medical Assistant Technical Diploma program in three-semester, full-time and five-semester, part-time formats on both its Green Bay and Marinette campuses. To support its medical assistant students, NWTC provides a substantial package of resources, including academic and financial coaching, career and personal counseling, help finding and paying for housing, food assistance and student emergency funding, and more. The Student Support Services department also sponsors events such as scholarship workshops and its Money Smart Week. Students can also join the school’s Medical Assistants Club. Detailed information on these resources can be found on the Student Support Services and Student Experience webpages.
Sinclair College’s Medical Assistant Technology department offers programs for both a two-year AAS in Medical Assistant Technology and a one-year Medical Assistant Technical Certificate on its Dayton, Ohio campus. Information on the numerous student academic, career, financial, and personal resources can be found using the search engine on the college’s The Welcome Center webpage. In addition, Sinclair students with demonstrated academic need who meet certain other pre-requisites can access a full-range of supplemental support resources (counseling, mentoring, tutoring, etc.) through the federally-funded TRIO Student Support Services program. Medical assistant students are also invited to participate in the campus-sponsored chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Southwestern Community College
Southwestern Community College offers both Medical Assistant AAS and Certificate programs on its main campus in Sylva, North Carolina. Students in these programs can take advantage of the college’s substantial support resources, a list of which can be found at the bottom of the SCC website’s home page. Resources of note include career coaching and employment services, in-house and online tutoring, help finding off-campus housing, and much more. Southwestern is home to a TRIO Student Support Services program where medical assistant students with a demonstrated need for academic support can get additional help in meeting their academic and career goals.
Resources for Online Medical Assistant Students
The continued growth of quality distance education programs at the college level has carried over to the medical assisting field. Today, students have access to medical assistant degrees, diplomas, and certificates through fully-online and partially-online formatted programs. For many students, pursuing a medical assistant credential online will be their first venture into the virtual learning environment, bringing with it its own challenges. Fortunately, the increasing popularity of online education has brought with it a wealth of helpful resources for online students. Below are six resources that support current and prospective medical assistant students in making a successful transition to online learning, finding ways to pay for school, and preparing for professional certification.
- The Best Online Medical Assistant Schools & Programs in 2020
The first step in earning your online medical assistant credential is finding the right online program. This EduMed guide is designed to help you do just that, starting with a list of the best online medical assistant programs for 2020. You’ll also find information on the types of online programs available, what you can expect to learn in your program, financing you program, and more.
- Online Certification for Medical Assistants
This EduMed guide offers detailed information on the process for obtaining the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification, as well as a survey of the numerous specialty professional certifications available to medical assistants.
- Online Medical Assistant Programs with Financial Aid
This EduMed guide focuses specifically on those online medical assistant programs that offer financial aid (scholarships, grants, etc.) to help students pay for their educations. Readers will also find useful information on additional program funding sources.
- NIH National Library of Medicine
This National Institutes of Health website provides access to a vast wealth of high-quality resources (studies, data, literature, etc.) that online medical assistant students can use for completing course assignments and medical assistant professionals can refer to throughout the course of their career.
- Tips for Online Medical Assistant Students
Brief but informative article packed with useful advice for making the most of your online medical assistant academic experience. Written for students in the Allen School of Health Sciences online medical assistant program, but you don’t have to be an Allen student to benefit from these tips.
- Transitioning to Online School: A Guide for Healthcare Students
The simple truth is that there really are a lot of differences between online and traditional on-campus college programs. This EduMed guide offers great information and tips aimed at helping students new to distance education make a smooth, successful transition to the online learning environment.
Medical Assisting Professional Associations
One of the best things any student can do to successfully prepare themselves for the professional world is to join one or more student organizations or professional associations. Membership can unlock excellent learning and networking opportunities which can lead to valuable career advancement opportunities. Below are six professional groups that all medical assistants should get to know.
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
The AAMA is the preeminent professional association of medical assistants in the U.S. The AAMA offers a wide range of services, including education, certification and advocacy services to medical assistant professionals and students.
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
The AMT sponsors a number of medical technology related professional credentials, including the Medical Assistant (RMA) certification. Once a credential is earned, holders can become paid members of the AMT and access a variety of exclusive member benefits, including career development tools, online and in-person networking opportunities, and more.
- American Registry of Medical Assistants (ARMA)
The nonprofit American Registry of Medical Assistants is a national registry of medical assistants employed throughout the U.S., as well as medics and corpsmen working in military clinics and hospitals. ARMA members can access a number of resources, including continuing education courses, job postings, and organization events.
- American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA)
The ASPMA is dedicated to the advancement of the podiatric medical assistant profession. The ASPMA sponsors the Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified credential, as well as scholarship opportunities for medical assistant students, educational services, and organization events and conferences.
- California Society of Medical Assistants (CSMA)
Many states, including California, have their own AAMA-affiliated professional associations. The CSMA acts as a major continuing education, information, and networking resource for California CMAs.
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
The National Healthcareer Association is committed to the advancement of and advocating for frontline healthcare workers, including medical assistants. The NHA currently sponsors three medical assistant professional credentials: Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), Phlebotomy Technician (CPT), and EKG Technician (CET).
Online Communities and Networking Sites for Medical Assistants
Online communities and networking sites offer medical assistants a great place to interact with their peers where they can offer and receive professional advice, exchange leads on job and other career opportunities, or simply get to know each other and socialize. Here are six of the most popular online communities and networking sites bringing together medical assistants and other like-minded individuals:
- Certified Medical Assistant Discussion LinkedIn Group
Sponsored by the AAMA, this LinkedIn discussion board connects over 1,800 CMA members from all over the nation. You’ll need to join the group to access the board’s contents.
- Medical Assistant Network Facebook Group
The name of this Facebook group says it all. This is a private group, so you’ll have to join the more than 6,000 current members to access and participate in group discussions.
- Medical Assistants with Experience Network Group
With over 14,000 members, this group claims to be the largest Facebook community in the U.S. Membership in the group is required, however, to view, post, and comment.
- Phlebotomy/Medical Assistant Job Search Community Facebook Group
The purpose of this 12,000+ member public Facebook group is to provide a place to post notices of current job openings and job leads for phlebotomy and medical assistant positions.
- r/medicalassistant Subreddit
An active subreddit with around 2,500 members, much of the discussion here revolves around school and the taking and passing of certification exams – but current medical assistants will also find a lot to talk about.
- r/medicalassistants Subreddit
This small subreddit is open to all professionals in the broader allied health field, but with a definite emphasis on medical assistants. Visitors will find several discussions related to medical assistant certification exam tips and job advice.
Medical Assisting Blogs, Magazines, Podcasts, and Videos
Online networks and communities are not the only virtual sources of information for medical assistant students and professionals. There are plenty of other online media resources – books, magazines, podcasts, etc. – providing the most current information and advice for medical assistants. And the majority of these resources can be accessed free-of-charge. Here are six examples:
- Medical Assistant Virtual Open House YouTube Video
Presented by Nebraska Medicine as a recruiting tool for the Nebraska Medical Center, this virtual open house provides all viewers with a detailed look at what it’s like to work as a medical assistant for a large healthcare organization.
- CMA Today
CMA Today is the flagship magazine of the American Association of Medical Assistants. This bi-monthly magazine is designed to keep students and practitioners up-to-date on the latest issues affecting the medical assistant field. The magazine requires a paid subscription to non-AMAA members, but anyone can visit the magazine’s site to access the AAMA e-Update free monthly e-newsletter.
- 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Medical Assisting
Excellent article from “The Rounds”, EduMed’s blog for healthcare students and professionals. Medical assistants will also want to check out Medical Assisting 101: Reporting Lab Work to Patients.
- Inside Medical Assisting Podcast
Podcast series with dozens of episodes featuring interviews and discussions concerning the day-to-day medical assisting practice. Episode titles include “The #1 Skill Medical Assistants Need!”, “The Value of the Medical Assistant VS Nurse in a Medical Practice”, and “Wisdom of a frontline Healthcare Manager”.
- Legal Eye on Medical Assisting Blog
Another great offering from the AAMA, this blog focuses on issues directly and indirectly related to legal aspects of the medical assisting profession. Visitors are invited to post questions and responses to entries in categories such as Education, On the Job, and Scope of Practice.
- Rasmussen College Medical Assisting Blog
This blog from Rasmussen College currently offers over 30 entries on topics aimed primarily at individuals considering a medical assistant career. Entry titles include, “Certified Medical Assistant: Promising Career of the Future”, “Physician Assistant vs. Medical Assistant: How are they Different?”, and “What to Expect in Your Medical Assistant Internship”.