Medical assistants play a vital role in an allied healthcare team. They provide critical, often unsung, support in both patient care and office management. Whether you’re interested in dermatology or obstetrics, there is a medical facility that can benefit from having you as a medical assistant.
Becoming a medical assistant can provide a fulfilling career in and of itself or serve as a steppingstone to other healthcare careers. Working as a medical assistant is a great way to gain the experience many nursing, physician assistant, and other medical programs require for admission. And it all starts with the right online medical assistant program. If, like many students, you have personal and professional obligations, you’ll be glad to know that these online programs are designed with you and your needs in mind, making it possible for you to earn your certificate on your time.
Keep reading for an inside look at some of the most popular programs in Tennessee, a breakdown of what makes a program worth attending, the steps you need to take to launch your career, and so much more.
An Inside Look at Popular Tennessee Programs
South College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and the University of Tennessee-Martin are just three of the many online medical assistant programs available in Tennessee today. We’ve highlighted them for their flexibility, affordability, and overall quality. Get a feel for what top programs have to offer by reading our profiles on these schools below.
South College is a well-respected institution with physical campuses throughout the United States, including Tennessee. At South College, prospective students can choose to pursue a nine-month Certificate in Medical Assisting or an Associate of Science in Medical Assisting, according to their goals, availability, and needs. Both tracks utilize online coursework in combination with real-world practicums and on-campus laboratories to help students gain the knowledge and skills they need to perform administrative and clinical tasks in medical offices and clinics.
Admissions to the medical assistant certificate program at South College follow the general admissions criteria to the college, along with several requirements specific to the medical assisting program. These include but are not limited to recognizing and accepting the various occupational hazards they may face in a medical laboratory or clinical setting; demonstrating the requisite level of physical and/or emotional fitness; and producing evidence of vaccinations and CPR training. General requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent, such as the GED, or an associate degree in another field.
The medical assistant programs at South College are all accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and are eligible for financial aid.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) offers a fully remote Online Medical Assistant and Electronic Health Records Course designed to prepare students to sit for the National Healthcareer Association’s (NHA) CCCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) and CEHR (Certified Electronic Health Records) certification exams, the latter of which is unique to this program. In addition to learn the basics of clinical medical assisting, students obtain specialized training in electronic health record (EHR) management.
Administered through ed2go and is considered non-credit, meaning it does not qualify for federal financial aid. TCAT encourages students to contact state workforce development boards to see if funds are available and to inquire about financial assistance. This program is self-paced, and students can begin at any time.
Note that while a high school diploma or its equivalent is not required to enroll in the program, one is required to sit for the CCMA exam.
The University of Tennessee, Martin
The University of Tennessee-Martin offers another top-tier online Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program in Tennessee. Like the program at TCAT, students have 12 months from the date of their enrollment to complete the self-paced course.
The course tuition, which totals $2,795, includes a voucher for the CCMA exam. Keep in mind that while there are no prerequisites to enrolling in this program, the CCMA exam requires test takers to have a high school diploma or its equivalent to sit for certification.
In addition to coursework on medical terminology, diagnostic procedures, nuclear medicine, and pharmacology, students receive instruction on preparing for their careers and the opportunity to earn clinical experience. The clinical experience requires a separate application that program administrators recommend students complete roughly two weeks before completing their online coursework. Although clinical placement is not guaranteed, the program maintains affiliations with several clinical sites to help facilitate placement.
Since this program is not for credit, students are not eligible to receive federal financial aid, however funding may be available through state-based programs or private organizations.
The Ultimate Checklist for Online Medical Assistant Programs in TN
It is essential to attend a quality program that provides the foundation for your future career and sets you up for success should you ever decide to continue your education. As you begin to apply to online medical assistant programs in Tennessee, keep your eyes peeled for the following program qualities.
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in TN: The Next Right Step
Applying to and graduating from one of Tennessee’s online medical assistant programs is just the first of several steps to obtaining and maintaining the training and certification you need to make a career in this field. Keep reading for an overview of the milestones you’ll need to hit to get your career off the ground.
Online Medical Assistant Programs in TN: Your Questions Answered
Pursuing any career training is a big decision. As you explore online medical assistant programs in Tennessee, it is normal to have questions about everything from the application process to program costs to your career prospects, and more. We’ve addressed some of the most common concerns among prospective medical assistant students below to help you feel confident as you take this next step.
Do online medical assistant programs in Tennessee have prerequisites?
Medical assistant programs prepare students for entry-level jobs in allied healthcare. As such, few, if any, programs have prerequisites. In fact, some online medical assistant programs in Tennessee, such as the one offered through TCAT, allow students to register for and begin their program in as few as 24-48 hours. Regardless of your program’s prerequisites, or lack thereof, certification as a medical assistant requires a high school diploma or equivalent.
How can I network during my program, and does it matter?
Networking during your program can help you land your dream job after graduation. Although it can be slightly more difficult to do so while completing an online program, you can network by building professional relationships with peers in your program; engaging in discussions with your instructors; establishing rapport with staff at clinical sites; and joining a professional organization like the Tennessee Society of Medical Assistants.
Is it difficult to be accepted to Tennessee online medical assistant programs?
In short: no. While nearly all online medical assistant programs in Tennessee require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED, few have GPA or prerequisite requirements. The more advanced the degree or certificate program, the more stringent their application requirements are bound to be. For a more detailed breakdown of what it takes to get into a medical assistant program, you can check out our dedicated guide.
What funding is available for online medical assistant students in Tennessee?
Federal financial aid is always a good place to start, particularly if you are enrolled in an accredited, for-credit program. If you attend a program that does not offer or accept federal financial aid, you may be able to receive funding through workforce development programs, hospital or healthcare organizational training programs, or scholarships. Schools like South College accepts federal financial aid and partners with state and local organizations and initiatives to offer scholarships.
What is the average cost of an online medical assistant program in Tennessee?
The cost of an online medical assistant program varies according to its length, type, and fee structure. Tuition at South College, for example, depends on a student’s credit load. Quarterly tuition for students taking 10-20 credits is just under $4,000. In contrast, the programs at TCAT and the University of Tennessee-Martin offer a flat fee of roughly $3,000, although students can incur additional fees if they exceed the 12-month program timeline.
What subjects do medical assistant programs in Tennessee cover?
While the specifics will vary from school to school, online medical assistant programs in Tennessee generally cover medical terminology, legal and ethical issues in medical assisting, and the fundamentals of health insurance and medical coding and billing, among other related topics.
Part of working successfully as a medical assistant is having the hard and soft skills to keep a medical office running efficiently while providing the care and attention each patient wants and deserves. A robust program offer a curriculum that helps you develop both.
Salary Expectations and Career Prospects for Medical Assistants in TN
Understanding your job outlook and earning potential is an important part of deciding what to do with your life. This section can serve as a reference point of what you can expect to make and where. Use it as a way of determining if an organization’s offer approaches or exceeds the median salary for the area you’re applying in.
Medical assistants across the United States, and particularly in Tennessee, can expect job growth that is much higher than average through 2032, with more than 2,000 positions becoming available year over year. And the good news doesn’t end there; medical assistants in the Volunteer State can earn up to $45,000 annually. If you think this sounds low compared to what your peers make in states like California or New York, you’d be right, but you’d also be remiss not to consider factors like cost of living. Tennessee is regarded as the 10th most affordable state in the United States. So, while you may not make the same salary as someone who lives in California or New York, the odds are high that your dollar will stretch further.
Likewise, both the cost of living and the average salary vary across the state. Those in larger cities like Nashville earn a higher median salary than those living in rural areas, which is 93% of Tennessee. However, rent and property costs are generally lower in rural areas than urban areas.
Source: Projections Central
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics