What Courses do Medical Assistant Programs Cover?
Medical assisting is an allied healthcare career that can be pursued through medical assisting training programs. Medical assistant degrees are segregated into three types of degrees that are Associate, Diploma, and Certificate. An associate’s degree requires almost a 2-year-long training period to complete the course, whereas diploma and certificate degrees can be completed in less than a year.
Is the Course Curriculum the Same in All Medical Assistant Programs?
Medical assistant courses are usually the same in all three degrees, but a medical assisting associate degree has a more specialized and in-depth curriculum. The medical assisting curriculum covers a wide range of administrative and clinical courses to prepare MAs for varied job duties. MA courses such as medical terminology, anatomy, phlebotomy, medical billing and coding, etc. are included in the curriculum of the training program. Upon the completion of these courses, MAs will get skilled in performing administrative and clinical tasks such as drawing blood, taking vitals, and maintaining patient data.
Common Course Subjects Covered During Medical Assistant Classes
The medical assisting programs train potential MAs to excel in administrative and clinical duties. The heavy coursework of the program covers various subjects such as medical terminology, physiology, medical laws, and ethics, to educate these professionals about their respective professions.
1. Medical Terminology
Medical terminology is a form of language used in the healthcare field. The language refers to the human body and its conditions, procedures, treatments, diagnosis, etc. MAs are required to learn medical terminology as they communicate with physicians and patients regarding health-related factors. A prime aspect of their job includes recording patient information, taking vitals that will require them to have proper knowledge about the subject. Medical terminology is required to perform medical coding proficiently.
2. Clinical Procedures
Clinical procedures are a course subject that prepares MAs to perform specialized skills at an advanced level. These skills are used in medical and surgical procedures that include administering an ECG machine, assisting in minor surgical procedures, performing pre and postnatal tests, etc.
3. Diagnostic Laboratory Procedures
Diagnostic laboratory procedures are carried out in medical facilities to determine the diagnosis of a particular specimen. The procedures examine blood and other body fluid specimens in a laboratory. The course will educate MAs about the collection of samples, urine analysis, administering hematology procedures, and pregnancy tests.
4. Medical Office Administration
The medical office administrative course educates medical assistants about their administrative duties towards the medical office. The course covers areas such as scheduling appointments, answering emails and calls, billing procedures, managing patient records, etc. It also introduces Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems to the professionals.
5. Medical Laws and Ethics
Medical laws and ethics is a course that is concerned with the responsibilities of medical professionals. The subject informs MAs about patient rights, confidentiality, HIPPA, licensure, and registration of medical professionals. The course revolves around laws and policies in a medical workplace.
6. Human Diseases and Pathology
Human diseases and pathology course provides information about human conditions, their diagnosis, and treatment procedures. Medical assistants get to understand diseases, treatments, signs and symptoms, and diagnostic procedures upon completion of the course.
7. Human Biology
Human biology is a study of anatomy, physiology, genetics, nutrition, etc. of a human body. The course educates MAs about different aspects of the human body to understand medical conditions, treatments, and diagnosis more effectively.
8. Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and physiology of a human body is a study of the structures and functions of different organs and body parts. By acquiring knowledge about the subject, medical assistants get to understand human biology thoroughly. This course also helps MAs to understand the causes of diseases and the requirements of certain procedures.
9. Medical Transcription
Medical transcription deals with transcribing medical reports that are voice recorded or are in other forms of spoken notes. The course prepares MAs to transcribe by using particular transcribing equipment or software with accuracy. The medical reports must be transcribed with correct vocabulary, spellings, formatting, and proper medical terminology.
10. Medical Billing & Coding
Medical billing and coding course trains medical assistants to receive reimbursement through billing and coding. The course covers topics such as ICD-10-CM and CPT coding systems, insurance protocols and regulations, payment procedures, etc. It also teaches the use of appropriate medical codes and the process of submitting medical claims.
11. Patient Care
Patient care is taught in medical assisting programs to prepare the students for dealing with patients and taking care of them. The program allows medical assistants to learn different methods of patient care, such as taking vitals, recording medical history, giving appropriate medication, applying first aid, and communicating with them through every clinical procedure and treatment.
Pharmacology is a branch of medicine that deals with medications, drugs, and their properties. Medical assistants learn pharmacology as their core curriculum subject to understand the uses of different medications, their side effects, nature, and to determine the proper dosage methods and drug therapy.
Phlebotomy is a process of drawing blood from a vein through a needle for diagnostic purposes. MAs are trained in phlebotomy to collect blood from veins by performing venipuncture and then send the specimen for testing. The phlebotomy course prepares medical assistants to draw blood by using accurate needles and tubes, and to restore hemostasis by practicing post-puncture care.
14. Emergency Medical Procedures
Emergency medical procedures are instructed to MAs so that they could assist physicians and health practitioners during medical emergencies. Emergency medical procedures are used to minimize risk to a person’s life. Methods such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), electrocardiography, and other first-aid procedures are taught to MAs during the completion of this course. Some colleges may require students to obtain AHA BLS certification that prepares them to perform CPR and other emergency cardiovascular care procedures.
Electrocardiography is a process used to detect the electrical activity of the heart. Electrocardiograph is recorded by ECG/EKG machines in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare centers. Medical assistants are trained to record ECG by administering ECG exams and analyze information about the electrical functions of the heart. The course educates MAs about different aspects of ECG, such as monitoring ECG/EKG tests, operating and maintaining ECG machines, etc.
16. Intercultural Communications
Intercultural communication refers to interactions between different cultural and social groups. Medical assistants learn intercultural communication to excel in verbal as well as non-verbal forms of communication. The course prepares them to deal with patients from different cultural backgrounds and provides them appropriate assistance.
17. Surgical Assisting
Surgical assistance is taught to MAs to prepare them to assist surgeons and nurses during operative procedures. During this course, MAs get to perform their assisting duties such as dressing wounds, sterilizing medical instruments and rooms, preparing rooms for operative procedures, providing required care to patients, etc.
18. Human Relations and Psychology
Human relations is a detailed study of the overall human behavior and interactions in the workplace. The psychology course helps students to implement psychological principles in a professional setting. The course will teach you the causes and motives behind human interactions in a work setting. As a medical assistant, you have to be organized in terms of managing the workplace. Thus, human relations will help you to maintain harmony between peers by minimizing interpersonal conflicts. Psychology and human relations will teach students different aspects of communication, social psychology, human behavior, etc.
19. Computer Applications
Computer applications is a subject that instructs MAs on different techniques to use software and applications. An MA has various administrative tasks that include recording medical histories, medical billing and coding, preparing invoices, etc. These tasks are carried out by accessing particular software. The course also trains medical assistants to gain information through EHR and EMR systems.
20. Medical Assistant Review – Capstone Course
The medical assistant review course is for students to help them prepare for MA certification exams. The course will make you assimilate the knowledge and skills learned in medical assisting training program to incorporate them in the preparation of certification exams such as Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA).
What is a Practicum or Externship?
A clinical externship or a practicum course is an unpaid externship MA program under professional supervision in an authorized healthcare facility. The practicum course lets students gain hands-on training experience in the medical assisting field. The externship allows medical assistants to implement their core curriculum theory in a practical setting. The externship program is usually provided by the respective medical assisting schools as they are affiliated with various medical facilities. The course requires approximately 200-300 credit hours for completion.
Other Additional Coursework Included in Advanced Medical Assistant Classes
Medical assisting programs have a curriculum that develops the skills required to become an efficient medical assistant. The coursework is highly concentrated on brushing up the administrative and clinical skills. Apart from the core curriculum, some advanced classes are also arranged for medical assistants to increase the possibility of career advancement. Other additional courses that will enrich the capabilities of a potential MA are stated below:
Humanities is the study of different aspects of human society and culture. It can be studied by referring to subjects such as literature, linguistics, religion, philosophy, law, history, politics, etc. Humanities is a discipline that deals with the origins and progression of human society and culture. In the medicine field, humanities is concerned with its application in medical practice. The course will allow medical assistants to see issues from a different perspective and also help them understand medical ethics more efficiently.
2. English Composition
The English composition course will enhance the reading and writing abilities of a medical assistant. English composing skills, along with proper knowledge of medical terminology, is required as medical assistants need to perform administrative duties such as creating reports, recording files, preparing medical charts, etc. The course educates students about English grammar, vocabulary, citing sources, and comprehensive writing.
3. Mathematical Literacy (Algebra – College Level)
Mathematical literacy is the concept of solving mathematical problems by interpreting solutions using fundamental arithmetics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The course will teach medical assistants some basic numerical skills that are required to perform specific administrative tasks in the medical office. Medical assistants must know basic math (that includes calculations, mathematical terminology, etc.) as they perform tasks such as medical billing and measuring medication dosage that is given to patients on a daily basis.
Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses medical imaging to diagnose and treat medical conditions. The course educates medical assistants about medical imagining procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-Rays, computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, etc. Medical assistants are required to perform duties like explaining radiology procedures to patients, preparing patients for the medical imaging process, and assisting radiology technicians or physicians during such proceedings.
Keyboarding is a basic computer operating skill required for typing proficiently. Medical assistants learn keyboard functions and typing skills upon the completion of the course. Computers are often used by MAs to accomplish administrative tasks such as recording medical histories, medical billing and coding, answering and generating emails, etc. These tasks require keyboarding as a critical component to complete the medical assisting job responsibilities successfully.
Written by : Casey Gardner
Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator. She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant, and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.