Did you know the healthcare industry is growing faster than any other industry in the country? This means when you become a medical assistant, you’re beginning a career that could offer numerous employment opportunities as well as job security!
According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants earn a competitive salary. In addition, they have great job satisfaction because they are able to work in an exciting industry while helping people for a living.
If this sounds like the right career for you, you’ll want to be sure to make yourself the absolute best candidate for the job. That means getting certified. But not any old certification will do. To stand out from other candidates, you’ll want to be sure to get the proper training.
Below, we’ve created a list of our favorite and best schools for medical assistants. Read more about what we look for and our methodology below…but without further ado:
Here’s the list of Best Schools and Classes:
- 100% Online
- Accredited University
- Fastest Completion
- Lowest Price
- No Textbooks or Fees
- Free Laptop
When it comes to starting a career as a medical assistant, Preppy is leaps and bounds above the rest.
This innovative organization is partnered with the very reputable Auburn University to offer students top-notch certification preparation. And not only that, but with Preppy, students don’t need to go into debt chasing after a 4-year degree!
Why do we love it?
It’s faster, affordable, and you can learn completely online and at your own pace.
In fact, you can complete the medical assistant program in as little as 4 months and be ready for the major certification for clinical medical assistants, the CCMA – Certified Clinical Medical Assistant from The National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
It could potentially prepare you for many others such as RMA – Registered Medical Assistant from The American Medical Technologists (AMT), NCMA – National Certified Medical Assistant from The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), as well.
You may not know this, but many certification programs available these days are from un-accredited institutions and generally lack any real reputation. With Preppy though, you’ll receive your training from the Auburn University, which is a renowned institution known for offering stellar programs.
This will likely look awesome on your resume and help you stand out from the other candidates!
Are we biased? Oh yes we are! You see, over the years, we’ve seen so many subpar schools offering certification training for medical assistants, that we are incredibly happy to see Preppy available for everyone.
The medical assisting program is also offered 100% online and is self-paced.
It also includes all textbooks and learning materials, so you never have to worry about hidden tuition costs.
Honestly, this is pretty unheard of in the industry. Most other programs will slip in hidden fees and also require that you drive to a physical location each week. Hardly doable for most working adults.
When you become certified through Preppy, you learn when is most convenient for you. Want to study in your pajamas in bed? No problem. You can study anywhere you like, anytime you like!
- Thorough Curriculum
- Includes Externship
- Requires Essays and Interviews
- Not Accredited University
- High Price
Gurnick Academy was founded more recently in 2004, and has a handful of locations in the state of California. Their specific focus is on health care training, and while it isn’t an accredited 4 year university, it does have accreditation as a healthcare school or post-secondary level. They offer a Medical Assistant Program that’s a blend of online and campus, with specific attention to becoming certified.
We like the fact that they not only have a good and focused curriculum, but also that they do include an external externship and have a focus on healthcare training.
We do have some problems with the program though:
1. Even though the program is blended online, you would need to have access there located in the state of California
2. Not only do they have a long program duration (8 months) the on campus schedule requires long hours during the day and is likely not conducive to someone who has a current job or family obligations
3. The cost of tuition is on the higher side, and likely requires some sort of aid or loan
4. Although they do have some different accreditations, we don’t like the fact that it’s not an accredited university.
College of Health Care Professions
- Thorough Curriculum
- Specialities Available
- High Price
- Long Program Duration: 1 year
- Need to Pass Tests to Enroll
The College of Healthcare Professions was formed in 1988 by a group of physicians who realized that medical training beyond physician and nurses would be required in a modern healthcare system. Although it’s not an accredited university in the traditional sense, it does have accreditation as a healthcare school. They offer a medical assisting certificate program that is online and does offer a thorough curriculum covering medical terminology, medical records, anatomy, clinical procedures, lab competencies and more. Some of the things we like about this program is that there are a number of specialties that students can also include in their certificate, the program is online and offers a thorough education and what would be required for certification.
There are a few things we don’t like though:
First is that the school is a for-profit institution, and not an accredited 4-year university. Many people don’t like that, given the crackdown by the government in prior years on for profit education.
In addition, the program does not include a coordinated externship, has a higher price tag that would likely require financial aid, and a longer duration program.
- No Textbooks or Fees
- For-Profit College
- Higher Cost
- Long Program Duration: 2 years
Penn Foster has been around for a number of years and we like their specific focus to help high school students and other adults access career relevant programs. They offer an online medical assistant program as an Associate’s Degree which prepares students for the certification and to work in the healthcare industry overall. We like the fact that they have a complete and thorough program curriculum for the various certifications, it is online and self paced, and does include an externship.
But, Here’s What We Don’t Like:
- Very long duration- since it’s an Associates Degree program, the duration is up to 2 full years which creates a long time before you could be working
- The cost is higher given the length of program
- While Penn Foster is a college institution, it is a For-Profit college which many people have a problem with. For-profit universities received a lot of bad press in prior years due to certain recruiting practices and government crackdowns.
- Online Classes
- Accredited School
- High Tuition (~$23,000)
- Longer Time to Completion
- Hybrid Classes
- Financial Support
UCLA Extension has a rich history in education dating back to 1917, even before UCLA was founded. As an accredited university, it has been behind some of the much-needed educational programs which are based on applied learning. Its Medical Assistant Program (MAP) is no different. Offered in partnership with UCLA Health, the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. The coursework brings together theory with extensive practical courses that prepare students for success as medical assistants. Students enrolled in the program learn about clinical and administrative tasks, how to administer medicines, and the use of health information systems as well as medical equipment.
Additionally, the program prepares students for many certification exams such as the NCCT (National Center for Competency Testing) and NCMA (National Certified Medical Assistants).
While a comprehensive program, there are a few potential drawbacks to mention with this program. Its 68 units of coursework, followed by 200 hours of clinical internship means the program takes longer to complete. In addition to this, higher tuition fee along with the absence of online classes can make the program an unfavorable option both in terms of affordability and flexibility.
What Makes a Good School for Medical Assistants?
Thanks to the growth in the healthcare industry, demand for medical assistants is absolutely booming. Because of this, many schools have begun to create certification programs to woo prospective students. Sadly, a majority of these programs aren’t very good, both in terms of curriculum and structure.
So what makes a medical assistant certification program the right one and why did we choose the schools we did?
Simple. They offered the following:
Online learning is incredibly popular with many students, and it’s easy to see why. For working adults with family responsibilities, it’s simply not realistic – or feasible – to move out of state for school. It’s not even that convenient to commit to driving to a local community college two or three nights a week.
Online learning promotes a healthy work/life balance. There is simply no need to uproot your life or cause disruption in your home.
Plus, you can continue to work your job and have the time to take part in family activities. Because you don’t want to miss those soccer games and recitals!
While an online education is convenient and practical, it’s only good if the training you are receiving is solid and will actually prepare you to take – and pass – the certification exam.
The schools on our list will fully prepare you for the major certifications, in this case those offered by The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and The American Medical Technologists (AMT) and others.
Every individual learns at their own pace. Some people will pick up information more quickly, and others a bit slower. There’s no one right way to learn, except that everyone should be able to learn at their own pace.
With the programs we’ve selected, you can relax and take the pressure off yourself and learn at your own pace. This gives you the opportunity to really understand the course material before moving onto the next subject.
Self-paced learning also means you study when you can realistically fit it into your schedule. If that means you can only study for an hour after the kids go to bed, that’s fine. There’s no need to keep up with other students who don’t have kids and can dedicate hours each day to their classes.
Textbooks are Included
We mentioned that many certification programs slip in a bunch of fees you weren’t expecting. And if you haven’t been in school for a while, let me tell you, textbooks are expensive! The schools we’ve selected include textbooks and all learning material in the price of tuition, so you’ll never be hit with any nasty financial surprises.
An Engaging Learning Experience
Learning should be fun and engaging. And if you’ve ever taken a program where you were expected to learn solely out of a textbook, then you know how BORING that is.
These programs we’ve selected are all taught by an instructor who has a passion for sharing their knowledge and experience in the healthcare field!
When you learn in a regular classroom setting, you can raise your hand at any time if you have a question. We selected programs that made it simple for you to get the answers – and tech support – you need.
We have also selected programs that have collaborated with healthcare institutions to provide you with invaluable hands-on experience.
Why is this so important?
Learning from a textbook or video modules is one thing, but gaining real-life experience is what will help you connect all the dots and stand out to prospective employers.
The Importance of Medical Assistant Training
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the healthcare industry is absolutely booming right now. A lot of this growth is due to an aging baby boomer population, who are requiring more and more medical services. And that means there is currently a great demand for medical assistants who can help provide these services.
While doctors and nurses may get all the glory, clinical medical assistants play key roles in helping hospitals and clinics run smoothly and efficiently. One any given day, these medical professionals perform a wide range of important tasks including drawing blood, taking patient medical histories, updating patient files, taking vital signs, phoning in prescriptions, changing the dressing on wounds and much, much more!
Perhaps the biggest role medical assistants play is to bring care and comfort to those in need. When you can build a career on the practice of touching people’s lives in a meaningful way, you experience deep satisfaction!
Satisfaction also comes from the fact medical assistants have a number of career options available to them, once they get their foot in the door. Because these professionals perform both clinical and administrative tasks, they are able to specialize in one or the other down the road. Many medical assistants go on to pursue nursing careers while others go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. Your options are plentiful!
The bottom line is, when you become a certified medical assistant, you not only set yourself up for a rewarding career with job security, you create almost limitless career possibilities.
We’ve just gone over a lot of important information, so let’s quickly recap:
Before writing this article, my team and I sat down and sifted through a lot of data to come to the conclusions we did. As I stated earlier, there are a lot of certification programs out there aimed at hopeful medical assistants, but they definitely were not all created equal.
In order to make the cut for this list, a school was given preference for having the following:
- Online programs
- Comprehensive preparation for certification exams
- Accredited non-profit university
- Shorter program duration
- Self-paced learning
- Textbooks and other learning materials included in the cost
- Instructor led
- Medical Assistant Externship to gain valuable experience
If you’re interested in a career as a medical assistant, you could become certified and begin working in as little as six months! What a great opportunity to work in an exciting industry helping people!
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