As the medical industry continues to grow faster than most other industries, the need for well-trained assistants and entry-level technicians has also grown. Online medical and dental associate degree programs provide background knowledge and clinical training to help you begin your career in a physician's office, dentist's practice, clinic, laboratory, research facility, or hospital. After graduation, you could become an... essential healthcare team member and help improve the efficiency and quality of services delivered to patients.
Many online schools offer more than one associate degree program, allowing you to focus your studies and gain additional knowledge in your area of interest. For example, associate degree programs for medical assistants help prepare you for jobs such as ultrasound technician, radiology technician, or registered nurse.
At the associate degree level, you will be required to take some liberal arts classes. Courses in medical degree programs will likely include intensive training in areas such as Medical Billing and Coding, Medical Transcription, Phlebotomy, EKG, Laboratory Procedures, Pharmacology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Medical Law. You will also participate in internships that provide practical hands-on learning opportunities. Depending on your area of concentration, you could choose to intern in a medical office, hospital, or other healthcare site. For a dental assistant associate degree program, you will likely study topics such as Dental Materials, Pharmacology, Clinical Procedures, Dental Specialties, Dental Science, Chair Side Assisting, and Dental Radiography.
Several medical specialty areas such as phlebotomy technician and EKG technician require you to have specific licenses or certifications to practice in the field. Likewise, some states require dental assistants to be licensed or registered to perform advanced duties such as radiological procedures. You might also choose to earn voluntary certification such as those offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Association of Medical Technologists (AMT). These could give you a competitive edge over other candidates applying for a job. Your associate degree program should prepare you for any licensing requirements or certification tests you plan to take.
Beyond classroom learning, there are personal characteristics that may help you succeed in the field. For example, often, medical and dental assistants deal directly with the public, so having strong interpersonal communication skills and a courteous, pleasant manner are essential. You must also be able to take direction and respect patient confidentiality.
After graduating and finding a position, you may continue to receive on-the-job training. Certain fields also require you to take professional development courses or ongoing training to maintain your credentials or stay up to date on procedures. This additional training along with significant years of experience can also help you to advance to other positions such as teaching medical assisting to others.