What Are the Benefits of an Online Associates Degree in Medical Assisting?

Working in health care is a passion for some, giving people the opportunity to help others and make a difference in their lives. Yet, many positions in the field require a lengthy and costly education that may just not be affordable for some. If you're interested in medicine, but either don't have the time or money to put toward a pricey tuition, then earning an online associates degree in medical assisting may be the right avenue for you.

Online Associates Degree in Medical Assisting

Medical assistants serve the offices of health practitioners in a variety of tasks, ranging from the administrative to the clinical,[i] according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In terms of clerical duties, medical assistants may be responsible for setting up appointments, taking calls and setting schedules. They may also be expected to take and file any records relating to patients, including their health history and other personal information.

The role of medical assistant goes beyond basic secretarial duties, however. They also generally assist physicians with basic medical tasks. This includes measuring blood pressure and heart rate upon patients' entry, providing injections and helping out in any other aspect of an examination under the direction of a physician. Following an appointment, they may be expected to update patient records and prepare any materials for laboratory tests.

This mixture of clerical and medical duties can make work as a medical assistant a good introduction into the world of medicine. Patient interaction gives insight into working with sick people on a daily basis, while paperwork exposes assistants to the bureaucracy built into the medical profession.

Earning an online associates degree in medical assisting may prepare you to take on these roles. Medical assistants will need a basic understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and other related subjects in order to perform their duties. Depending on the degree, graduates may be prepared to work for different types of physicians, ranging from podiatry to chiropracty.

Jobs available

There are different types of medical assistants depending on a person's level of interest in clinical work and a specific field of medicine,[ii] according to the BLS. Administrative assistants focus more on paperwork and scheduling, and must handle insurance and medical information. Meanwhile, clinical assistants are involved in hands-on aspects of the job, including taking x-rays, recording patient history and other patient-oriented duties. The medical field one chooses to enter will further affect the types of roles performed. Optometry assistants may help with specific examinations and tests related to the eye, podiatry assistants will focus on the foot and chiropractic assistants, with the back.

While medical assisting degrees generally prepare students to become a medical assistant, people with this associate's degree may be able to find work in related jobs that require little educational training, including pharmacy technician or human services assistant.

Potential salaries

Wages associated with medical assisting may vary depending on the office at which one chooses to work. However, the BLS provides statistics on the median annual wage and the job outlook for this field:

  • Medical assistant: $29,370[iii] (29 percent expected job growth through 2022)[iv]
  • Pharmacy technician: $29,320[v] (20 percent expected job growth through 2022)[vi]

Skills required

To become a medical assistant, it's generally important to have a good balance of the organizational and hands-on skills required to effectively handle the administrative as well as the clinical aspects of the job. Being able to keep records with clarity and detail are essential to making sure people get proper care. Meanwhile, assistants should be comfortable interacting with people, especially those who may be sick.  So, are you interested in earning an Online Associates Degree in Medical Assisting? Start now!

[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-2 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-2 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-1 [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-6 [v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm#tab-1 [vi] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm#tab-6