Healthcare Careers

If you are planning on entering the medical field you need to know as much as you can about health care careers so that you can make an informed decision and not simply dive into something that you might regret. The good news is that health care careers are in high demand across the gamut of medical fields. This means you have plenty of options to choose from when you start your education and ultimately enter your chosen field.


The first thing you have to determine is how much time you can invest in your education. You can’t just jump into a healthcare career without first having some prior education. How much time and how much education depends on many factors and the level of degree you are seeking. Some education options for the healthcare field include:

  • Certificates: Certificates are generally used for continuing education requirements or to simply further your education after you are in the medical field. There are also certification programs for areas such as nurse’s assistants that allow you to start work after you pass an exam.
  • Diploma: You can find many programs that will award you a diploma which allows you to be eligible for certification in your chosen area, such as nursing. Once you have the diploma you can become registered by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Associate Degree: This degree is below the Bachelor’s Degree. It is a two-year degree compared to a four-year degree. Health care careers that start with an associate degree are only furthered by the additional classes that make it a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: These are four-year degrees that allow you to start your career at a higher level than you could with an Associate’s Degree or diploma. It is also easier to transition to higher educational levels.
  • Master’s and Doctoral: These are the two upper levels of education, following in succession after the Bachelor’s Degree.

Often you will find that your choice of career in the medical field dictates your degree level. For example, you can’t become an attending physician with a Bachelor’s Degree; you have to get your PhD in medicine. On the other hand, you can become a registered nurse with a diploma. You simply have to study the different health care careers and the education requirements in order to know what you must do.

Health Care Careers

The number of careers you can choose from in the medical field is almost endless. You can work as a nurse’s assistant, a nurse, an educator, researcher, doctor and many more. Some of your career options are described below to give you more insight into the various options available beyond nurses and doctors:

  • Medical Imaging: Working with medical imaging involves learning to operate machinery such as x-ray machines, MRIs, sonograms and more. Advances careers learn how to read and interpret the results. Careers include medical monographer, radiation therapists, radiologist, magnetic resonance technologist and many more.
  • Pharmacy: Entering the medical field through pharmaceutical studies is an interesting and necessary medical career that many people enjoy. You can choose to become a pharmacist, a pharmacist technician or even go all the way to the PhD level and work in research.
  • Podiatry: Working with the feet is a special field with its own discipline. Many people require a podiatrist to care for their feet, particularly diabetics. Other people require podiatry services for fractures, breaks, surgical issues and more.
  • Communication Sciences: If you want to work in the medical field but not necessarily as a nurse or doctor you may consider communication sciences. As an audiologist or speech pathologist you provide health care services to people who have difficulty communicating.
  • Laboratory Sciences: If you simply prefer not to be around patients and yet still want to work in the medical field, there are numerous health care careers you can choose. Some options include phlebotomy, cytogenetics, clinical laboratory scientist, blood bank technology specialist and more.

As you can see by the few health care careers listed here, you don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to be in the medical field. There are literally hundreds of options with varying educational requirements. Using what you know about yourself and your likes and dislikes you should be able to come up with at least one that you will enjoy.

Veterinary Nurse Training Courses

Veterinary Nurse Job Description
After taking the required veterinary nurse training courses, a veterinary nurse is one of a number of para-veterinary workers who assist a veterinarian; however, unlike veterinary assistants, a VN has a protected title and certification requirements. He/she may be required to observe animals (taking pulse, temperature and so on), manage wounds (dressing and splinting), catheter procedures, ear and eye flushes and injections.

In addition, the VN may need to analyze skin, blood and urinary specimens. Although a great deal of their work is clinical, they also have a huge investment in hands-on performance and care with the animals. A special love and rapport with pets is absolutely essential to the veterinary nurse’s success, as well as owner and peer rapport, and the ability to successfully collaborate with thesupervising veterinarian. She is also an educator, directing pet owners to healthy and stable care choices for their pets, and on occasion an advocate for animal rights and anti-cruelty.

How to Become a Veterinary Nurse:  Schooling

As with most nursing careers, human or animal, an early start is recommended: you should get all the high school math, chemistry and biology you can. However, if you know your specialization is going to be as a veterinarian technician or technologist, you should enroll in a veterinary training program, an accredited university that specializes in preparing professionals in animal health care.

Once enrolled, you should be prepared to train as a veterinarian technologist, a four-year course that yields a bachelor’s degree. The program will include some of the following veterinary nurse training courses:

–        Principles of Medicine

–        Radiology (surgical, which is the same paradigm as radiological surgeries for humans)

–        Pharmacology and anesthesia administration

–        Veterinary clinical pathology (specialization course)

–        Animal care, management and nutrition (specialization course)

Veterinary Nursing Certification

Once you have completed the veterinarian technician or technologist schooling (and the latter is definitely preferred as it gives many more job opportunities), you can sit for the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination), which allows you to achieve certification as a veterinary nurse. Most veterinarians require this certification before they will hire you

Animal Care Experience for VNs

In addition to certification, most veterinarians require multiple hours of animal care experience in an internship (at the veterinarian’s office) or an externship (a facility outside of the veterinarian’s office, such as a zoo or animal care facility). The student should work with both small animals (cats, bird, dogs) to large (horses and rural animals).

Fortunately, most veterinarians also allow for internships that provide the minimal hours necessary for certification. Usually, the budding veterinary nurse works as a veterinary assistant, a less demanding role than that of veterinary nurse, and the novice will probably be placed under the tutelage of an actual veterinary nurse for most of the training. The role of assistant could extend from simple observation of animals (vital signs) to actual assistance in animal surgery, depending on the rigor of the training program undertaken.

You do not need to achieve RN certification or similar status to work as a VN, and the course work is much less strenuous, particularly in internships. The hours required will vary from institute to institute, and most training programs will offer both the training and examinations necessary to complete the classification of Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. However, you should look to complete at least 500 to 1,000 hours of part-time animal care hands-on training to be competitive in the VN job market.

Where Veterinary Nursing Is Going and How Much it Pays

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is excellent for a VN; the demand may grow beyond 38 percent by 2018. The starting salary range is between $20,356 to $30,677 for VNs with less than a year of experience.

This increases exponentially with the number of hours of Animal Care Experience, and with the Bachelor’s level of certification as a Veterinary Technologist, going as high as $44,002 annually. A Master’s level will command $65,000 and more.

In short, there’s never been a better time to take your love of animals and translate it into a fulfilling life-long career by registering for veterinary nurse training courses.

Paramedics to RN programs

Must know facts about Paramedics to RN programs
After the hectic work of being a paramedic/ Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); the situation where everybody expects you perform the best and save the lives of their loved ones, it could be time you are thinking of changing careers. As a Paramedic, you have certainly faced the worst traumatic situations- fire, tragic accidents, domestic violence, natural catastrophes, death and many more. With all this tucked under your eyebrows, you are well weaned to start off in another health care career as a licensed RN.

Switching from Paramedic to RN

Normally, when you switch from a paramedic to a RN, you will be awarded an Associate of Science in Nursing. Paramedics wishing to become RNs can take either of the two study paths available:

i)        EMT to RN bridging program

The study is referred to as a bridging program as you already have the basics of what a RN does.  The bridging, as the name suggest, is a simplified version of the usual Nursing degree program. The only difference between the paramedics and RNs is that they never have the opportunity to follow-up on their patient’s recovery progress. The mandate ends at the hospitals’ emergency centre reception.

ii)      Traditional nursing school

You may also choose to start the nursing degree from the lowest point like you have never set foot on a medical class. However, not many students take this route as it is seen as unnecessary repetition. If you wish to have a strong solid foundation, this could be the way to go. But that does not mean that if you took the bridging option, you will be half-baked-it is just a matter of personal preferences.

Course duration to become a RN from a Paramedic

In advancing from an emergency medical technician to RN via the bridging program, you will have to undertake two years of study. By the end of this period, you will be in a position to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) test. Upon passing this test, you will be given the license to practice as a Registered Nurse.

If you take the other option of starting from the bottom, it will take you a longer time; usually 3 to 4 years to earn your ASN degree

What are the Prerequisites of the Paramedic to RN programs?

The first requirement you need in order to enroll for a paramedic to RN program is your paramedic license. This will be proof that you have prior medical experience and knowledge of the vital roles of a RN. In addition, you will have to produce your high school diploma.

In rare instances, the school enrolling you may require you to have attained a minimum of GPA 2.5 during your EMT training. Others still, ask for ACT and SAT achievements as a pre-evaluation curtail.

Paramedics are busy people- what study options do I have

As a paramedic, you will have little or no time to attend a typical daytime classroom lesson. In this case, many paramedics to RNs programs are being offered in a flexible- easy to study way. Many schools offer the bridging course as online learning packages. This gives you space to do your day work and study whenever you have the time.

Only in few cases will be required to attend practical lessons onsite. On the other hand, you may apply for a study leave and enroll for a crush full time nursing program.

What is the major course work in the Bridging programs?

As there is no much of a difference between these two medical professions, the course work is quite easy. The most important aspect of training a paramedic to a practitioner who will be confined in a hospital setting is long-term patient care.  Paramedics must learn how to establish good patient-nurse relationships, which has been shown to aid in the healing process.

This hence, translates to too much of fundamental nursing courses like:

  • Advanced patient care concepts

Since you will spend most of the time with patients contrary to the Emergency response, you will have to learn give long-term care to patients. This includes taking daily tasks like monitoring patients’ records, deciding on care plans, advising on post-treatment patient care, nutrition and other forms of therapies, hospital rounds etc. As a RN, you will also be taught on how to educate the public on emerging health issues.

  • Psychology and Psychiatry

As part of the healing process, Registered Nurses must have a quick understanding of the psychology of patients. In this case, patient psychology must be taught as a core and fundamental course in the transition from paramedics to RNs.

  • Critical Childcare nursing

RNs have immense mandate of pediatric and neonatal care. They sometimes serve as midwives and as such, they must have the details of pediatric nursing. This is not usually taught during paramedic training. However, you will not be required to take many pediatric lessons unless you want to specialize in that medical line.

  • Special patient Nutrition

This is a vital area where paramedics need to be trained on. Normally, paramedics do not get to a point where sustained diet plans for patients are required. But in a hospital setting, RNs must have the knowledge to devise the most beneficial nutritional needs for patients during and after hospital discharge. Nutrition lessons are usually taken during the first semester of the Bridging program

  • Medical ethics

This is required for every medical staff. Keeping private and confidential of all patients’ facts, records information is one of the basic elements of being a trusted RN. You will be taught the code of medical ethics and the laws that govern patients’ rights and entitlements.

  • Microbiology

AS opposed to outdoor or mobile medical services of the paramedics, RNs are required to learn all disease causing agents. In this case, you will have to have in-depth studies of bacteriology, virology, fungi and other disease causing microorganisms. You will have to master how all these microorganisms are involved in the disease process and how to counter them.

  • Anatomy and physiology

The two courses are vital in the nursing career and their importance cannot be overemphasized. You will never be a qualified nurse if you cannot master the location of major tissues and organs.

  • Advanced laboratory methods

Registered Nurses are expected to undertake major clinical and testing procedures. As such, you will need to be trained in handling and operating laboratory equipment and the practice of safe lab methods.

  • Healthcare administration

RNs are usually given the mandate to head major departments in the hospital setting. In this case, you must undergo rigorous healthcare administrative training to gain managerial and administrative skills. These skills will help you become a senior or head nurse

Where will my Associate of science in nursing degree take me?

After completion of studies and getting the license of a RN, you will have great career opportunities in major hospitals. Many RNs also find work in hospice settings and home-care programs in addition to being employed directly in physicians’ offices.

Other RNs will want to work as occupational nurses dealing with a particular cluster of occupation-related ailments.

Salary comparison between paramedics and RNs

The major reason why paramedics shift from their careers to become fully recognized healthcare professional is the earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, paramedics have the potential of earning twice their salary when they become RNs. It is this that will be the number one reason of switching from an emergency medical technician to a registered nurse.

While emergency medical technicians earn from $19000 to $50000, Registered nurses take home a whooping $45000 to $95000. This clearly indicates the huge desire for transition from the former to the latter.

List of schools that offer paramedic to RN programs

  School Physical address Web address
1 Clark State Community college 570 East Leffel Lane
Springfield, Ohio
2 Virginia college 400 Chase Park South
Birmingham, AL
3 Trinity Valley Community College 800 W Highway 243 Kaufman, TX




4 The college network 3815 River Crossing Pkwy, IN http://www.collegenetwork.com/programs/DegreePrograms/Nursing/ASN.aspx
5 Kaplan University 550 West Van Buren Street, Chicago, IL http://ocw.kaplan.edu/medical


The examples above are just a tip of the iceberg. For more information on schools within your locality that offer EMT to RN transition programs, the local Nursing board could help you locate.

Potential RN students may also wish to locate schools that will have flexible learning modes especially if they do not plan to quit their current paramedic jobs.  Making a great choice will help you have a smooth transition to the course of your desire. Above all, the right choice comes with in depth research and wise consultations

While both stressful and rewarding, the job of a paramedic has career advancement opportunities similar to those in any other medical field. Having a Registered Nurse (RN) license can position you to earn more money and land prime jobs in your field, with average starting salaries nearly $20,000 above the average paramedic’s salary. And with several online paramedic to RN programs, you can find a degree program that fits within your busy schedule.

Moving from Paramedic to RN

In addition to earning more, an RN’s hours can be much more desirable than a paramedic’s. Statistics show that a paramedic averages only eight years on the job, with burnout very common in the field. Years of seeing such trauma can take a toll on even the most professional paramedic, prompting them to seek out other career paths after only a few years on the job.

The problem for many paramedics, however, is time. How can you squeeze classroom learning into an already hectic schedule? Thankfully, several online paramedic to RN programs exist that are both convenient and inexpensive. You can either choose a local hybrid that combines both classroom and online learning or a distance learning program that is exclusively web-based.

Great Colleges Locally and Far Away

Excelsior College has a paramedic to RN program that provides distance learning. The program uses assessments to determine a nurse’s level of knowledge in various areas of their chosen field. Excelsior specializes in providing education to working adults, billing itself as a leader in online education and distance learning. The school can even work with you to customize your learning experience to fit your needs and schedule. Headquartered in Albany, New York, the courses can be taken from anywhere in the country, but check with your state licensing board before beginning any distance learning program to make sure your degree will be accepted.

If you live in Virginia, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College offers an AAS degree in nursing to in-state residents currently holding a paramedic license. You will receive eight credits toward your 69-credit degree and the program spans four semesters. In addition to online courses, you’ll be required to purchase CDs containing your course materials. You will also have to perform clinicals at a local hospital, which will be approved by a faculty member of the school.

The Community College of Baltimore County has a paramedic to RN bridge program that can be completed online. This program is designed for paramedics with a minimum of two years of hands-on experience in the field. This is a hybrid online and classroom experience available only on CCBC’s Catonsville campus in Baltimore, Maryland, but the program is open to anyone with a valid Maryland paramedic license.

Clark State Community College also has a program for local residents. Laboratory and clinical portions of the program must be completed on Clark State’s campus, which is located in Springfield, Ohio. The courses can be completed online, however, allowing the Ohio resident to commute when necessary and do the rest from home.

If you live in Kansas, Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas has a hybrid program for registered EMT-Ps. Upon enrollment, you’ll be given thirty days to choose from during which to complete the clinical portion of the program at the Hutchinson campus. Of those dates, you’ll pick ten to twelve days that work best for you. The program takes two years to complete.

Bridging the Gap

Whether you’re planning to complete your training online or on a campus near you, it’s important to look for a bridge program designed to help paramedics become RNs. You’ll get credit for the license you already have, allowing you to receive your degree in less time at with less expense than if you were planning to go directly to Registered Nurse status.

Most nursing programs will require hands-on experience, so look for an online program that lets you complete your clinical work at a location convenient to you. Even distance learning programs will often allow you to do your work in a hospital in your hometown, as long as that hospital is located close to you.

Thanks to technology, a large number of online paramedic to RN programs are now available to help you earn your RN license in a small amount of time. Once you’ve received your RN, you’ll be ready to move on to the next phase of your career and work better hours while earning more money.

How to Become a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists treat patients of all ages who have difficulty with moving and performing physical activities due to illness or injury. This is a highly challenging and responsible role within the healthcare field offering attractive salaries and excellent long-term career prospects.

Before you find out how to become a Physical Therapist, let me first show you what the career entails.

Physical Therapist Scope of practice

The primary role of physical therapists is to examine each patient and develop a treatment plan that will reduce pain, restore functionality, promote mobility, and prevent further disability. They develop wellness programs to foster a healthier and more active lifestyle. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists provide care to over 750,000 patients every day in the United States.

In today’s cost-conscious healthcare environment, physical therapy is being called on more and more often as an alternative to expensive surgical procedures.  Therapeutic exercises and functional retraining are the primary methods of physical therapy treatment. Depending on the severity of the injury or disability, physical therapists may “manipulate” (move the limb within a certain range of motion)) or massage a muscle to stimulate blood flow and restore function. Physical therapists may also use electrotherapy, ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves that emit heat).

Although physical therapists do work in hospitals, more than 80% work in other settings such as private practice, home health agencies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, sports complexes, rehabilitation hospitals, and corporate health departments.

Conditions that physical therapists treat include:


Back Pain

Fractures and Sprains





Sports Injuries

Traumatic Brain Injury


Career Satisfaction

A recent survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center showed that physical therapists report one of the highest job satisfaction ratings in the country. The survey showed that more than 75 percent of physical therapists who took part in the poll reported that they were “very satisfied’ with their career. Indeed, physical therapists were second only to members of the clergy in terms of overall job satisfaction and the only healthcare workers to make it into the top 5.

How To Become a Physical Therapist : Education &Training

As per APTA, all physical therapists must possess a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before being eligible to sit for the national exam that will grant them the right to practice within their state.

Physical therapist degrees on currently offered on two levels:

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree
  • Master of Physical Therapy Degree (MPT)


The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), the accreditation body of The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), accredits entry-level education programs in physical therapy. Currently, CAPTE accredits 212 physical therapy programs throughout the United States. Of the 212 accredited programs, 203 are accredited doctoral-level programs and 9 are master’s level programs. Both degree programs prepare students to sit for the national licensing exam in all 50 states.  As per APTA, “The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) will require all programs to offer the DPT degree effective December 31, 2015.”

As per APTA, curriculum requirements include biology/anatomy, cellular histology, physiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, pathology, behavioral sciences, communication, ethics/values, management sciences, finance, sociology, clinical reasoning, evidence-based practice, cardiovascular and pulmonary, endocrine and metabolic, and musculoskeletal. Eighty percent (80%) of the DPT curriculum comprises classroom (didactic) and lab study and the remaining 20 percent (20%) is dedicated to clinical education. PT students spend on average 27.5 weeks in their final clinical experience.

Admission requirements

Most DPT/MPT physical therapists programs will require a bachelor’s degree for entry. Some programs offer a 3+3 option in which 3 years of pre-professional physical therapy undergraduate coursework must be satisfactorily completed before the student can be admitted into the 3 year professional portion of the program.

A few physical therapy programs recruit students direct from high school who evidence strong interest in pursuing a career in the field.  High school students who are accepted into these programs are guaranteed admittance into the professional portion of the 3+3 year program pending successful completion of prerequisite courses at the undergraduate level and any other specific requirements (such as maintaining a minimum GPA).

Selecting the best program for your needs

As you begin to research schools, keep in mind that you will only be eligible to sit for the national licensure examination if you have graduated from a physical therapists program that has been accredited by CAPTE. Once you have identified accredited programs you should consider the following factors when narrowing down your choices:

  • Program structure and curriculum
  • Types of clinical education and training opportunities (e.g. types of clinical settings that the school has affiliations with).
  • Faculty composition and cohesiveness (have they been published; how long have they been teaching; clinical specialty area?)
  • Student demographics (e.g. would you feel comfortable mixing with the student body?)
  • Facilities (e.g. classroom, laboratories, library)
  • Campus setting (e.g., do you prefer to study at a rural, urban, suburban campus?)
  • Geographic location and distance from home/family (do you want to study away from home or do you wish to commute to campus every day?)
  • Size of the university (would you be more comfortable in a smaller setting where you can stand out or would you prefer the anonymity of a larger campus?)
  • Size of PT program’s entering class
  • Licensure pass rates
  • Job placement statistics
  • Admission requirements
  • Cost and financial aid opportunities (are there scholarship opportunities, does the school employ teaching assistants?)
  • Extracurricular activities (you want to balance your study with social outings so try and find out if the school offers activities in which you have an interest)


Licensure as a Physical Therapist

All 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands mandate that physical therapists obtain licensure to practice. Each state maintains its own standards for certification and licensure must be renewed on a periodic basis with the majority of states requiring continuing education as a requirement of renewal. Physical therapists must practice within the scope of practice as defined by their state.

One of the main tools that most states use to determine whether to grant licensure is the National Physical Therapy exam (NPTE) administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). As per the FSBPT, the licensing authority of your state will individually determine eligibility requirements to sit for the NPTE. You should review the material distributed by the licensing authority where you intend to apply for licensure to ensure you are eligible before applying to take the test. It is a somewhat costly process so best to first determine that you meet all requirements. Visit the Web site of the FSBPT to learn how to contact your state licensing authority.

The NPTE is a competency-based test that covers theory and practice of physical therapy, examination, diagnosis, treatment planning, and injury prevention.

Post-Graduate Clinical Study

Licensed physical therapists may wish to pursue a residency or fellowship program to advance their knowledge and skill set.

  • Clinical Residency: A clinical residency offers clinical and didactic (instructional) education to significantly advance the physical therapist resident’s skill-set in providing patient care within a defined area of practice. The fellowship provides ongoing opportunities for clinical supervision and mentoring.
  • Clinical Fellowship: This program also offers clinical and didactic learning experiences but is geared toward physical therapists that are able to evidence clinical expertise prior to commencing the fellowship.This expertise must be in a clinical practice area related to the practice focus of the fellowship. As per APTA a fellowship program must offer a curriculum that:

1. Is focused, with advanced clinical and didactic instruction within a subspecialty area of practice;

2. Is intensive and includes extensive mentored clinical experience; and,

3. Provides a sufficient and appropriate patient population to create an environment for advanced clinical skill building.

Specialty Certification: Physical therapists have the opportunity to specialize through the American Board of Physical Therapy (ABPTS). Specialization allows physical therapist to build on an existing base of knowledge to gain deeper insight with regard to one mode of treatment.  Specialty certification is voluntary and physical therapists are not required to be certified to practice in any one area. Physical therapists may become board-certified in one of the following specialty areas:

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary
  • Clinical Electrophysiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Sports Physical Therapy
  • Women’s Health

Earnings of physical therapists

There are currently more than 175,000 physical therapists licensed to practice in the United States. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic, the median salary for a physical therapist is $80,000. Earnings will be dependent on your title, years of experience, degree level, geographic location, and type of setting in which you work.

Medical Assistant Programs

Medical assistant programs are offered in a variety of settings, even online, and can prepare you to begin a challenging and rewarding career within the ever-growing health career sector.

Career Overview

Medical assistants are cross-trained to perform many administrative and clinical tasks within private physician offices, as well as hospitals and other care facilities. As per the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics, this is a career that is projected to be in great demand through the year 2018 with an anticipated growth rate of 34 percent. This growth is due to the aging of the population and rising need for medical services, along with an emphasis on preventative care so that greater numbers of people are scheduling regular doctor appointments.

Administrative duties may include:

  • Greeting patients who visit the office.
  • Answering telephones and scheduling appointments.
  • Updating patient medical records (most often performed using software applications).
  • Coordinating hospital admissions and laboratory procedures.
  • Performing billing and bookkeeping.

Clinical duties (which vary according to state law) may include:

  • Taking patient medical histories.
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients and their family.
  • Preparing patients for examination
  • Assisting physicians and nurses during physical exams.
  • Performing basic laboratory tests.
  • Teaching patients and their family about medication usage and proper diet.
  • Preparing and dispensing medication as directed by physician.
  • Calling in prescription refills to the pharmacy.
  • Drawing blood (may need formal phlebotomy training depending on state requirements).
  • Performing electrocardiograms.
  • Changing bandages and removing sutures and bandages.

Medical Assistant Education Programs

As per the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), there are no minimum educational requirements to begin a career as a medical assistant and you may apply for a job directly out of high school.  However, the AMA strongly recommends that those with an interest in this career complete an accredited medical assistant program and apply for certification. Graduating from an accredited medical assistant program can expand your job prospects, enable you to enter the field at a higher salary, and enhance opportunities for career advancement.

Medical assistant programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).  Those who graduate from an accredited medical assistant program will be eligible to sit for the certification exam administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), a division of the AAMA. Those who pass will the test will be awarded the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.

Medical assisting programs are offered at two year community colleges and private vocational schools. If you attend a community college you will graduate with an Associate in Science (A.S.) or Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. Graduates of vocational schools will be awarded a certification or diploma upon program completion. Those who attend a community college can expect that the first year of study will be devoted to liberal arts courses. Certificate programs offer only coursework directly related to medical assisting and are, therefore, the faster route to completing a medical assistant program. Both associate and certificate medical assistant programs provide students with hands-on experience in private medical offices, hospital- based settings, and other healthcare facilities.

As per the AAMA coursework in medical assistant programs includes:

  • Human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
  • Medical terminology
  • Keyboarding and computer applications
  • Recordkeeping and accounting
  • Coding and insurance processing
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Clinical and diagnostic procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Medication administration
  • First aid
  • Office practices
  • Patient relations
  • Medical law and ethics

Visit the Web site of either the CAAHEP or ABHES to locate an accredited medical assistant program in your area.

Certification of Medical Assistants

Certification can be obtained through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).  Upon graduating from a medical assistant program and passing a national exam administered by the NBME, the AAMA will award you the Certified Medical Assistant Credential (CMA). As per the AAMA, this certification is considered the “gold standard of medical assisting professionalism” and will provide the certified medical assistant with prestige among colleagues, along with higher salaries and enhanced job security.

More and more employers are mandating that candidates be CMAs. According to the AMA, its offices now receive “100 or more requests per day to verify that current or potential medical assistant employees are CMAs.”

Eligibility for certification includes:

1. You must be a graduate of a medical assistant program that has been accredited by either the CAAHES or ABHES.

2.      Apply online to take the certification exam administered by the NBME. The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions and covers both the administrative and clinical aspects of medical assisting. The exam handbook, available on the Web site of the AAMA, provides detailed information regarding the certification examination.

3.      The fee to take the examination is $125. For AAMA, CAAHEP, or ABHES members and $250 for non-members. You may pay by money order, bank check or credit/debit card (personal checks are not accepted).

4.      Study for the exam. The AAMA offers several options for study:

a.       Review the exam content outline available on the AAMA Web site.

b.      Take the AAMA practice exams to test your knowledge in the areas of anatomy and physiology and medical terminology.

c.       Enroll in a AAMA exam review course offered by an accredited medical assistant program in your area or by a local chapter of the AAMA.

d.      Having graduated from a medical assistant program will prove to be a benefit as you study since much of the coursework in these programs will have included topics covered in the exam.

5.      The exam is given at a Prometric test center located throughout the country. Instructions for registering for the test will be provided with you admittance letter sent by AAMA. The exam may be taken throughout the year.  However, it is advised you schedule early to ensure the date, time, and location of your choice.

6.      When you pass the examination you will receive an official CMA certificate from the AAMA, along with wallet-size identification card.  You will be able to use the designation CMA on your résumé and on all job applications across the country.  Your name will also be listed in the AAMA database so employers may verify your status. You can also feel very proud in having earned the highest credential available in the field of medical assisting!

7.      You will need to renew certification very two years. You can complete this requirement by passing an advanced examination administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners or completing AAMA-approved continuing education coursework.

Medical Assistant Programs – Selected Reviews

Brown Mackie College:

Brown Mackie College has locations in many areas of the country.  The campus locations offer a range of training opportunities including a program in medical assisting.  The medical assisting program is designed to prepare students to work in the medical field under the direction of doctors and nurses in a medical facility.  The coursework includes studies in medical procedures as well as basic administrative functions.  Upon completion of the program, students are able to find entry level positions in the medical field in a variety of settings. The program takes less than a year to complete.


Sanford Brown Institute:

With locations in many states across the country, Sanford Brown Institute offers a variety of programs including a medical assistant program.  The program is designed to provide training to help you handle both clinical duties and administrative functions.  Upon completing the program, students receive a certificate and are able to get entry level positions in the medical profession.  Medical assistants may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, doctor’s office, and other medical facilities.  Programs combine both clinical and administrative training to prepare students for a wide range of medical jobs.  The program can be completed in under a year.


Remington College:

Remington College offers a medical assisting program that prepares students for a career in the health care field.  Medical assistants may work in a clinic, hospital, doctor’s office or other medical facility.  The medical assistant program offers students a certificate of completion that allows them to find good paying jobs in the medical arena.  Remington College has various campus locations across the country.  Programs begin often and you can complete the course in as little as 8 months.  The curriculum provides both clinical and administrative training.


Everest College:

Everest College offers medical assistant programs through its many locations across the country.  The medical assistant program provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to join a medical team with an entry level position.  The course offers students hands-on training including patient care and communication, clinical assisting, pharmacology, medical insurance and bookkeeping, laboratory procedures, therapeutic care, and cardiopulmonary procedures.  After the classroom work is completed, students will take part in a 160-hour externship at a local medical facility.  The program prepares students to provide high quality patient care.


Florida Medical Training Institute

The Florida Medical Training Institute offers a medical assistant program at both the Melbourne and Jacksonville campus locations.  The course provides 950 hours of training including 200 hours of clinical training, 500 hours of classroom, and 250 hours of lab training.  Students will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the program.  The program is completed in about 9 months.  Graduates are prepared for entry level careers working at hospitals, clinics, private practices, and other health facilities.


Heald College

Heald College offers a Medical Assistant program that can be taken on campus at one of the many locations in California, Hawaii, and Oregon.  The program offers students a combination of classroom study and clinical laboratory study to give them the skills necessary to work in a variety of settings.  The Medical Assistant program prepares students for a variety of career options including clinical medical assistant, lab assistant, and patient services representative.  Two educational options are available – an Associate in Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting and a Diploma in Medical Assisting.