Medical assisting is one of the fastest entry-points to a career in healthcare. Unlike many professions that require years of medical or nursing school, medical assistants can complete their training in a matter of several months. The fast-paced nature of these programs helps to meet the growing demand for medical assisting professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for medical assistants is intensifying, with 104,400 job openings projected each year between 2020 and 2030.
What does this all mean for you? You can become a medical assistant in as few as 12 to 16 months.
While medical assistant programs offer a shorter pathway into healthcare, the curriculum can be intensive. After all, you will be working with real patients after graduation day. For this reason, medical assisting students must complete a comprehensive schedule of classroom lectures – gaining essential knowledge in anatomy, medical terminology, and office management – as well as clinical experiences, learning in direct healthcare or laboratory settings.
For this reason, online medical assistant programs are not typically available. Or, more specifically, fully online medical assisting programs are not always offered or recommended.
However, there are hybrid, online-focused medical assistant programs designed for students who do need some flexibility in their education. We understand that many students have other obligations, such as a full-time job or family to care for, and online classes are an important, deciding factor in pursuing a college education.
For this reason, Goodwin has expanded its flexible options for medical assisting students: Starting in the Fall of 2022, our medical assistant programs are now online-focused.
What is an Online-Focused Medical Assistant Program?
An online-focused medical assisting program is dedicated to training the next generation of medical assistants, using a flexible class format. In an online-focused program, the majority of coursework is offered online for students’ convenience. However, students still benefit from practical, hands-on learning through the occasional, in-person classes, lab experiences, and final internship.
At Goodwin University, for example, the online-focused medical assistant program only requires that students be present for 30% of their courses. Throughout the entire curriculum, which lasts between 12 and 16 months, students must only come to campus – or their internship setting – for the following:
- MED 151: The Medical Office and Patient Care
- MED 152: Diagnostic Procedures
- MED 153: Laboratory Procedures
- MED 299: Clinical Experience/Internship
Of note, these on-ground courses only equate to two in the first semester, one in the second semester, and one in the third, final semester of the medical assisting program. The goal of these classes is to provide regular, clinical-focused experiences where students learn under the supervision of real healthcare professionals and industry leaders.
All other courses – 70% of the program – can be completed online. Online medical assistant classes available in our certificate program include:
- Human Biology
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Office Management
- Medical Law and Ethics
Why Not a Fully Online Medical Assistant Program?
As noted above, it is important for medical assistants to receive practical training before diving into the field. Consider this: You wouldn’t send a football player onto the field without teaching them how to properly throw or run the ball, right? You can teach them the rules of the game, or the measurements for scoring, all virtually, but you can’t expect them to be successful without real, hands-on practice.
The same rationale can be applied to the medical assisting profession, and really any healthcare career.
In order to work with patients, operate medical equipment, measure patient vitals, or complete diagnostic tests, medical assistants need to be trained in a practical setting. They need to learn the basic methods for testing a blood sample, the right placement of tools when taking vital signs, and how to operate EKG technologies. They need to know how to comfort and speak with patients. They need to be familiar with the medical office. Even if they are going to be responsible for more administrative tasks, medical assistants should know the ins and outs of filing medical records, organizing patient data, scheduling procedures and appointments, and collaborating with the overall healthcare team.
These skillsets – this level of knowledge – cannot always be learned online. The most successful medical assistants will have trained in real laboratories or healthcare facilities.
Considering an Online Medical Assistant Program?
If you are considering an online medical assistant program because you need flexibility, you should also consider broadening your search to hybrid or online-focused training options, too. Hybrid is another way to say a blend of online and on-ground coursework. Online-focused programs, however, imply that the coursework is primarily offered online, with a small subset of clinical training offered in person.
Goodwin’s 70% online medical assistant program is open to aspiring MAs through Connecticut. You can learn more about the online-focused offering by visiting us online here.