How Long Does It Take To Become a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants are an important part of any hospital or medical facility. They provide clinical and administrative support for physicians.

If you to become a medical assistant, most programs take between nine months and two years to complete, and prepare you for work at a medical facility. The Certification program at MTI allows you to become a medical assistant in as little as 42 weeks. Our program consists of a 38-week classroom component, and a 160-hour, four-week externship.

To become a certified medical assistant, you must complete an accredited certification or degree program, complete a brief externship, and pass a certification exam. This shows employers that you are trained and qualified to work in a medical office with patients.

How long does it take to become a medical assistant?

Most medical assistant certification programs take about nine to twelve months to complete through a vocational school or community college. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs in which the end result is an associates degree. The medical assistant program from MTI College can be completed in as little as 42 weeks. This consists of about 38 weeks of classroom training, and 160 hours of externship, completed in four weeks. No matter which program you choose, when training is complete, students receive a certificate or degree.  Most employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants, though in most states, employers also have the option of offering on-the-job training.

The demand for medical assistants is growing rapidly, with a projected 19% increase in job demand from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to start your career in this quickly growing career path, read on for more details, or contact an admissions specialist at MTI College.

What are the prerequisites for becoming a medical assistant?

Most medical assistant training programs require you to have a high school diploma, GED, or high school equivalency certificate. Then, you must complete a medical assistant certificate or degree program, including classroom training and an externship. Next, you must pass a certifying exam. MTI College prepares students to pass the Nationally Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) Exam.

At this point, you are now a certified medical assistant, and eligible to work at employers like hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and other health care facilities. The NCMA must be retaken every year to maintain certification.

Choosing a medical assistant training program

There are a few important things to consider when choosing a medical assistant program in which to enroll. Make sure that the college or school has an accredited program. Credits that you earn at regionally accredited schools can be transferred to most colleges in the United States. Accreditation also means that the program has to meet certain criteria that is universally agreed upon.

It is vital to take into account the externship program for the medical assistant course. Where will your externship be carried out? Who will be giving you hands-on training? Will you be able to work directly with physicians, or other health care providers?

Lastly, does the medical assistant program offer job placement assistance? Some vocational schools or community colleges have ongoing relationships with local medical offices and can help you get a job after completing your training program. Be sure to ask prospective schools about their job placement rate for graduating students. For graduation year 2018-19, the adjusted job placement rate at MTI College is 100%, and the unadjusted job placement rate was 78%.

How long is a medical assistant program?

The length of each accredited medical assistant program varies slightly, depending on whether the student is enrolled in a certificate or degree program. Here are some basic guidelines for how long most medical assistant training programs take to complete.

Vocational School

Community College

Program Length 9 to 12 months Length varies; about 2 years for associates degree
What Students Learn Clinical, medical, and laboratory knowledge and practices Clinical, medical, and lab knowledge and practices; general education
Credentials Earned Certificate or Degree Associate Degree
Extra Considerations Programs are usually quicker, less expensive, and more focused Credits usually transferable to four-year college; may help with undergraduate or graduate degrees or positions in specialized medicine

What is a medical assistant training program like?

MTI College prepares students in our Medical Assistant program to perform a diverse range of duties in the medical field. Our classes will train you in the proper protocols and procedures used in clinical environments. As a medical assisting student, you will learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. Any certificate program you enroll in should have a similar curriculum. The students in our Medical Assisting program are also required to finish a 160‐hour unpaid off‐campus Medical Assisting Externship along with standard classroom learning in order to graduate.

What is a medical assistant externship?

An externship is an opportunity for medical assistant students to shadow experienced physicians and medical assistants, so they can get hands-on experience. The externship allows students to work directly with patients, doctors, and health care professionals. A medical assistant externship is usually set up by the school providing the training program with a local health care facility. Most medical assistant training programs require completion of an externship before students can take the certification exam. By job shadowing experienced health care providers, a MA student can gain confidence and experience, and begin their career as a medical assistant with positive momentum. Most externships take place in a physician’s office, clinic, or local medical center. Some externship programs allow students the chance to work in different types of specialized medical offices.

In most medical assistant externships, the experienced medial assistant mentoring the student fills out an evaluation, at the halfway and endpoints of the externships. This evaluation is to assess if the student will be a capable medical assistant. In some cases, the overseeing physician may also fill out the evaluation. Constructive criticism and notes are part of the evaluation.

What skills do medical assistants need?

Medical assistants deal with both clinical and administrative duties and serve patients daily. Candidates with a combination of soft skills, organizational, and analytical skills tend to have successful careers in the medical field. Here are just a few of the attributes that will help you have a lengthy and illustrious career as a medical assistant:

Soft skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Positive attitude and friendly demeanor
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • Computer savvy
  • Adaptability and ability to “think on feet”
  • Good listener
  • Attention to detail
  • Compassion and empathy

Technical skills:

  • Exemplary patient care
  • Ability to schedule and organize patient appointments
  • Can take vital signs from patients
  • Ability to administer injections to patients, under supervision of a physician
  • Can enter and organize patient records and information
  • CPR certificate

How many hours do medical assistants work?

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most medical assistants work a full-time schedule. Some MA’s work evenings, weekends, or holidays to cover shifts in hospitals or clinics that are open 24 hours, seven days a week.

The typical work environment, scheduling, and work schedule is something you should consider when applying for a position. As of December 2020, 57% of medical assistants work in physician’s offices that respect normal business work hours. About 15% of medical assistants work in hospitals.

Starting a career as a medical assistant

If you’re ready to begin your career as a medical assistant, the Admissions team at MTI College in Sacramento can help you begin the process. For more information, to find out when next classes open, or apply for our medical assistant program, contact us today.

Want to learn more about MTI’s programs?

Our admissions team will help you find the perfect program to meet your goals. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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