Even though Medical Assisting programs and classes vary across the country (and depend on state accreditation standards), there are a number of common subjects most medical assisting students will learn about.
Since medical assistants perform a variety of clinical and administrative duties within a medical office, adequate training in a broad range of subjects is necessary to accomplish the common tasks often required of by medical assistants.
The following list is a snapshot of some of the classes you should take in your medical assisting program:
Endocrinology and reproduction
Medical Law and Ethics
This might seem overwhelming at first, but remember that these classes are not taught all at once. Depending on the medical assisting program you join, you will take one to three classes at a time.
And, some of these classes might be blended together. For example, the Medical Insurance class might include a study of bookkeeping; or the Patient Care course might include a study of laboratory procedures. You may only have to take 6 to 8 classes to graduate, but make sure these subjects are included in your study.
This broad class list might also look scary simply because of the strange class names. Cardiopulmonary, Electrocardiography, and Endocrinology sound more like classes that medical doctors would take, but rest assured that the words sounds worse than the class really is.
Let’s breakdown each medical assisting class so you know exactly what’s getting discussed.
Most medical assisting programs will have a class about the proper way to take care of patients and how best to explain common procedures. Patient care classes are important because they will teach you skills in reviewing patient charts, records management, basic front office skills, working with patients, and often common medical terminology is discussed.
Classes in disease transmission and the importance of sterilization is vital to any medical assisting curriculum. You want to know the proper methods in sterilization, and the basic laws initiated by the various health related governmental agencies (e.g. Occupational Health and Safety Administration).
The pharmacology class will help you learn about the common medicines prescribed by doctors. You’ll learn about therapeutic drugs, and their effects on the body. You will also learn proper methods of administering medicines.
Learning to work with health care insurance companies is also an important skill for medical assistants. This class will focus on teaching you how to read medical insurance bills, and how to understand some of the common terminology.
Basic knowledge of bookkeeping procedures is also important. This class will usually give you hands-on experience with check writing procedures, medical billing and coding, financial management, and basic accounting skills.
Sometimes the health sciences course is integrated with another class listed here. This class highlights practical guidelines for good nutrition and weight control strategies.
Cardiopulmonary will give you insight into the circulatory and respiratory systems. You’ll learn to check vital signs, learn medical terminology, and most schools will train you in CPR.
Though this class sounds like something you learn as an electrician, it actually is a class focused on studying the electrical pathways of the heart muscle. It prepares you for applying EKG or ECG leads to record the heart’s movement.
The lab procedures class will teach you common lab procedures performed in a medical office. You’ll study the proper handling, collection, and transportation procedures for various bio specimens.
Endocrinology and Reproduction
Endocrinology and reproduction will give you an overview of the functions of the skeletal, endocrine, and reproductive systems. This course often incorporates a study of child growth and development issues. You also might study various aspects affecting behavior.
Medical Law & Ethics
Vital to any medical office is a strict adherence to the medical laws and ethics governing a health care facility. During your medical assisting training, you’ll learn the principals and rules that should be followed, and how to recognize any illegal activity.
Any quality medical assisting program will give you an opportunity for real-world experience through an internship or externship program. The internship usually involves spending several hours a week in a medical facility where you’ll practice the skills you’ve learned. The internship programs are important because it allows you to gain confidence while gaining practical experience.
This brief list is just a summary of what you’ll be taught. Each medical assisting program will have different names for their classes. What’s important is that these subjects are incorporated somehow into your medical assisting classes.
If you find a program that is missing one of these subjects, make sure to question the academic dean or admissions representative at the school prior to enrollment. Find out the reasons why you will not get taught one of the above areas.
It’s not vital for your medical assisting career that you are taught all these classes ahead of time. Some of these subjects can get taught while on the job, or even during an internship. So it makes sense that certain medial assistant schools might not incorporate every subject here.
What’s important through this training is that you feel comfortable with the program you will enter. You want to know that upon graduation you are prepared and trained to begin working confidently in a medical facility. If you have doubts about the medical assisting program, visit other schools. In most major cities, you should find several schools offering medical assisting programs.