Since medical assistants concentrate on clinical, administrative and clerical tasks, medical assistant courses can focus on any of these areas. The course work offered by most medical assistant schools focuses primarily on clinical knowledge and tasks, but many programs also include classes in administrative tasks, office management and business skills.
Types of Medical Assistant Classes
Some courses studied by medical assistants are directly related to medical assisting job duties, such as those focusing on clinical knowledge, patient conditions and treatments. Others are more abstract, but nonetheless just as important to the career. These focus on topics such as doctor/patient confidentiality, medical law, or ethics. Still other medical assistant courses are focused on the administrative side of medical assisting, such as typing and bookkeeping.
Some common medical assistant courses include:
- Physiology – the study of the body’s systems and how they work together
- Health – a general course providing an overview of human health, diseases and functions
- Anatomy – the study of the human body’s individual parts
- Medical Terminology – the lexicon of the healthcare industry, including terms for conditions, treatments, and the underlying etymology
- First Aid – emergency treatment procedures, such as those used in the ER
- Medical Law – the body of laws and regulations that govern healthcare delivery and the use of medical information
- Patient Record Keeping – the administrative practice of keeping and maintaining patient records, including health information confidentiality
- Clinical Procedures – a basic clinical course surveying common medical assistant clinical protocol
- CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a basic and essential course for all healthcare professionals
- Pharmacology – the study of drugs, their effects and their interactions
- Typing – an administrative course designed to improve typing speed and ability
- Phone Etiquette – this important course helps students assume a professional, trustworthy demeanor when acting as the first point of contact for patients
- Medical Ethics – this is the philosophical side of medical decision making, approaching some of the ethical scenarios encountered in patient care
- Medical Information Security – this slightly technical course has to do with protecting the privacy of patients’ medical information while stored electronically
- Bookkeeping – this class has to do with keeping track of medical office expenses and revenues according to standard accounting practices
Medical Assistant Externships
Usually, medical assistant training involves completing an externship after other courses have been fulfilled. The purpose of an externship is to apply the concepts learned in other medical assistant courses to the real world.
There is a significant different between classroom learning and real world experience, and sometimes even the most academically accomplished student struggles when trying to apply classroom concepts to the real world. Externship programs are designed to be a segway between classroom learning and the work environment, introducing students to the experience of being a medical assistant.
During an externship, students work as medical assistants in a live clinic under direct supervision, working side-by-side with doctors, nurses and other medical assistants as they perform their daily functions. Their work performance is reported back to their instructor and contributes to the course grade. Sometimes an externship clinic hires the medical assistant as a full-time employee upon graduation.