Navigating a Medical Assistant Program: What to Expect

Medical assistants assist physicians and healthcare providers, making it essential for them to have a solid foundation of medical knowledge to provide necessary patient care. Medical assistant training options include universities, technical colleges, and online courses.

Regardless of the chosen option, various courses are common within these programs, such as medical coding and billing, medical terminology, physiology, and anatomy. Let’s explore some popular medical assistant courses, what students learn from these programs, and how to succeed in medical assisting.

What Can You Learn from the Most Common Medical Assistant Programs?

While they may have different names, most medical assistant programs cover similar relevant topics. Here are some subjects typically covered by these programs:

Medical Terminology

Medical terminology is a crucial component of any medical assistant program. Efficient communication in a healthcare setting relies on a thorough understanding of medical terms by all healthcare providers. Failure to use appropriate medical terminology can lead to errors, confusion, or potential harm to patients.

Anatomy

Anatomy courses delve into the body’s structure. Here, medical assistants learn the scientific names of body parts, starting from the cellular level. Students in anatomy classes must memorize the names and locations of all 206 bones, major organs, muscle groups, and other body tissues.

Physiology

While anatomy focuses on the names and details of body parts, physiology explores how these structures and tissues work together to enable effective functioning. Students in physiology classes learn about cellular and tissue damage and healing, as well as bodily functions such as circulation, respiration, digestion, metabolism, and more.

Medical Coding and Billing

Medical assistants often play a significant role in administrative tasks within a healthcare setting. These tasks include interacting with insurance companies and managing costs.

It’s important to note that each symptom, diagnosis, and procedure is assigned a unique medical code. These codes are sent to insurance companies to ensure that healthcare facilities receive payment. Therefore, accuracy in coding and billing is crucial to ensure proper treatment of all parties involved.

Clinical Patient Care

Students enrolled in clinical patient care classes acquire practical knowledge necessary for success as medical assistants. In these courses, they learn essential skills such as performing simple wound dressings, taking accurate measurements, administering injections, and monitoring vital signs. Participation in these classes helps new medical assistants feel comfortable and confident in providing care to patients.

Phlebotomy

Phlebotomy involves drawing blood from a patient’s vein using a small needle. Learning phlebotomy enables medical assistants to draw blood from patients while preventing contamination of the blood sample and minimizing the risk of injury to the patient.

With proper training, medical assistants can minimize bruising, pain, and the risk of nerve damage to the patient. Blood samples are crucial for diagnosing various health issues, including hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and cancers.

Infection Control

Comprehensive training in infection control is essential for all healthcare providers. Unfortunately, more than 1.7 million infections in the United States are healthcare-associated. These infections often result from inadequate implementation of infection control practices in healthcare facilities such as clinics and hospitals.

It is vital for medical assistants to adhere to sterile techniques, use personal protective equipment correctly, practice proper handwashing techniques, and regularly clean rooms and equipment to prevent the spread of infections.

EKG

Also known as an electrocardiogram, an EKG measures the electrical activity in the heart. It is used to diagnose heart conditions such as heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, and other abnormalities in heart rhythms.

During an EKG procedure, the medical assistant will place 12 stickers on various parts of the body. It is crucial that these stickers be accurately positioned to obtain precise measurements.

Medical Law and Ethics

Healthcare professionals must uphold good ethics and ensure compliance with healthcare laws. Every patient should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, religion, or race.

This demonstrates acting in the patient’s best interest and avoiding harm. Additionally, medical law courses should cover the scope of practice laws, HIPAA regulations, and reporting laws for abuse and malpractice.

Patient Care Coordination

Navigating healthcare can be complex. In patient care coordination classes, medical assisting students learn to manage patients requiring referrals to hospital care, rehabilitation, therapy, and specialist services. These courses should also address community resources, social work, and assisting patients in meeting their basic needs.

Surgical Assisting

Medical assistants play a crucial role in assisting with bedside procedures such as wound debridement, skin biopsies, cast applications, and suturing.

While they do not perform these procedures independently, they assist in them. It’s essential for medical assistants to be familiar with the functions and names of basic surgical instruments and to understand how to maintain sterile conditions in the area.

Customer Service

Medical assistants are often the first point of contact for patients when they enter a medical facility. They may be tasked with handling billing inquiries, scheduling appointments, and answering phone calls. In customer service classes, medical assistants learn problem-solving techniques, conflict resolution skills, and how to create a welcoming environment for patients.

Pharmacology

While medical assistants are not authorized to prescribe medications, having basic knowledge of pharmacology is important. Patients may have questions about medications when they call or visit the doctor’s office.

If medical assistants have some understanding of pharmacology, they can recognize potential safety issues or ask clarifying questions. Although medical assistants often administer medications, it’s crucial for them to have a comprehensive understanding of the specific medications they provide to patients.

Office Administration

An efficient medical assistant will make sure that the doctor’s office is well-organized, and everything is running smoothly. Office administration tasks are one of the important tasks of a medical assistant.

Some of the office administration tasks are dealing with vendors, coordinating referrals for specialists, ordering supplies, and making sure that the patient’s chart is up-to-date and well-organized.

Additional Medical Assistant Courses for an Associate Degree Program

Generally, associate degree programs for medical assistants take longer compared to certificate programs and usually include general education courses such as writing, mathematics, and sociology.

Writing

In medical assisting programs, writing covers basic writing skills as well as scientific writing that implements APA formatting, with sources limited to peer-reviewed articles.

Mathematics

Mathematics courses are more advanced and focused on healthcare-related areas, often including statistics.

Sociology

Sociology courses cover various topics such as organized crime, family interactions, social changes, social structure, as well as issues related to religion, race, and gender.

Integrity Health & Education offers a Medical Assistant Program and other courses. For more information, you can call us at (940) 323-1973 or send us an email at admissions@integrityhealthed.com.

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