Medical assistants (MA) are trained medical professionals who work in hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics. They assist with patient care and assessment, perform treatments and administer medications. They also provide assistance to doctors and other health care professionals. Most MA go through a medical assisting training program offered by trade schools located across the country. These programs are made up of the classes and clinical time needed to gain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to work as a medical assistant. Medical assistant training programs cover a variety of courses pertaining to health, office administration and patient care. Core classes teach students the information needed to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job duties of a medical assistant.
Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and physiology is a course taken by medical assistant students that teaches them about the human body’s systems. Anatomy educates MA students about the parts and structures that make up the human body. Physiology teaches them about how and why the body systems work. This course gives students the information needed to understand how, when and why some patient care, treatments and procedures are necessary. It also helps to explain how certain treatments, procedures and care affects patients.
A medical terminology course teaches students medical terms used when communicating about patients, treatments, medications, procedures and medical conditions. The definitions and correct spellings of words used in health care are taught to medical assistant students during this course. Correct spelling is important in health care because some terms that differ in spelling by only a few letters may have the complete opposite meanings. Mixing up these terms or misspelling words increases the risk of medical error, which can be harmful to patients. Medical assistant students learn common abbreviations used in health care. They also learn about prefix and suffix meanings, which help them decipher words that are not commonly used.
Pharmacology covers information pertaining to medications. Students enrolled in a MA training program are taught how medications and other drugs affect the body. Common uses for medications, drug interactions and side effects are taught during this course. MA students learn how to calculate medication dosages using equations or formulas. They are also taught various techniques for administering medications, such as by mouth, transdermal patch or through injection.
A phlebotomy course provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to perform blood draws. A phlebotomy course educates students about the common blood vessels used to obtain blood samples. It explains how and why specific equipment is used when drawing blood. The proper techniques for preventing sample contamination are shown to students to help ensure they perform the tasks efficiently. Safety techniques, which decrease the chances of risk associated with dealing with blood and body fluids, are also taught during this course
Basic Surgical Assisting
A basic surgical assisting course educates MA students about equipment used during surgery and other procedures or treatments. Students learn the proper names for medical equipment, as well as how to use the equipment. They are shown how to assist physicians during procedures and treatments. The proper way to sanitize and store equipment is also taught in this class.
Classes that pertain to patient care are also included within a medical assistant training program. Techniques for performing direct patient care are taught to students. This allows them to be prepared to work in the field. During this course, MA students are shown how to perform patient assessments, obtain vital signs and gather a patient’s medical history. Common techniques for performing certain treatments, such as applying a bandage or splint, may be included in this course. Tips on how to interact with different types of patients can be covered, including instructions for dealing with difficult or non-compliant patients.
A clinical course refers to clinical time, which gives students the opportunity to work with real patients and doctors in real health care settings. Clinical time allows students to perform assessments, provide treatments and administer medication under the supervision of trained medical professionals. It lets them practice their techniques and allows them to experience what it is like to interact with patients, doctors and other health care providers. This experience allows the MA to enter the workforce more competent and confident.
An office administration course teaches students the clerical skills necessary to work as a medical assistant. It teaches MA students how to successfully manage a doctor’s office. Through this course they learn various computer software used in health care. MA students are shown how to manage a patient and office schedule. They are taught the importance of patient confidentiality. Students learn how to compile charts, file and manage data. They also learn various communication skills, including how to talk with patients and other health care providers.