Best 3-Month Medical Assistant Programs For 2021


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Have you decided you want a career in the medical field, but you are unsure whether you can commit to the extensive training that many programs require? If so, a 3-month medical assistant program may be what you have been looking for. While many technical programs require a year or more of education and training, a 3-month medical assistant program can give you the classroom and clinical instruction you need to begin work with less time commitment. If this sounds interesting to you, continue reading and find information about the best 3-month medical assistant programs for 2021, including admission requirements, cost, and study plans.



What Exactly Is the Goal of A 3-Month Medical Assistant Program?


A 3-month medical assistant program aims to enhance a student's understanding of the administrative and clinical duties related to a medical assisting role. In these short-duration programs, students learn to perform administrative and clinical tasks related to healthcare delivery. From learning about Healthcare Law and Ethics, Medical Terminology, and Office Systems Technology, these programs equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become an effective member of the healthcare team.


5 Things You Need to Know Before Applying for 3-Month Medical Assistant Programs


If you want to become a medical assistant but cannot spend a significant length of time pursuing an education, a three-month medical assistant program could be the perfect way to help you reach your goal. Before you apply to one of the programs, you should consider a few things carefully. The following list includes five things you need to know before applying to any of these short-duration programs.

1. Less time does not mean less responsibility. The best 3-month medical assistant programs include a mixture of classroom (or online) instruction and hands-on clinical experiences. Although the program may take less time to complete than other medical assistant programs, you will still be responsible for learning the necessary content to help you become a well-qualified medical assistant.
2. Do you learn better independently or with a group? Some of the programs featured in this article offer online classes, and others are designed for on-campus learning. Before you apply to a program, it is vital to identify the learning environment that is best for you. Although the program can be completed in a short amount of time, they involve a considerable amount of content. Knowing the type of learning you excel in will help you decide whether to apply to an on-campus or online medical assistant program.
3. What type of hands-on clinical experience does the program offer? Medical assistants perform a broad range of responsibilities in their day-to-day work. Even programs that are of short duration, like 3-month medical assistant programs, should provide an opportunity to participate in clinical experiences to prepare you for the role.
4. Does your state require medical assistants to become certified? If so, does the school help with the registration and testing process? State requirements for medical assistant certification vary. Historically medical assistants were trained on the job and not required to participate in formal training such as a 3-month medical assistant program. Even if your state does not require you to become certified, it is an excellent way for you to prove you have the knowledge and skills necessary for filling the M.A. role.
5. Are there any “hidden” fees? As you research different three-month medical assistant programs, one of the essential things to consider is how much it will cost. You may find that some school websites say something like, "Get your degree for less than $10,000," but may not indicate if that cost is inclusive of fees and supplies. If the information you find does not give you a clear breakdown of program expenses, consider talking with a financial advisor. By doing this, you can find out what your monetary obligations will be for the program and prepare for them.


How Much Do 3-Month Medical Assistant Programs Cost?


The cost of the best 3-month medical assistant programs varies, beginning at a little less than $2,000. Some programs cost as much as $15,000 or more. As you review programs and decide which is a better fit for you, be sure to clarify whether estimated program costs include additional fees, textbooks, or uniforms and other supplies.

The following list gives the estimated cost of each of the programs featured in this article.

The total cost of the three-month medical assistant program at Camelot College is $14,928.58. This cost includes the following fees: $100 administrative fee, $100 graduation fee, $52,80 for books and supplies, and $14,175.76 for tuition.

New Horizons Medical Institute offers one of our featured 3-month medical assistant programs. The program costs approximately $7,628 (see page 45 of the student catalog). Individual charges that make up the total cost include tuition, registration fees, lab fees, books, Hepatitis B vaccine, drug screen, CPR/First Aid certification, Blood Pressure Cuff and Stethoscope, and Certification examinations.

Students at Tunxis Community College pay $4,145 for the program, including tuition, administrative fees, books, and the NHA CMAA examination fee.

Cuesta College and Auburn University offer the two least expensive programs from this article.

◦ The program at Cuesta College costs $1,858.00.
◦ Auburn University’s 4-month online medical assistant program averages a total of $3,950.


Coursework


The curriculum for accredited 3-month medical assistant programs includes coursework that helps students build primary medical office and clinical skills. Schools that offer these programs may have some variation in the required classes and clinical experiences. However, basic classes are similar for each program. A few examples of courses students may take in a three-month medical assistant program include the following.

Medical Terminology: This course provides a framework for developing fluency using medical terms appropriately. The class focuses on learning the components of medical terms, which helps students break down terms if they know a prefix or suffix.
Anatomy and Physiology: In A&P classes, students gain an understanding of how the body is structured (anatomy), the basic functions of the body (physiology), and pathophysiology (cause of disease) associated with different body systems.
CPR/AED/First Aid: This course is used to certify students in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Students learn how to respond to emergencies such as choking, drowning, heart attack, or respiratory arrest.
Phlebotomy: Phlebotomy-related topics such as healthcare and laboratory structure, infection control, venipuncture equipment, specimen collection and transport, and legal issues related to phlebotomy are included in this course. Students learn to perform venipunctures to obtain blood specimens, the proper way to collect other specimens for testing (urine, stool, etc.), and safety measures to prevent the spread of illness or disease.
Externship: An externship is a hands-on clinical experience that exposes medical assistant students to real-life scenarios and patients. Students perform tasks such as bathing or feeding patients, helping with ambulation, and taking vital signs.

Camelot College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is home to an online 3-month medical assistant program. The program, which includes ninety-six clock hours of online coursework, is designed to improve the student's understanding of the administrative roles of medical assistants. Students are expected to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade-point average for the duration of the program and complete all ninety-six clock hours for satisfactory completion of the program. Coursework includes instruction in the following.

◦ Telecommunications
◦ Legal and Ethical Medical Issues
◦ Computer Basics
◦ Electronic Medical Records Systems

Students enrolled in the New Horizons Medical Institute three-month medical assistant program are prepared through classroom and clinical competencies to graduate and take the CCMA National Examination.

◦ Medical Terminology
◦ Medical Healthcare Roles
◦ Phlebotomy
◦ Safety Training
◦ EKG
◦ Behaviors and Health
◦ Medical Anatomy & Physiology

Auburn University offers one of our featured 4-month medical assistant programs in an online format. The program prepares students to perform in entry-level positions in medical facilities such as physicians’ offices, hospitals, after-hours or urgent care facilities, and outpatient clinics. Students are engaged in coursework and participate in hands-on training to learn routine office and clinical tasks. The 380-clock hour course includes 214 hours of lecture, 86 hours of laboratory simulation, and 80 hours of externship.

◦ Medical Terminology
◦ Anatomy & Physiology
◦ EKG
◦ CPR/AED/First Aid
◦ Behaviors and Health
◦ Medical Healthcare Roles

Tunxis Community College offers a 5-month Certified Medical Administrative Assistant program designed to prepare students to perform medical administrative tasks. Faculty of the program mentor students as they learn effective communication skills, electronic medical coding, insurance claims, record-keeping, and how to schedule appointments.

◦ Computer Skills for the Medical Assistant
◦ Electronic Health Records
◦ Health Insurance Processing, Billing, and Coding
◦ Medical Law and Ethics
◦ Risk Management
◦ Medical Office Procedures

The medical assistant program at Cuesta College takes eighteen weeks to complete. The fourteen-credit certificate program includes lectures, skills lab practice, and a clinical externship. Although California does not conduct medical assistant certification exams, graduates of this 4-month medical assistant program are eligible to take the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants (CCBMA) examination.

◦ Phlebotomy
◦ Professionalism for the Medical Assistant
◦ Anatomy & Physiology
◦ Computer Basics
◦ Medical Office Management Techniques
◦ Professional Employment Marketing Skills


Hands-On Clinical Experience


Most accredited 3-month medical assistant programs include hands-on clinical experiences or externships as part of their curriculum. The clinical experiences allow students to develop and sharpen their skills, making them effective in the medical assistant role after graduating. The best programs featured in this article have the following clinical requirements.

1. Camelot College requires students enrolled in its 3-month program to complete 540 lecture hours and 260 hours of hands-on clinical experience through an externship.
2. New Horizons Medical Institute offers a 380-clock hour medical assistant program that you can compete in 3 months. The program includes 214 hours of lecture/classroom instruction, 86 hours of lab simulation, and 80 hours of clinical externship.
3. Auburn University does not require students to complete a hands-on practicum as part of its 4-month medical assistant program. However, students who complete the program may participate in an optional externship opportunity designed to help them gain hands-on experience. The externship is part of a relationship between Auburn University and local companies/agencies/organizations whose work aligns with the role of medical assistants.
4. Cuesta College incorporates a three-week hands-on externship experience as part of its medical assistant program. The externship provides students an opportunity to apply theory to clinical practice. Students are placed in facilities where they are exposed to front and back-office roles and perform various skills under the supervision of a preceptor.
5. Students in the Tunxis Community College participate in a 100-hour internship designed to give them real-world experiences associated with the medical administrative assistant role.


Admission Requirements


Although admission criteria for the best 3-month medical assistant programs may vary among schools, general guidelines are similar. Typically, the minimum standards applicants must meet to be considered for admission include having a high school diploma or GED, proof of immunization compliance, preliminary background checks, and a national sex offender registry check. The best 3-month medical assisting programs featured in this article have the following admission requirements.

• Camelot College

◦ High school diploma or GED
◦ Financial aid award letter or proof of financial funding for the program’s cost
◦ Proof of Immunizations per Louisiana R.S. 17:170/Schools of Higher Learning
◦ Participate in an administrative interview
◦ Medical Assistant and CNA applicants must pass a state background check, CNA registry, and national sex offender check

• New Horizons Medical Institute

◦ Applicants must be at least 16 years of age
◦ Complete a registration package including a tuition agreement
◦ Sign for a Catalog/Student handbook
◦ Provide a copy of Government Issued Identification and Social Security Card
◦ Must have a high school diploma or GED

• Auburn University

◦ Applicants should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED
◦ There are no state requirements for admission to the program.

• Cuesta College

◦ Provide a copy of state-issued photo I.D.
◦ Submit a copy of your high school diploma or GED certificate
◦ Applicants must be at least 18 years old

• Tunxis Community College

◦ Applicants must be at least 18 years old
◦ Have a high school diploma or GED
◦ Submit the CMAA application, questionnaire, and abilities checklist
◦ Provide a certificate of physical health and all required health forms within two weeks of the program's start date



FOLLOWING ARE THE 5 BEST 3-MONTH MEDICAL ASSISTANT PROGRAMS (ONLINE & CAMPUS) FOR 2021

(These medical assisting programs are ideal for individuals who wish to become a medical assistant in 3-5 months.)

1. Camelot College - Baton Rouge, LA (Online)

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 3 Months



2. New Horizons Medical Institute - Norcross, GA (Campus)

Program Length: 3 Months



3. Auburn University - Auburn, AL (Online)

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 4 Months



4. Cuesta College - San Luis Obispo, CA (Campus)

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 4 ½ Months



5. Tunxis Community College - Farmington, CT (Online)

Program Length: 5 ½ Months



View Ranking Methodology



Career Opportunities After Completing This Program


Graduates of accredited 3-month medical assistant programs perform administrative and clinical tasks in various healthcare settings. Many medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, or surgery centers. Others may work in after-hours clinics or urgent care centers.


Earning Potential Post Completion of This Program


According to ZipRecruiter, after completing a 3-month medical assistant program, graduates earn an average of $30,692 annually. Some factors such as years of experience and the setting where employed may influence earning potential. Other sources report medical assistant salaries that range from $26,000 to more than $50,000 annually.

Hourly $14.76
Monthly $2,560
Annual $30,692
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)


Job Outlook for Graduates of This Program


According to recent United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for medical assistants are expected to increase by nineteen percent from 2019 to 2029. The BLS suggests that the number of aging baby boomers who require care for acute and chronic illnesses, the demand for preventive medical services, and the rise of chronic health conditions contribute to the anticipated job growth. As a result, physicians are likely to hire medical assistants to perform routine clinical and administrative duties, creating more job opportunities for graduates of accredited 3-month medical assistant programs.


Conclusion


If you desire to work in the medical field and enjoy administrative or office work and providing direct care to others, becoming a medical assistant is a great way to do both. With an anticipated increase in job opportunities and good income earning potential, enrolling in one of the best 3-month medical assistant programs for 2021 can give you a foundation of learning that will help you become a valued member of the healthcare team.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


What makes a person a good candidate for one of the three-month programs featured in this article?

Meeting admission criteria is the "formality" of beginning a three-month medical assistant program. A good candidate for these programs is someone who has a strong desire to work in healthcare, has good communication skills, and understands the job's demands. Many schools require applicants to participate in an admission interview before giving an offer for admission. Keep in mind, if you are asked to attend an interview, the admission faculty will be looking for traits including effective communication, friendliness, and professionalism.

Can I work in a supervisory role after graduating from a three-month medical assistant program?

Some medical assistants work in supervisory positions. Medical assistant supervisors typically manage the daily workflow of staff within the clinical setting. As a medical assistant supervisor, you may be responsible for interviewing job applicants, hiring, and training new employees.

What jobs pay graduates of three-month medical assistant programs the most money?

Income earning potential is variable and determined by years of experience, facility type, and job duties. However, some industries pay medical assistants more money. Medical and diagnostic laboratories, outpatient care centers, and hospitals are typically the employers that pay medical assistants the most.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.