Best 6-Month Medical Assistant Programs For 2021


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you interested in having a career where you can work in both administrative and clinical healthcare roles? Does being part of the rapidly growing healthcare industry sound like something you would enjoy? Maybe the idea is intriguing, but you wonder if you have the time or money to make it happen. If you have a passion for helping people and a healthcare career is something of interest to you, a 6-month medical assistant program is an excellent way to get started without “breaking the bank.” This article features the best 6-month medical assistant programs for 2021 and information about becoming a medical assisting student, what you will study, and how to begin your dream of becoming part of the healthcare field.



What Exactly Is the Purpose of A 6-Month Medical Assistant Program?


The purpose of the best 6-month medical assistant programs is to provide a supportive learning environment where students can gain technical skills, theoretical knowledge and develop professional attributes relevant for employment as medical assistants. These 6-month medical assistant programs offer classroom and clinical instruction necessary to equip students with the clinical skills to provide direct patient care and the skills needed to function in office settings of healthcare facilities.


9 Good Reasons to Enroll in 6-Month Medical Assistant Programs


1. Transition your career in no time! Unlike some college or university programs that can take years to complete, 6-month programs for medical assistants make it easy for students to get their certifications quickly.
2. Make money without having to spend a lot of money. Instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars or more on associate, bachelor’s, or higher degrees, you can enroll in one of the available 6-month medical assistant programs for much less money. As discussed in the next section, the average costs are often thousands of dollars cheaper than college-level programs.
3. There are endless opportunities for continued career growth. The medical field is filled with so many options to grow and learn. Medical assistants work in various settings, which makes the opportunity for continued learning and professional growth possible.
4. You’ll have a career with a meaningful impact on others. Medical assistants fulfill a broad range of responsibilities. Whether drawing blood, performing EKGs, monitoring vital signs, communicating with patients, or performing administrative tasks, the medical assistant's role is an essential part of healthcare delivery.
5. A sense of satisfaction and self-respect: Because the job you have will directly impact others, being a medical assistant can give you a deep sense of personal pride and self-respect.
6. Become part of a professional trade. All careers and job prospects are essential, and each person has their niche. However, students who enroll in 6-month programs for medical assistants are preparing themselves to become part of the professional workforce.
7. Stable career options: Healthcare is a technology-driven industry, and students in six-month medical assistant programs learn the skills necessary to keep up with industry standards. Additionally, with the rise in the number of after-hours clinics and a model of 24/7 patient care in hospitals and emergency clinics, the need for qualified medical assistants increases, meaning stable career opportunities.
8. Potential to work in any state you choose: If you are unsure where you will be residing in the next year or more, enrolling in a 6-month medical assistant program could be an excellent way to earn a trade that you can take anywhere. Unlike nurses who must have a multi-state license to move from one state to another and practice legally, you can work in any state if you earn the National Certified Medical Assistant certification.
9. Build a professional network. When you enroll in a medical assistant six-month program, you will develop relationships with classmates and instructors and open the door of opportunity to meet people who are already part of the healthcare industry. When you establish rapport with other professionals, you build a network that can be helpful as these professionals may offer references for you when you apply for a job or give you information about prospective job prospects.


How Much Do 6-Month Medical Assistant Programs Cost?


The costs associated with accredited 6-month medical assistant programs vary from one school to another. As the list below shows, the cost of the programs usually begins around $12,000. Some programs cost up to $20,000. As you research various programs to determine which one you prefer to attend, be sure to clarify whether estimated costs include fees for books and other supplies.

The following are examples of the cost of some of the accredited 6-8 month medical assistant programs shared in this article.

The medical assistant program at Motoring Technical Training Institute costs $16,450. This cost includes a $50 application fee, $100 for textbooks and supplies, and tuition.

At Herzing University, the Medical Assistant program is offered 100% online. The program includes twenty-four credit hours and costs $12,640.

The tuition cost for the Medical Assistant program at the Center for Employment Training is approximately $14,249. This cost includes a medical kit, training supplies, books, and uniforms.

Midwest Institute’s medical assistant program is completed in eight months. Tuition is $14,755, and there is an additional cost of $547 for books and other fees, making the average price of the program $15,302.


Coursework


Medical assistant programs, like the best 6-month medical assistant programs featured in this article, are designed to prepare students to provide patient care and to carry out office tasks. Programs include classes and hands-on clinical experiences. While the coursework may vary, depending on the school’s curriculum guidelines, core classes are typically similar and include the following.

◦ Anatomy and Physiology (A&P): This course gives students information about organs and systems within the body and how they work together to help the body function. Students learn how changes in body systems may require medical care, treatments, or procedures and how the care patients receive may affect their health.
◦ Medical Terminology: Medical assistant students learn common medical terms, abbreviations and use the terminology in day-to-day work.
◦ Pharmacology: Students gain an understanding of basic pharmacology, including how medications affect the body and the desired effects they should have. They also learn how to administer medications, including giving oral medications, applying transdermal patches, and administering injections.
◦ Phlebotomy: Students learn about blood vessels in the phlebotomy course and how to obtain blood samples for laboratory testing. The course includes information about how, why, and when to use specific equipment for blood draws and the proper techniques to prevent contamination.
◦ Office Administration: Another part of the 6-month programs for medical assistants is a class in basic office administration and procedures. This course teaches students the skills needed to manage a medical office successfully, such as a doctor's office. Students learn about computer software programs used in electronic health records, communication skills, and how to create charts, file, and manage patient data.

The above list is not intended to be inclusive of all the courses for 6-month medical assistant programs. Below are examples of some of our featured programs and sample coursework included in their curriculum.

The 6-month medical assistant program at HACC-Central Pennsylvania’s Community College consists of nine classes, two laboratory sessions, and an externship. The program prepares students with the knowledge and skills necessary to take and pass the National Healthcare Association’s Certified Clinical Medical Assistant Certification exam. Coursework is completed in the following sequence.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Introduction to Healthcare
◦ Medical Terminology and Disease Introduction
◦ Anatomy and Physiology
◦ Communication, Law, Ethics, and Professionalism
◦ Medical Laboratories I and II
◦ Clinical Practices I and II
◦ Health Insurance, Coding, Electronic Health Records
◦ Medical Office Operations
◦ Medical Assisting Clinical Externship

Emily Griffith Technical College prepares students to perform clinical procedures as well as administrative duties within healthcare settings.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Law and Ethics for Health Professions
◦ Medical Record Terminology
◦ Medical Assisting Laboratory Skills
◦ Medical Assisting Clinical Skills
◦ Basic Medical Sciences I, II, and III

The Medical Assistant program at Pensacola School of Massage Therapy and Medical Assisting is designed to prepare students for a wide variety of entry-level positions as a medical assistant in the healthcare field. In addition to the sample coursework listed below, students gain clinical and laboratory competencies, including 12-lead EKG procedures, infection control, safety measures, specimen collection, and phlebotomy techniques.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Pharmacology
◦ Insurance, Coding, and Bookkeeping
◦ Ethics in Healthcare
◦ Medical Terminology I, II, and III
◦ Anatomy and Physiology I, II, and III

Medical assistant students at Canadian Valley Technology Center, also referred to as CV Tech, earn an undergraduate certificate upon completing the program. Upon completion of the program, students have earned certification from the American Heart Association: Blood-Borne Pathogens, American Heart Association: BLS Provider, CPR, and First Aid, and AMT Registered Medical Assistant.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Anatomy
◦ Physiology
◦ Phlebotomy
◦ Pharmacology
◦ Medical Terminology


Hands-On Clinical Experience In 6-Month Medical Assistant Programs


Accredited 6-month programs for medical assistants include clinical training experience in addition to classroom instruction. The hands-on clinical training may be accomplished at physicians' offices, clinics, or hospitals, depending on where the school has clinical contracts. The clinical externships are designed to expose students to work environments typical of medical assistant roles and provide opportunities to develop skills. Some of the skills students learn are to perform venipunctures, prepare patients for examinations, perform EKGs and other tests, and assist with examinations and/or special procedures.

Here are a few examples of hands-on clinical experiences students enrolled in some of the best 6-8 month programs for medical assistants shared in this article.

At Hunter Business School, the Medical Assistant training program is among a few of the 7-month medical assistant programs available. HBS is proud to prepare entry-level medical assistants who are competent to fill the professional role of MAs. Students spend one hundred sixty hours participating in an externship within a medical work environment. In this externship, they are supervised by preceptors and learn valuable hands-on skills relevant to the medical assistant role.

Ross College offers a 7-month medical assistant program at forty-one locations in seven states. The program involves a curriculum that includes classroom instruction on general medical information such as basic anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, first aid, and assisting with examinations. Additionally, students learn office skills, including filing, medical charting, customer service skills, word processing, and computer information. For hands-on clinical experience, students participate in an externship. The externship gives students the chance to learn skills necessary for medical assistants in a medical setting.

During the second semester of the 8-month medical assistant program at Bolivar College, students learn more in-depth coursework, including anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. They also begin classes in billing and coding, and electronic medical records. This semester also includes a 180-hour externship which involves rotations in Pediatric/OB clinics, walk-in clinics, emergency rooms, operating rooms, intensive care units, physicians' offices, and more.


Admission Requirements


Admission criteria to any 6-month medical assistant program are determined by the school offering the program. The minimum requirement for applicants to medical assistant programs is to have a high school diploma or GED. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate good interpersonal skills and attention to detail.

The following are examples of admission requirements for some of the best 6-8 month medical assisting programs shared in this article.

Prospective students at Cecil College must have a high school diploma or GED. Because most healthcare facilities require any students entering their facilities to have background checks and drug screenings, all students in Cecil College’s 7-month medical assistant program must submit to both upon entry of the program.

Southwest Schools (SWS) in San Antonio, Texas, is home to one of the best 8-month medical assistant programs available. Applicants must be at least seventeen years old and must have a high school diploma or GED.

The medical assistant program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center is an eight-month program requiring students to complete 920 clock hours. The program includes 800 hours of classroom instruction and 120 hours of hands-on clinical experience. FTTC’s program is open to high school juniors and seniors, as well as adult learners.

Applicants who wish to be admitted to the medical assistant program at Modesto Junior College must have a high school diploma or GED. Prospective students should submit all transcripts, including high school and post-secondary transcripts, and meet the following admission criteria.

◦ Satisfactorily complete a Modesto Junior College English composition course or exhibit proficiency in essay writing skills at the college-level
◦ Pass a Pre-algebra course with a grade of “C” or higher
◦ Exhibit reading competency by scoring 85 or higher on Reading Accuplacer or pass a critical reading course with a grade of “C” or higher


5 Common Challenges That You Will Face as a Student in a 6-Month Medical Assisting Program & How to Overcome Each One of Them


There are pros and cons to everything in life. Things that may seem easy to one person to accomplish may be difficult for others. 6-month medical assistant programs are no exception. As previously mentioned, there are several great reasons to enroll in the programs, but there are also some common challenges. The following list includes five common challenges students in 6-month programs for medical assistants may face and ways to overcome them.

1. So much to learn in so little time: While one of the perks of a six-month medical assistant program is that you can complete the program and go to work in a short amount of time, the challenge is that there is a lot of content to learn in that timeframe. One way to overcome this challenge is to create a schedule that includes time dedicated to studying. If you prioritize your time and stick with a plan, it will become easier to stay on track and meet your goals successfully.
2. Learning to multitask: Medical assistants perform a broad range of tasks, requiring them to multitask daily. Even on a "routine" day at work, the unexpected can happen. Instead of doing several things at once, medical assistant students should learn to prioritize tasks from most important to least important and complete them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Also, if you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. It is always better to ask someone to help you than leave things undone, resulting in unfavorable grades or reviews.
3. Dealing with anxious or rude patients: Although some patients can be easy to work with, everyone is not. Medical assistant students may face nervous, anxious, or upset patients who come across as rude or ungrateful. To overcome the hurt feelings or frustration that you may experience because of their actions, try to imagine yourself in their positions. Take a step back if you need to. Talk to your teacher or preceptor, and remember, everyone has a bad day. Show sympathy, even when you don't feel like it. By demonstrating your care and concern, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one.
4. Learning to draw the line between professional and personal relationships: Healthcare careers are based on a foundation of caring for others. For some healthcare students, like those enrolled in six-month programs for medical assistants, it can be challenging to know when personal emotions begin to blur with professional responsibilities and boundaries. There is nothing wrong with listening to your patients and offering support. However, it is in your and your patients' best interest to keep things as professional as possible. Ways to do this include not giving out your personal information to be contacted outside your clinical site and avoid advising about anything personal.
5. Dealing with constructive criticism: Let's face it. No one likes to be told they have done something wrong or that they should do things better. However, professional growth means being able to take constructive criticism and grow from it. Instead of taking it as an insult, ask for advice from your instructors and preceptors. Try new ways to implement the instruction they offer you to help improve your performance and develop new skills.



FOLLOWING ARE THE 23 BEST 6-MONTH MEDICAL ASSISTANT PROGRAMS (ONLINE & CAMPUS) FOR 2021

(These medical assisting programs are ideal for individuals who wish to become a medical assistant in 6-8 months.)

1. Center for Employment Training - Santa Maria, CA (Campus)

Locations: Oxnard, Salinas, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Maria, and Watsonville

Program Length: 6 Months



2. HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College - Harrisburg, PA (Campus)

Locations: Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 6 Months



3. Emily Griffith Technical College - Denver, CO (Campus)

Location: Denver

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 6 Months



4. Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg, PA (Campus)

Locations: Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 6 Months



5. Cecil College - North East, MD (Online)

Location: North East

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 7 Months



6. Motoring Technical Training Institute - Seekonk, MA (Campus)

Location: Seekonk

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 7 Months



7. Hunter Business School - Levittown, NY (Campus)

Locations: Levittown and Medford

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 7 ½ Months



8. Ross College - Hopkinsville, KY (Campus)

Locations: Huntsville (AL), Evansville (IN), Fort Wayne (IN), Granger (IN), Kokomo(IN), Lafayette (IN), Muncie, Quad Cities (IA), Bowling Green (KY),Erlanger (KY), Hopkinsville (KY), Owensboro (KY), Ann Arbor (MI), BattleCreek (MI), Brighton (MI), Canton (MI), Davison (MI), Flint (MI), GrandRapids (MI), Jackson (MI), Kalamazoo (MI), Kentwood (MI), Lansing (MI),Madison (MI), Heights (MI), Midland (MI), New Baltimore (MI), Port Huron(MI), Roosevelt Park (MI), Saginaw (MI), Taylor (MI), Cincinnati (OH),Dayton (OH), Elyria (OH), North Canton (OH), Niles (OH), Ontario (OH),Sylvania (OH), Johnson City (TN), Knoxville (TN), Charleston (WV),Morgantown (WV)

Program Length: 7 ½ Months



9. Arizona College - Glendale, AZ (Campus)

Locations: Glendale and Mesa

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 7 ½ Months



10. Pensacola School of Massage Therapy & Health Careers - Pensacola, FL (Campus)

Location: Pensacola

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 7 ½ Months



11. Herzing University - Menomonee Falls, WI (Online)

Location: Menomonee Falls

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 8 Months



12. Concorde Career College - Southaven, MS (Campus)

Locations: Southaven (MS) and Memphis (TN)

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 8 Months



13. CCI Training Center - Arlington, TX (Online)

Locations: Dallas and Arlington

Program Length: 8 Months



14. Southwest Schools - San Antonio, TX (Campus)

Location: San Antonio

Program Length: 8 Months



15. Midwest Institute - Fenton, MO (Online)

Locations: Fenton and Earth City

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 8 Months



16. Canadian Valley Technology Center - El Reno, OK (Campus)

Location: El Reno

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 8 Months



17. University of Antelope Valley - Lancaster, CA (Campus)

Location: Lancaster

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 8 Months



18. Rend Lake College - Ina, IL (Campus)

Location: Ina

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 8 Months



19. Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Bells, TN (Campus)

Location: Bells

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 8 Months



20. Bolivar Technical College - Bolivar, MO (Campus)

Location: Bolivar

Program Type: Certificate

Program Length: 8 Months



21. Francis Tuttle Technology Center - Oklahoma City, OK (Campus)

Locations: Reno and Rockwell

Program Length: 8 Months



22. Modesto Junior College - Modesto, CA (Campus)

Location: Modesto

Program Length: 8 Months

Program Type: Certificate



23. Eastern Virginia Career College - Fredericksburg, VA (Online)

Location: Fredericksburg

Program Type: Diploma

Program Length: 8 Months



View Ranking Methodology



How To Get Certified as a Medical Assistant?


Graduates of the best 6-month medical assistant programs are expected to have a certain level of training and experience and should be able to demonstrate relevant competence. Each state determines whether a medical assistant must be certified. Many states require MAs to graduate from an accredited medical assistant program and pass a certification exam before practicing. Certification is a way of showing you have achieved the academic and clinical preparation to be effective in the role of a medical assistant.

The chart below gives examples of five certifying bodies and the medical assistant certifications they offer. The following are a few details about each one.

• The American Association of Medical Assistants: Applicants must complete an ABHES- or CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant program to be eligible to take the examination. The test includes 200 multiple-choice questions and is administered in four forty-minute test segments. The test fee is $125 for AAMA members and $250 for non-members. Certification must be renewed every five years by examination or completing continuing education requirements.

• The American Medical Technologists: Applicants must be a recent or pending graduate from an accredited medical assistant program or be a current or awaiting graduate from a formal medical services training program in one of the United States Armed Forces branches. These applicants must have 720 hours of instruction with a minimum of 160 hours of hands-on clinical externship. Additionally, applicants with a minimum of five years of work experience as a medical assistant within the previous seven years may apply to take the examination. Work experience must include administrative and clinical duties and must be full-time. The test fee is $120 for all applicants, and a $60 annual renewal fee is required. Certification must be renewed every three years.

• The National Center for Competency Testing: Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria. 1. Be a current medical assistant student or graduate of an NCCT authorized school, 2. Have two years of verifiable full-time experience as a medical assistant or 3. Be a US Military serviceman or woman who has completed a medical assistant program within the previous five years are eligible for testing. The test fee is $90 for current students, graduates who are testing within six months of their program’s completion date, and military personnel. Graduates, excluding military personnel, who test six months or longer after graduation must pay $135 for the exam. Certification is valid for five years.

• The National Healthcareer Association offers Clinical Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certifications.

CCMA and CMAA eligibility include possessing a high school diploma or GED. CCMA applicants must have completed the medical assistant program within the previous five years or one year of supervised work experience as a medical assistant within the past three years. Initial certification costs $155 and must be renewed every two years. CMAA applicants must have completed a medical administrative assistant program within the last five years or have one year of supervised experience in a medical administrative assistant role within the previous three years. The exam costs $105 and must be renewed every two years.


Certifying BodyCertification
American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
American Medical TechnologistsRegistered Medical Assistant (RMA)
National Center for Competency TestingNational Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
National Healthcareer AssociationClinical Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA)
National Healthcareer AssociationCertified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)


What Is the Scope of Practice of a Medical Assistant?


The legal requirements regarding a Medical Assistant's scope of practice vary by state. Generally, medical assistants work under the direction of a supervising position. The scope of practice for graduates of the best 6-month programs for medical assistants typically includes the following.

◦ Measuring and recording vital signs
◦ Recording patient information
◦ Preparing examination rooms and equipment
◦ Taking wound cultures
◦ Changing wound dressings
◦ Performing venipunctures
◦ Perform non-invasive techniques for which they have been trained
◦ Schedule appointments/consultations
◦ Assist with coding and billing
◦ File appropriate insurance paperwork


Where Can You Work After Completing This Program?


Graduates of accredited 6-month medical assistant programs work in various settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, physicians' offices, and home health agencies. A few examples of jobs medical assistants may find include the following.

• Clinical Medical Assistant: Roles vary depending on state regulations and designated scope of practice. Clinical medical assistants may perform basic laboratory tests, sterilize medical equipment, prepare patients for x-rays or other exams, perform EKGs, draw blood, or change wound dressings.

• Ophthalmic Medical Assistants: OMAs assist optometrists and ophthalmologists who provide eye care for patients. They may perform tasks such as teaching patients how to insert or remove contact lenses, care for contacts or eyeglasses or assist with procedures.

• Administrative Medical Assistants: In this role, medical assistants fill more of an office role than a clinical role. They may help with billing and coding, fill out insurance forms, answer phone calls and questions, or schedule appointments.


Earning Potential Post Completion of This Program


Medical assistants who are graduates of accredited 6-month medical assistant programs have the potential of earning a substantial income. Entry-level medical assistants earn close to $27,000 annually. As with other careers, the more experience one has, the easier it becomes to negotiate higher wages. As you can see from the chart below, every five years of experience comes with a $4,000 to $5,000 salary increase.

Level of ExperiencePer HourPer MonthPer Year
Starting (Entry-Level)$12.95$2,240$26,930
1-4 Years of Experience$14.60$2,530$30,360
5-9 Years of Experience$17.24$2,990$35,850
10-19 Years of Experience$19.85$3,440$41,280
20 Years or More Experience$24.32$4,220$50,580
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


What Is the Outlook Like for Graduates of This Program?


The medical field is a diverse industry with many opportunities. Medical assistants are a vital part of the healthcare team and perform a role that continues to see increased demand for services. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts medical assistant jobs to see some of the highest growth in the healthcare industry between 2024 and 2024. The bureau projects a growth rate of employment opportunities of twenty-nine percent. Graduates of accredited 6-month medical assistant programs are equipped with skills sought after by employers, giving them an edge when it comes to securing a good position.


Conclusion


Compassionate people who like to help others are excellent candidates for becoming a medical assistant. With the anticipation of growth in job opportunities and opportunities to expand learning and move up the career ladder, enrolling in one of the best 6-month medical assistant programs for 2021 is a great way to begin a career in healthcare.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


Are 6-month medical assistant programs the same as physician assistant programs?

Six-month medical assistant programs and physician assistant programs are not the same. Physician assistants are medical practitioners who can diagnose and treat medical conditions. Unlike medical assistant programs which prepare students for basic clinical skills and administrative duties, physician assistant programs are much more in-depth.

Are online 6-month medical assistant programs as good as the programs that are offered on campus?

Absolutely! There are accredited 6-month medical assistant programs that offer online learning. The format may differ slightly between online and distance-learning programs, but the curriculum is usually quite similar. Keep in mind, you want to search for a program that is accredited. This will ensure you are receiving instruction from a program that meets industry standards.

Can I transfer credits from a 6-month medical assistant program to a four-year college or university?

Some colleges and university programs allow credits from medical assistant programs to be awarded and used toward another degree. For example, HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, allows MA graduates to enroll in its Associate in Applied Science degree program and awards up to thirty credits toward that degree. Each school determines whether previous certifications have the appropriate content that can be used when pursuing another degree. Therefore, talking with an academic advisor and allowing them to review your transcript will help determine which credits, if any, can be used toward another degree.


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.