Best 9-Month Medical Assistant Programs For 2021


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

If you want to begin a career as a healthcare professional in an in-demand specialty, becoming a medical assistant could be an excellent opportunity for you. Even if you feel you do not have a lot of time to dedicate to education, a 9-month medical assistant program could get you started on the path to a healthcare career that offers many opportunities. Medical assistant 9-month programs are designed to help you reach your educational goal of joining the healthcare industry and can be a catalyst for earning a higher degree later if you choose. The best 9-month medical assistant programs for 2021 featured in this article are great places to begin your journey to becoming an essential part of the healthcare delivery team.


What Exactly Is the Goal of A 9-Month Medical Assistant Program?


The goal of 9-month medical assistant programs is to prepare competent medical assistants who possess cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills that make them effective in performing in entry-level medical assisting positions. In addition to the personal and professional traits students learn, these programs provide students with basic knowledge of content such as anatomy and physiology, patient care, and laboratory procedures often performed in medical facilities.


How Much Do 9-Month Medical Assistant Programs Cost?


Pursuing academic endeavors and earning a degree or certificate is one of the most important investments you can make in your future. Planning for your career takes careful consideration, and you should weigh all your options before committing to a particular school or program. The best 9-month medical assistant programs average between $7,000 up to over $20,000.

The following are examples of program costs for some of the featured in this article.

Gateway Technical College offers a thirty-two-credit-hour medical assistant program with start dates in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Applicants can choose from the Elkhorn, Kenosha, and Racine campuses. The estimated program cost is $7,624. This cost includes $5,488 for tuition and fees and $2,136 for books and supplies.

College of Health Care Professions, whose home campus is in Fort Worth, Texas, offers an online 9-month medical assistant program at nine of its campuses. The 2021 cost of tuition and fees for the program are $17,300.

Northwest Career College has options for Medical Administrative Assistant and Medical Assistant programs. Both programs cost an average of $14,499, including tuition, education materials, reference materials, and the expense of the certification exam.

Southeastern Technical Institute calculates tuition for state residents and non-residents differently. Tuition for state residents is $6,000, and out-of-state students is $10,000. Other fees that students are assessed include $825 for books, $970 for program and student fees, and $100 for uniforms and equipment. With all these totals calculated together, the program averages $7,895 to $11,895, depending on where a student resides.

San Joaquin Valley College is a private career college whose goal is to make it possible for people from all backgrounds to get “the high-quality education they need to advance their careers.” The 9-month medical assistant program here costs $18,526.


Coursework


While it is common to see some variation in coursework offered, most medical assistant programs share standard core requirements. Per guidelines designed by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs all accredited 9-month medical assistant programs "must ensure achievement of Entry-Level Competencies for the Medical Assistant." The CAAHEP indicates that the curriculum should include medical terminology, oral and written communication skills, anatomy and physiology, medical law and ethics, medical assistant administrative procedures, and medical assistant clinical procedures.

The curriculum for nine-month accredited medical assisting programs typically falls into two categories of coursework: Medical Assistant Administration and Medical Assistant Clinical Applications. The administrative classes include content that focuses on administrative office tasks. Clinical applications refer to any work performed by a medical assistant that involves hands-on patient care or services.

Coursework in the best 9-month medical assistant accredited programs is designed to help students develop the following skills.

◦ Perform administrative functions including bookkeeping, scheduling appointments, and processing insurance claims
◦ Demonstrate the ability to apply effective communication, professionalism, collaboration, and critical thinking
◦ Maintain medical equipment and supplies as it relates to medical care
◦ Prepare patients for medical examinations by healthcare professionals and assist, as needed
◦ Conduct diagnostic tests within the medical assistant’s scope of practice

The following are examples of coursework taught in some of the top programs featured in this article.

Carrington College offers medical assistant 9-month programs at sixteen locations throughout the United States, including California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The college offers both a medical assistant and an administrative medical assisting program. The Medical Assisting certificate program includes lectures, laboratory simulations, and an externship, including thirty-six semester credit hours or 750 contact hours.

Medical Assisting Sample Coursework:

◦ Medical Assistant Clinical Theory I, II, and III
◦ Medical Assistant Clinical Applications I, II, and III
◦ Medical Assistant Administration Theory I and II
◦ Medical Assistant Administration Applications I and II

Administrative Medical Assisting Sample Coursework:

◦ Anatomy & Physiology
◦ Medical Terminology
◦ Computer Operations
◦ Computer Office Applications
◦ Insurance Applications
◦ Health Care Office Procedures I and II
◦ Healthcare Office Procedures Applications I and II

Both study plans include a Career Development Seminar that involves thirty lecture hours and a 180-hour externship.

At American Career College, home of one of the best medical assistant 9-month programs, the curriculum is divided into modules. Information for each module builds upon the previous one, and the course ends with a 200-hour clinical externship that is arranged at an area healthcare facility.

Sample Coursework:

Introduction to Healthcare Professions: This is the first component of the medical assistant curriculum. Students learn the history of medicine, medical terminology, professional behaviors for healthcare workers, and ethical standards.
Medical Assistant Roles and Responsibilities: This module includes classes including legal responsibilities of physicians and healthcare providers, asepsis and sterile techniques, first aid and emergency procedures, and professional communication.
Clinical and Surgical Procedures: Students learn to identify basic structural components and functions of body systems and methods of aiding during minor medical procedures.
Medical Office Business Procedures: This course is designed to help students develop an understanding of billing methods, collecting payments, and banking procedures associated with the medical office. Additionally, students learn to schedule communication and proper telephone etiquette when speaking with clients and other healthcare service providers.

Pima Medical Institute offers a thirty-four credit 9-month medical assistant program designed to help students gain the necessary skills to perform as competent medical assistants alongside other healthcare providers. The program consists of 800 clock hours, 200 of which involve a hands-on clinical externship.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Examination Techniques
◦ Clinical Aspects of Coding and Billing
◦ Communication
◦ Medical Law and Ethics
◦ Pharmacology

Graduates of the medical assistant 9-month program at Rasmussen College understand basic medical skills and knowledge needed to perform the role of a medical assistant. Students are taught the value of effective communication, patient privacy, and professional behaviors within the healthcare environment. This 9-month certificate program includes thirty-eight to forty credit hours.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Pathway to Patient Care Seminar
◦ Foundations of Medical Administration
◦ Technology Today for Medical Administration
◦ Medical Terminology
◦ Healthcare Administrative Office Procedures

PCI Health Training Center offers an in-depth, comprehensive medical assistant 9-month program that prepares students to fill clinical and administrative roles in various healthcare settings. The curriculum involves online training that provides flexibility and virtual instruction, allowing students to complete coursework on their own schedules and a 200-hour externship.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Phlebotomy
◦ Medical Billing (including the use of MediSoft software programs)
◦ Medical Office Skills
◦ Pharmacology
◦ EKG
◦ Effective Communication for Healthcare Professionals


Hands-On Clinical Experience


9-month medical assistant programs typically involve a curriculum that includes a mix of theory, laboratory simulations or skills checkoffs, and hands-on clinical experiences known as externships. Although schools can determine the number of clinical hours students in their programs must complete, most medical assistant programs require between 120 and 300 supervised clinical hours.

The following are examples of hands-on clinical training at some our featured programs.

Concorde Career College offers a 9-month medical assistant online program at all sixteen of its campuses. The program uses real-world coursework designed to immerse students in realistic aspects of a fast-paced healthcare environment. Students are involved in hands-on classes and externships throughout most of the program, which offer comprehensive training to help prepare students to act in clinical and administrative medical assistant roles in various healthcare settings. All students must complete an externship as part of their Medical Assistant training at Concorde Career College. The externship includes at least 220 hours of hands-on clinical training under the supervision of an experienced medical assistant or other healthcare providers.

The medical assistant program at Unitek College is among the best 9-month medical assistant programs we have found. Unitek's medical assistant curriculum focuses on both clinical and administrative skills. It includes instruction in medical office procedures, clinical medical procedures, medical terminology, and anatomy and physiology. Students learn through virtual instruction, hands-on lab exercises, and a supervised clinical externship. The clinical training is 165 clock hours, five of which are earned through a career prep seminar with the student’s advisor.

At Remington College, the objective of the medical assistant diploma program is to prepare graduates for medical assistant positions in clinical or administrative roles, including medical billing, laboratory technicians, medical receptions, or clinic technicians. The program, one of our featured 9-month medical assistant programs, is divided into nine monthly academic modules. The first eight months/modules consist of classroom and laboratory instruction. The final month involves a clinical externship period. Students must complete the first eight months of academic preparation with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 to be eligible to proceed to the externship portion of the program.

Dawn Career Institute’s thirty-six-week medical assistant program offers students exposure to the fast-paced medical environment that requires qualified medical assistants to run smoothly. Students learn the importance of multi-tasking and effective communication to be a professional medical assistant. The program includes classroom work, sixty hours of lab practice, and a 160-hour externship.

Allen School of Health Sciences believes that, while students can learn a lot in a classroom setting, the experience of hands-on learning is invaluable. At the Allen School of Health Sciences, after completing the portion of the curriculum that includes theory and skills, medical assistant students participate in a 275-hour externship in designated healthcare facilities. The outline of the practicum is designed to reflect all aspects of medical assistant work. Students work closely with an externship supervisor who offers support and guidance to help prepare them for independent medical assistant work.


Admission Requirements


Schools that offer accredited medical assistant 9-month programs determine the admission criteria for each of their programs. While there may be some differences, general admission guidelines are similar from school to school. Most of the best 9-month medical assistant programs require applicants to meet the following admission criteria.

◦ Possess a high school diploma or GED
◦ Pass a criminal background check
◦ Pass a drug test
◦ Participate in a personal interview with a member of the admissions team or program faculty


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

Community Care College offers one of our featured online 9-month medical assistant programs. Program faculty understand the importance of medical assistants having well-rounded experiences with both administrative and clinical skills. The college prepares students to help them pursue various medical assistant careers in physician's offices, urgent care clinics, specialty practices, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare facilities.

Admission Criteria:

◦ High School Diploma, GED, or equivalent
◦ Attend a personal interview with program faculty
◦ Submit an admissions essay that details personal intent
◦ Have a computer with access to high-speed internet, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and audio capabilities
◦ Applicants must have entry-level computer skills

Midwest Technical Institute

Admission Criteria:

◦ Applicants must meet the standards of the Illinois Healthcare Worker Background Act
◦ Pass a criminal background check
◦ Submit proof of current required immunizations (Students who fail to provide valid proof of immunizations may not be allowed to attend classes until immunizations are complete.)

Brookline College combines classroom instruction with hands-on learning to provide students a well-rounded academic experience. With experienced instructors dedicated to helping students succeed, Brookline College offers one of the best medical assistant 9-month programs available.

Admission Criteria:

◦ Be at least 18 years old
◦ Possess a high school diploma or GED
◦ Pass a Scholastic Level Examination

Bay Area Medical Academy offers a 3-in-1 Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy Program. The program includes typical medical assistant coursework as well as phlebotomy and EKG technician training. Students who complete the program graduate with three certifications, increasing their marketability as qualified job candidates.

Admission Criteria:

◦ Graduate from high school or a higher-level academy
◦ Pass an English competency exam with a grade of at least 70%
◦ Provide official transcripts from high school, and any other schools attended
◦ Participate in an interview with an instructor from the medical assistant program


7 Things to Look for When Comparing 9-Month Medical Assistant Programs


If you have decided to become a medical assistant, it is essential for your success to pick the right program. Knowing what to look for can help you get a shortlist of schools you would like to attend and begin the application process. Here are seven things you should look for when comparing 9-month medical assistant programs.

1. Does the program offer a clinical externship? It is possible to learn a great deal of content from classwork and lectures. However, utilizing opportunities to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of an experienced medical assistant, healthcare provider, or program faculty is an excellent way to learn by doing.
2. Is financial aid available? If paying for education is a concern, you are not alone. Many would-be students postpone getting a certificate, diploma, or other post-secondary degrees because they fear they cannot afford one. However, there are options that can make the dream of becoming a medical assistant a reality. Many schools that offer 9-month medical assistant online programs have financial advisors to help applicants find a solution to funding their education. Some options may be scholarships, federal loans or grants, personal loans, or employer-sponsored education allowances.
3. What type of job do you want after you complete the program? Some sources say that there are two main types of medical assistants and others report there are three or more. For the most part, medical assistant jobs are classified as clinical or administrative, and many types of specialized medical assistant positions fall under these categories. Knowing the kind of work that most interests you will help you narrow your search as you compare the best 9-month medical assistant programs. For example, if you prefer to work in an office role, becoming an administrative medical assistant could be a good fit for you. On the other hand, if direct patient contact and performing clinical skills such as taking vital signs, drawing blood, or performing EKGs sound exciting, a clinical medical assistant may be the perfect role.
4. What experience does the program faculty have? If you want to learn to do karate, it is not likely that you will employ a swim instructor to teach you, right? The same idea can (and should) be applied to your choice of who will guide you to become a medical assistant. Learning institutions may have different criteria to be an eligible medical assistant instructor. As you compare programs, it is essential to ask about the program faculty. You want to know what level of education they have and how long they have practiced. One positive sign is finding a program whose faculty are actively employed in a medical assisting role. You are paying for your education, and you deserve the best you can find.
5. Does the school offer job placement services? Some schools that offer medical assistant 9-month programs provide job placement services. Although you may not decline an invitation to apply to a school that does not offer job placement assistance, the service can be beneficial. If a school has career placement professionals, talk with them and ask their process for job placement services. These professionals usually have relationships with healthcare facilities that hire medical assistants and can be an asset as you begin to network and search for a job.
6. Do you meet the minimum admission requirements? Admission criteria vary from one school or program to another. As mentioned in a previous section, general standards for admission include having a high school diploma or GED, passing a criminal background check and drug test, and being a certain age. Some schools require applicants to pass a physical examination that documents they are mentally and physically capable of performing the duties of a medical assistant. Other schools may require prospective students to take an entrance exam to prove basic English, math, or comprehension. Verifying admission criteria and making sure you have met the requirements can save you time and frustration later.
7. Last but certainly not least, is the program accredited? Although certification is not a legal requirement for medical assistants, many employers will not extend employment offers to medical assistants who are not certified. If you plan to seek certification as a medical assistant, attending an accredited program is vital. Accredited 9-month medical assistant programs are a great way to earn a quality education in a short amount of time.



FOLLOWING ARE THE 25 BEST 9-MONTH MEDICAL ASSISTANT PROGRAMS (ONLINE & CAMPUS) FOR 2021

(These 9-month medical assisting programs are ideal for individuals who wish complete their medical assisting training in 9 months.)

1. Carrington College - San Jose, CA (Campus)

Locations: Medical Assisting: Albuquerque (NM), Boise (ID), Citrus Heights (CA), Las Vegas (NV), Mesa(AZ), Phoenix (AZ), Glendale Learning Center (AZ), Pleasant Hill (CA),Portland (OR), Reno (NV), Sacramento (CA), San Jose (CA), San Leandro (CA),Spokane (WA), Stockton (CA), and Tucson (AZ)

Medical Administrative Assistant: Sacramento (CA) and Stockton (CA)

Program Type: Medical Assisting (Certificate) and Medical Administrative Assistant (Certificate)



2. American Career College - Los Angeles, CA (Online)

Locations: Orange County, Los Angeles, and Ontario

Program Type: Diploma



3. Community Care College - Tulsa, OK (Online)

Location: Tulsa

Program Type: Diploma



4. Gateway Technical College - Elkhorn, WI (Campus)

Locations: Elkhorn, Kenosha, and Racine

Program Type: Diploma



5. Pima Medical Institute - Phoenix, AZ (Online)

Locations: East Valley, Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson (AZ), Chula Vista, San Marcos (CA), Aurora, Colorado Springs, Denver (CO), Las Vegas (NV), Albuquerque (NM), ElPaso, Houston, San Antonio (TX), Renton, and Seattle (WA)

Program Type: Certificate



6. Midwest Technical Institute - East Peoria, IL (Campus)

Locations: Springfield, East Peoria, Moline (IL), and Springfield (MO)

Program Type: Diploma



7. Rasmussen College - Overland Park, KS (Online)

Location: Overland Park

Program Type: Certificate



8. The College of Health Care Professions - Fort Worth, TX (Online)

Locations: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston - Med Center, Houston - Northwest,Houston - Southwest, McAllen, San Antonio - North, and San Antonio - South

Program Type: Certificate



9. Brookline College - Tucson, AZ (Campus)

Locations: Tucson (AZ),Albuquerque (NM),Phoenix (AZ), andTempe (AZ)

Program Type: Diploma



10. Northwest Career College - Las Vegas, NV (Online)

Location: Las Vegas

Program Type: Medical Administrative Assistant and Medical Assistant (Diploma)



11. Southeastern Technical Institute - South Easton, MA (Campus)

Location: South Easton

Program Type: Certificate



12. San Joaquin Valley College - Visalia, CA (Online)

Locations: Antelope Valley (Lancaster), Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto (Salida),Ontario, Rancho Mirage, Santa Maria, Temecula, Victor Valley (Hesperia),and Visalia

Program Type: Certificate



13. Concorde Career College - North Hollywood, CA (Campus)

Locations: Garden Grove (CA), North Hollywood (CA), San Bernardino (CA), San Diego(CA), Aurora (CO), Miramar (FL), Orlando (FL), Tampa (FL), Jacksonville(FL), Kansas City (MO), Portland (OR), Dallas (TX), Grand Prairie (TX), andSan Antonio (TX)

Program Type: Diploma



14. Unitek College - Fremont, CA (Online)

Locations: Bakersfield (CA), Concord (CA), Fremont (CA), Hayward (CA), Reno (NV), Sacramento (CA), San Jose (CA), and South San Francisco (CA)

Program Type: Diploma



15. Remington College - Mobile, AL (Online)

Locations: Online, Baton Rouge (LA), Cleveland (OH), Dallas (TX), Fort Worth (TX), Greenspoint (TX North Houston), Lafayette (LA), Memphis (TN), Mobile (AL), Nashville (TN), Webster (TX North Houston Satellite), and Shreveport (LA)

Program Type: Diploma



16. PCI Health Training Center - Dallas, TX (Online)

Locations: Richardson (TX) and Dallas (TX)



17. Dawn Career Institute - Newark, DE (Online)

Location: Newark

Program Type: Diploma



18. Allen School - Phoenix, AZ (Campus)

Locations: Phoenix (AZ), Brooklyn (NY), and Jamaica (NY)

Program Type: Certificate



19. Bay Area Medical Academy - San Francisco, CA (Online)

Location: San Francisco



20. Blue Cliff College - Fayetteville, AR (Campus)

Locations: Alexandria (LA), Fayetteville (AR), Gulfport (MS), Houma (LA), Lafayette(LA), Metairie (LA), and Alexandria Online

Program Type: Diploma



21. Salina Area Technical College - Salina, KS (Campus)

Location: Salina

Program Type: Certificate



22. Milwaukee Career College - Milwaukee, WI (Campus)

Location: Milwaukee



23. Cambridge Junior College - Yuba City, CA (Online)

Location: Yuba City



24. Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts - San Mateo, CA (Online)

Locations: Concord (CA), Fresno (CA), Modesto (CA), Sacramento (CA), San Mateo (CA),and Van Nuys (CA)

Program Type: Certificate



25. Central Oklahoma College - Oklahoma City, OK (Campus)

Location: Oklahoma City



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Career Opportunities After Completing This Program


After completing medical assistant 9-month programs, graduates can work in various settings and perform a broad range of tasks. A few examples of areas of specialization and career opportunities for medical assistants include the following.

EKG/Cardiology Medical Assistant: Performs diagnostic tests, including stress tests and EKGs used to help doctors identify heart-related problems in their patients.
Ophthalmology Medical Assistant: Performs duties related to the care of the eyes, including helping ophthalmologists and optometrists with eye exams, eye treatments, administering eye medications, and performing diagnostic testing.
Geriatric Medical Assistant: May work in long-term care or assisted living facility, senior daycare centers, or physicians' offices; tasks may include taking vital signs, scheduling appointments, or assisting with examinations.
Administrative Medical Assistant: Typically performs clerical duties and handle various office tasks in hospitals, clinics, private practices, and other healthcare facilities.


How Much Can You Earn?


Graduates of accredited 9-month medical assistant programs typically earn an entry-level salary of $30,000. As with most professions, some factors may impact a medical assistant's earning potential. Areas that are underserved by healthcare professionals may offer higher salaries to attract medical assistants. Cost of living is also a factor that influences income. Typically, the more it costs to live in an area, the more money jobs offer. As evidenced in the chart below, the longer you work as a medical assistant, the more money you can make. For example, with five to nine years of experience, medical assistants can make nearly $6,000 a year more than new graduates.

Level of ExperiencePer HourPer MonthPer Year
Starting (Entry-Level)$13.74$2,550$30,620
1-4 Years of Experience$14.69$2,730$32,730
5-9 Years of Experience$16.16$3,000$36,010
10-19 Years of Experience$17.07$3,170$38,040
20 Years or More Experience$17.85$3,320$39,780
(Source: Payscale.com)


Job Outlook for Graduates of This Program


Advancements in medical procedures and preventive health, the overall population living longer lives, and increased options healthcare services and treatment options are all factors believed to contribute to the growth of the medical profession. Individuals who work as medical assistants can benefit from the growth in the healthcare industry. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates of accredited medical assistant 9-month programs can expect to see an increase in employment opportunities by at least nineteen percent from 2019 to 2029. With this estimated growth in jobs, the outlook for qualified medical assistants appears promising.


The Bottomline


With anticipated growth in job opportunities, steady earning potential, and many areas to work in, becoming a medical assistant has several perks. Whether you have always wanted to work in the medical field, or this is a new career interest, the best 9-month medical assistant programs for 2021 featured in this article offer excellent options to achieve that goal.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


After graduating from a 9-month medical assistant program, do medical assistants need to take continuing education courses?

Medical assistants must have continuing education to maintain certification. Some certification requirements can be met by maintaining employment in the medical field and participating in recognized programs at your place of work. Be sure to speak with your supervisor or department head to make sure any education courses offered are eligible to be submitted for recertification.

Is it hard for graduates of medical assistant 9-month programs to find a job?

The availability of medical assistant jobs varies depending on location and the need for qualified healthcare workers. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities for medical assistants are expected to increase by at least nineteen percent through 2029, which means finding employment may be more accessible.


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.