Medical Assisting

Medical Assistant Program: The Difference Between A Diploma And An Associates

If you’re looking into starting a career in the medical field and you’re not quite sure where you’d like to go, it can be hard to figure out where to start. The healthcare industry as a whole is on the rise, with aging populations and healthcare workers nearing the age of retirement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a growing number of aspiring healthcare workers are pursuing a career in medical assisting, with more than 634,400 medical assistants working worldwide and an additional 184,600 jobs expected to be added by 2026.

Medical assisting is an excellent career path for those who want to get a feel for the medical industry without the substantial time and financial commitment that comes with a nursing program or a specialized degree. However, you may have questions about medical assisting programs, for instance, why is a diploma offered before an associates degree, and which is the right path for you.

Medical Assisting Diploma

Medical assisting diplomas are a great way to get started in the medical field without years of schooling, not to mention the cost of tuition. In as little as 10 months, students are able to earn their diploma with plenty of hands-on experience to get them comfortable before entering the field. At Eagle Gate College, this 10-month program is offered to students who are eager to enter the medical field and may not want to wait to earn a medical assistant associates before being able to work as a medical assistant.

During the 10-month program, students won’t just learn in a classroom, but they’ll also experience hands-on learning to get the skills required to assist patients and physicians in a real medical setting. Along with taking vital signs, conducting lab work, and suturing wounds, students at Eagle Gate College are also taught front office skills—such as scheduling appointments, billing, coding, and working with insurances—that make them more marketable to employers when it is time for them to enter the career field.

Before students are able to graduate with their diploma, students at Eagle Gate College must pass their CMA certification exam—which is a standard requirement for all medical assistants—as well as complete a 180-hour externship at a doctor’s office or clinic. This externship opportunity allows students to get a real feel for the day-to-day duties they can expect when they enter the career field as a medical assistant. Under supervision from an office manager or senior staff member, the student will be able to put the skills they learned into action in a real office setting.

Medical Assisting Associates

An associates degree in medical assisting is a natural first step after completing your medical assisting diploma. Although an associates is not required before you can enter the field, it can help you with growing in the field if you’d like to one day become a medical office manager or front office manager.

After completing the 10-month medical assisting diploma, graduated students are able to join the field right away. Students who desire to further their education with an associates degree in medical assisting can choose to complete their degree in as little as 6 months—or 16 months if they do not have a medical assisting diploma. What’s better is that, at Eagle Gate College, our medical assisting associates program is offered online, meaning students can continue to work—either as a medical assistant or in their current career—while they complete their degree.

Whether you choose to earn a medical assisting diploma first or go straight for the associates degree, both will be sufficient to getting you into the medical field. At Eagle Gate College, we know our students are eager and excited to start their new career as soon as possible; to help aid this, we offer 10-month medical assisting diplomas to get students to where they want to go quickly and offer programs to help them excel in their career once they’ve entered the career field.

If you’re interested in getting started on your career as a medical assistant, contact us today to see how to get started. Whether you choose a 10-month medical assisting diploma program, or a 16-month medical assisting associates, you’ll be able to enter a rewarding career that you love in just a short amount of time.