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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

How To Become a Medical Assistant Online

June 12, 2020
Young adult African American nurse or healthcare professional in hospital

If you are considering a career in the medical field, becoming a medical assistant is a great place to start. It has a good outlook for job growth, with options to begin work after completing your training or to further build your career.


Medical Assistants perform essential administrative (front office) and clinical (back office) work in medical offices, hospitals, and other specialty clinics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics*, as of May 2019, Medical Assistants earn a median wage of $16.73 an hour and have a faster rate of employment growth (23% between 2018-2028) than the average for all occupations. And because of a growing senior population, physicians are expected to hire more medical assistants to provide essential clinical and administrative help to their staff and patients.


How can you learn medical assisting online?


San Joaquin Valley College (SJVC) offers an online Certificate of Completion in as few as nine months and an Associate degree in as few as fifteen with their Clinical Medical Assisting and Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting programs.


The program includes an externship that provides enhanced learning and opportunities to develop in-field work experience. Students in both the Certificate and Associate degree programs complete a series of nine courses specific to the medical field.


“Many of the courses include virtual instruction and completion of clinical skills, using modern clinical simulation software,” explains Mary MercurioSantos, Instructional Designer at SJVC. “For example, students can learn how to draw blood, perform and interpret EKGs, and prepare for and assist with minor surgical procedures.”


Connecting virtually is more important than ever, and the online Clinical Medical Assisting and Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting programs utilize a variety of virtual formats for both Certificate and Associate Degree students.


“Students use video-based instruction, asynchronous discussions with classmates and faculty members within our eCourses, and hands-on experience during clinical simulations and externship,” Mary says. “In general, I think online learning is a wonderful option for students, especially those who need a flexible learning schedule, and who are, or can become, comfortable with the use of technology.”


Mary sees the importance of students advocating for themselves in online learning.


“Students need to proactively reach out to their course faculty members and the other students to ask questions, clarify points that are unclear, and discuss the course learning material,” Mary says. “Doing so will help them to learn and retain the information at a much deeper level.”


Where can you learn medical assisting online?


SJVC’s online programs offer flexibility, dynamic online technology, and support toward gaining the skills you need to become a valuable part of a medical team.


Students in these programs receive advanced training in medical office procedures and develop clinical medical assisting skills such as:


  • Drawing blood and measuring vitals
  • Assisting physicians with exams
  • Administering medications or injections, as appropriate
  • Entering patient information into their medical file
  • Preparing patients for exams


Students also learn administrative medical assisting skills, such as:


  • Patient charting
  • Billing, letter writing, and coding procedures for insurance
  • Software


Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Students also prepare for and take certification exams within their program courses that include HIPAA, CPR, and First Aid.


If you’re wondering whether learning online would work for you, SJVC offers a short online readiness quiz to help you decide.

What Support is Available to Online Clinical Medical Assisting Students at SJVC?

Online students have a strong support network at SJVC, including:

  • Regular communication with their instructors, who are available to help during course work and via email
  • Available technical support representatives to help them through any issues they have online
  • Regular contact with SJVC’s Admissions Representatives, who check in on students’ progress and offer personal support

In addition, students have the support of Career Services Advisors, whom they get to know throughout their time at SJVC. They are there to help students and alumni find the right job and are available to connect via phone or Facetime.



Career Choices—or Further Study

Program graduates have several choices for both career and education: Graduates are prepared to manage a medical office or work in a specialty outpatient clinic, with graduates of the Certificate program often beginning positions as Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians, Medical Assistants, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, or Medical Secretaries; they are also well-positioned to continue with an Associate Degree program in Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting. Likewise, graduates of the Associate Degree program are well-positioned to continue study with the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management program.

To learn more about the online Clinical Medical Assisting and Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting programs at SJVC, click here. (Link to:

Visit for important information on program outcomes.


Learn More About A Career In Medical Assisting

Whether you have always wanted to work in the medical field or you’re realizing a new passion for medicine, continue reading to learn more about what a medical assistant does, how to become one, how to choose a Medical Assisting program and California’s state-specific requirements for certification.

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