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Medical Assisting

Top 8 Medical Assistant Instructor Lesson Plans for High School

September 20th, 2021 | 10 min. read

Bri Stauffer

Bri Stauffer

For nearly 10 years, Bri has focused on creating content to address the questions and concerns educators have about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the iCEV curriculum system.

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Doctors’ offices and clinics across the United States need skilled medical assistants to meet the needs of their patient.

 Students know this, which is why more of them have enrolled in health science courses to become medical assistants. If your program is like the others around the country, you’re growing – and quickly! 

And while you may have some ideas on how to start teaching medical assisting, planning weekly lessons is a whole different task from teaching a procedure to a new employee on the job.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many resources out there other than textbooks -- which are helpful learning tools, but using them to plan lessons is exhausting!

To help prepare your students for the workforce, we’ve put together a list of medical assistant instructor lesson plans that are sure to make your class run a lot more smoothly!

The 8 best medical assistant lesson ideas are:

  1. The role of a medical assistant
  2. Qualities of a medical assistant
  3. Body measurements
  4. Vital signs
  5. Introduction to phlebotomy
  6. Introduction to electrocardiography
  7. How to become a medical assistant
  8. Prepare your students for certification

Some of the lesson plan ideas listed here are more specific than others. This is because of the variety of duties a medical assistant performs, depending on the office where they work.

It’s better to cover all of your bases to ensure your students are ready for the workforce, no matter where they end up!

1. The Role of a Medical Assistant


To start, give your students some ideas about the roles and responsibilities they will face in the field.

This may seem like a basic lesson, but some of your students may not know the details of what being a medical assistant really entails!

You can start with an activity to get your students thinking. This will involve a bit of work by you up front, but it will keep your students engaged and working together.

Start by compiling a list of medical assistant duties. Then, make a list of duties that they don’t do.

Next, combine these two lists into one “master list,” randomly ordered. Once the master list is ready, print out a copy for each student.

During class, instruct your students to circle all of the duties they think apply to a medical assistant. After students have gone through the list on their own, have them work with a neighbor to compare what they circled.

After a few minutes, go through the list as a class while you explain which duties belong to a medical assistant and which do not.

This is a great time to share experiences from your own career. Using real-life examples will give your students context for how each duty works, which will lead to better understanding!

2. Qualities of a Medical Assistant


Now that your students have a handle on the responsibilities of a medical assistant, it’s time to talk about the other skills required to do the job well -- soft skills.

Because medical assistants work directly with patients for most of their duties, it’s crucial to teach soft skills to your students.

Start out by doing a short lecture on some of the most common skills and traits such as:

  • Being courteous and respectful
  • Having a positive attitude
  • Establishing rapport with patients
  • Using effective communication

As you talk about each of these skills, relate them to the duties of a medical assistant.

For example, you can discuss communication with patients or between two health care workers. Both are equally important, but the types of communication will differ depending on the situation.

To give your students even more insight about the importance of soft skills, include stories from your own time working in the health care industry.

Including real-world examples will bring these crucial skills to life!

3. Body Measurements


Now that you’ve given your students an overview of duties and soft skills, it’s time to get into the specifics.

Medical assistants are often responsible for greeting patients, taking them to a room, and recording the patient’s height, weight, etc.

Start this lesson by explaining the importance of taking these measurements and using them to help identify potential diseases or abnormalities in conjunction with a doctor’s findings. As you go over this information, pass around example height-weight charts so students can see healthy and unhealthy human proportions.

Use the charts to review normal height and weight ranges for different age groups and highlight variations that could be warning signs. You should also discuss common causes of abnormalities such as a nutritional deficiency or disease.

Perhaps the most important part of this lesson is not about how to take and record measurements, but how to interact with the patient while doing so.

Because height and weight are common social stigmas, it’s important for a medical assistant to always be respectful and provide privacy.

Give your students tips on how to remain respectful and sensitive, such as refraining from commenting about a patient’s height or weight and focusing on the numbers – not the person.

4. Vital Signs


In addition to recording height and weight, a medical assistant will take a patient’s vital signs.

These are the four essential vital signs that every medical assistant needs to know how to measure:

  1. Temperature
  2. Pulse
  3. Respiration
  4. Blood pressure

You can start this lesson by explaining each vital sign and why it’s important for a medical assistant to accurately record it.

Then, go more in-depth about the vital signs and the various methods of taking them.

You can also include information on:

  • Ways to take a patient’s temperature
  • Radial pulse versus apical pulse
  • Respiration rate, character, and rhythm
  • Systolic versus diastolic blood pressure

Once you’ve reviewed the information, hand out procedure checklists to your students to read on their own. As your students read through the procedures, demonstrate each one in front of the class.

By both reading and observing the procedures, your students will better retain the information. Encourage students to ask questions about the procedures while you do them.

If no one asks a question, you could bring up common questions previous students asked. This might answer a question for a student who was too afraid to speak up!

After you’ve thoroughly demonstrated the procedures, it’s time for your students to take a turn.

Instruct your students to break into groups of three. One student will represent the patient, one will be the medical assistant, and the third will observe.

After the “medical assistant” completes a procedure, everyone should switch roles, taking a turn in each position.

As this goes on, walk around the classroom giving tips for improvement as well as recognizing students who seem to have the skills down pat.

Overall, hands-on skills practice is key when learning any healthcare procedure, and measuring vital signs is no exception!

5. Introduction to Phlebotomy


Depending on where a medical assistant is working, they may perform additional duties such as taking a patient’s blood.

To ensure your students are ready for this possibility, make sure you include an introductory phlebotomy lesson.

Start by explaining different reasons a medical assistant may need to collect blood specimens from patients, such as hemoglobin tests and blood glucose tests.

Then transition to some more specific phlebotomy topics, such as:

  • Skin puncture versus venipuncture
  • Safety precautions when handling blood specimens
  • Patient comfort during the procedure

Depending on the layout of your syllabus, you can choose to get into the specifics of phlebotomy procedures, or just stick with the basics.

You can also discuss the differences between a medical assistant performing phlebotomy procedures and a full-time phlebotomist. 

No matter how in-depth you decide to get with your phlebotomy lesson, it’s key to always relate the information back to the medical assistant’s role.

6. Introduction to Electrocardiography


Similar to your phlebotomy introduction, a medical assistant may need to aid with electrocardiogram (EKG) procedures. You can prepare them for this by introducing your students to the basics of electrocardiography.

Give your students an overview of what electrocardiography is and what an EKG measures. It’s a great idea to show example EKG readings as you go over that information to give your students something to reference.

Once you’ve gone over the fundamentals of EKGs, explain a few scenarios that may lead to a medical assistant helping with an EKG procedure.

If you have room in your syllabus, you can get into more details about performing EKG procedures. But don’t fret if you don’t have the time -- this is completely optional, since you’ve given your students the fundamental knowledge on EKGs already.

You can even discuss why a medical assistant should know about EKGs and what an EKG specialist does every day.

Either way, always keep your information in the context of how a medical assistant is involved in the procedures!

7. How to Become a Medical Assistant


While knowing the on-the-job skills are important, your students can’t use those skills if they don’t know how to find a medical assistant job!

Your students need to understand where to find career opportunities, how to fulfill the requirements, and how they can obtain the credentials to earn the position.

Because requirements for becoming a medical assistant vary across the country, there’s no standard way to teach this lesson.

That’s why this is the perfect opportunity to have your students do an individual research activity!

Start by instructing students to research open job opportunities for medical assistants in your state.

If you have the resources available, students could complete this work in-class. Otherwise, assign this research as homework.

As part of their research, have students note specific job requirements and the credentials they’d need to apply.

After the research is complete, bring the class together to share their findings.

You can use this information to lead a class discussion on what it takes to become a medical assistant in your local area or state.

It’s also a great way to transition to a final lesson on medical assistant certifications!

8. Prepare Your Students for Certification


Discussing certifications is the perfect way to wrap up your medical assistant lessons. This part of your class will give your students a concrete goal to keep in their minds.

Because of this, it’s crucial to incorporate CCMA certification prep in your classroom.

The credentials to obtain a medical assistant job vary from state to state, and they can even vary among doctors’ offices depending on specialties.

Start out by talking about which certification or credential your students need to obtain. Knowing the ins-and-outs will help you create the best lessons for certification prep!

Now that you know the information, it’s time to get your students ready for certification!

Lessons for student certification are typically a version of reviewing the information learned throughout the course. But before you jump in, you should have a plan.

Start by passing out an overview document of what to expect with the exam, such as how the exam will be given and the types of skills they will need to demonstrate.

It’s a great idea to go over this information as a class. As you do, have students circle areas they feel they need to practice or review.

After the review, collect the papers and tally up the areas that most students circled. These are your starting points for lessons since you know spending time on them will help the most students.

Spend the rest of your class time leading up to the day of your students’ exam getting their skills (and confidence) up to par.

During this time, it’s a great idea to pair students up who have different strengths. That way, they can help each other grow their skills – and you don’t have to scramble to help every student individually!

Along with in-class prep, you’ll want to provide additional resources for your students to review on their own.

Some teachers will go the traditional route and get test prep materials for students to study, such as resources American Association of Medical Assistants.

Others will try different strategies like using digital curriculum and other instructional materials to do more than just teach to the test.

Go Even Further with Digital Curriculum

If you want to do more than hand your students a sample exam and wish them luck, digital curriculum could be exactly the tool you’re looking for.

Digital curriculum is an online system built to give you and your students flexibility to use it as needed. With Internet access, your students can access the system anytime, anywhere – meaning they can review the content whenever they need to.

And because its online, digital curriculum is regularly updated to keep up with the ever-changing health care industry. That means you can rest easy knowing your students are getting the most relevant information to study.

Read this article to get some ideas on how you can use digital curriculum to prep your students for the clinical medical assistant exam:

Learn 3 Ways to Improve Your CCMA Certification Rates >