Medical assistants are in high demand throughout the United States.
Whether they’re maintaining medical records or recording patient vitals, the versatility of a medical assistant is essential to every doctor’s office, private practice, clinic, and hospital.
As a result, more students are looking to become medical assistants to fill that need.
But those students need teachers. And medical assistant teachers are hard to find!
Fortunately, you can make a difference.
Do you want to teach the next generation of medical assistants? Are you trying to figure out how you can make that happen?
These are the six essential steps to start teaching medical assisting:
- Work as a medical assistant
- Remember what you wish you had known
- Learn how to teach
- Serve an area that's meaningful to you
- Get involved with the American Association of Medical Assistants
- Get a digital curriculum
These steps will show you exactly what you need to do from start to finish.
By the time you finish reading, you’ll be ready to start any class on the journey to becoming medical assistants!
1. Work as a Medical Assistant
The best way to teach medical assisting is to experience it for yourself.
In career and technical education, most instructors have real-world experience with the subject that they teach. This is especially true in health science, where health care professionals bring their experience to the front of the classroom.
The best teachers for medical assistant classes are the individuals who have worked in the field.
The longer you work, the more qualified you are to teach!
It’s important to note that experience alone won’t start your career as a medical assistant teacher. Still, it’ll give you a competitive edge in the hiring process, and it’ll give you a solid starting point when you start teaching.
But what do you do when you get that itch to start teaching? How do you go from working in the industry to leading a classroom?
2. Remember What You Wish You Had Known
In medical assisting, students always want to know what you wish you would’ve known when you started your career.
If you’re just starting your medical assistant career now, you can keep a journal of all the information you had to learn the hard way to prepare your students.
If you’re looking to go into teaching right now, think back on the most meaningful experiences you had as a medical assistant.
What were they? What did you learn? Most importantly, how did you learn them?
These experiential stories are the cornerstones of education. They engage students intellectually since you’re talking about real medical assisting situations. You also connect with students emotionally by talking about what you learned the hard way.
On top of that, you’re proving to your students that you earned your position as a medical assisting teacher.
You walked a long, meaningful journey to get to this point in your career.
When students understand that, you become a powerful authority in the classroom. You may even become a role model to some of your students!
Even so, experience can only take you so far in teaching.
So if you want to become a teacher, how do you make sure you’re actually helping your students?
3. Learn How to Teach
The science of teaching (pedagogy) is a robust, well-documented concept. While every student has unique needs and interests, lots of teaching strategies exist to help teachers in the classroom.
That includes new teachers like you.
While medical assisting classes tend to be diverse in terms of students, you can rely on some tried-and-true methods to kickstart your thought process as a teacher.
First, keep the class focused on students. It sounds ridiculous to say that, but many first-time teachers can rely too much on their experience in the field.
That leads to long, hard-to-follow stories that may lose students and prevent them from learning.
As you’re planning a new lesson, keep answering one question: “Will this help students learn?”
Second, show your passion. As an experienced medical assistant, it’s understandable that you have a vested interest in your success as a teacher.
Show students that passion. Connect with them emotionally. Remind them that medical assistants help keep health care facilities running smoothly.
This segues well into our next point as well – give your students a sense of purpose.
When students feel grounded in their roles as medical assistants, they’ll have an equal sense of responsibility.
Give them a vision of what it’s like to be a medical assistant. Share the good and bad that you know about, and most importantly, share why it was all worthwhile.
Next, experiment with teaching strategies. Blended learning, flipped learning, and other concepts are all great ways to shake up your classroom to earn better results.
Last, focus on what students will get from your class. Will they earn a certification? Will they move to the next class? How can you prepare them for both their long-term responsibilities and short-term challenges?
It’s important to emphasize that you should talk to other teachers as often as you can. Learn what they do and what you could use in your own classroom.
This can be hard for medical assisting teachers, though. There’s often only one health science instructor at a school, so it can be hard to find another teacher that runs classes similar to yours.
Still, they may have experiences to share with you the same way you share your experiences with students.
In a nutshell, becoming a teacher doesn’t mean you’re done learning.
In fact, you could do just as much learning as a teacher as a medical assistant!
4. Serve an Area That’s Meaningful to You
For many health science instructors, the most important part of their work is serving an area that means something to them.
That could mean moving back to their hometown to start a medical program. It could also mean going to an underserved area and lending a hand.
In some cases, it could even be a well-off area that has an established health science program with a need for more teachers.
You could always take the first opportunity you find to pursue your teaching passion, too. There’s nothing wrong with going to a completely random area to teach.
In fact, that can be meaningful for more adventurous medical assistant teachers, giving you the opportunity to move to a new area and then find meaning in it for yourself.
Regardless of where you choose to work, find meaning in the area. That sense of purpose is the perfect complement to your passions for teaching and health science, and it’ll especially help fuel you through the challenges of your first year teaching!
5. Get Involved with the American Association of Medical Assistants
With your background as a medical assistant, there’s a good chance you already belong to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
If you’ve never looked into them before, now is your chance!
The AAMA is a major proponent of continued education and certification in medical assisting. They help new graduates find their first career steps, offer memberships, and maintain state chapters throughout the United States.
(Note: Some states don’t have active chapters. Consult the AAMA chapter listing to find the one closest to you.)
In other words, the AAMA has almost everything you need to help your medical assistant students bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace.
Plus, the AAMA will get you in contact with other medical assistant teachers in your area. That networking will help you get ideas for lessons and teaching strategies, which you can mesh with your course syllabus.
That can be a big challenge, though.
Managing coursework and syllabi gets hard because of how detailed you have to be. That makes it a pain to do manually, especially by hand.
Not to mention, you could spend more than 10 hours every week working on course lessons and logistics every week — and you wouldn’t get paid for all that work!
Fortunately, there’s a solution. It’s possible for you to teach one of the best medical assistant courses in your state without sacrificing all of your free time.
The answer is a digital curriculum.
6. Get a Digital Curriculum
Almost every new health science instructor has the same complaint — planning takes too much time!
Lectures, assessments, hands-on practice, grading — it all takes hours of overtime to get it done right.
That’s where a digital curriculum helps.
A digital curriculum is designed with pre-made lessons and a huge range of customization options so you can save time and spend time as you need. It automatically grades and tracks students while empowering you to direct your classroom however you’d like.
Some teachers use a digital curriculum so well that they’re able to return to a 40 hour work week!
Best of all, the entire curriculum is located online. That means you (and your students) can access your curriculum anywhere with an Internet connection.
Whether you’re starting a class at 8:00 or it’s 3:00 on Thanksgiving morning, you have complete access to all of your classroom resources whenever you want them.
Most importantly, anyone can use a digital curriculum. If you’ve never used a computer before, you’ll be able to figure out how to use a digital curriculum. It just takes practice!
Thankfully, there’s a digital curriculum available specifically for health science instructors.
It’s called HealthCenter21.
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In fact, you can read about their experiences in their words.
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