Considerations in Distance Education for the Medical Assistant Instructor

Distance learning for medical assistants is evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of students in the 21st century. The St. Augustine Medical Assistant School’s distance learning program for medical assistants provides a good model for this integration of technology and medical assistant education. Distance learning, particularly in its most recent form, online instruction, is being integrated into even the most cautious and conservative educational institutions. However, the impact of these alternative forms of teaching and learning on students, faculty, and institutions has yet to be explored extensively or in depth. New models like that of the St. Augustine Medical Assistant School are emerging. St. Augustine Medical Assistant School is available at: http://www.medicalassistant.us

Distance learning is not new and can be traced back to the first century. The apostle Paul wrote to the early Christian churches and taught them from afar (even while he was under “house arrest” in Rome). This was probably the first type of “correspondence course”, which was the only method of distance learning until the advent of the telephone. Today, distance education, and in particular online medical assistant training, draws on an impressive array of technologies to enable the physician assistant trainer and the physician assistant student, separated by distance, either in real-time (synchronous) or staggered ( asynchronously) to communicate with each other). Current and asynchronous model used at St. Augustine Medical Assistant School to teach medical assistant students. This has proven to be a very effective model, however, the medical assistant program is currently investigating the benefits of synchronous online medical assistant education and the benefits it can bring to the medical assistant student.

Distance learning for medical assistants embodies the move away from institute-based learning to a more direct, student-centered approach. As a concept, distance learning has existed for over a century, particularly in the form of paper-based correspondence courses, including the less formal distance education for medical assistants. Now, however, the success of distance learning increasingly depends on technology, and technological innovations are keeping distance learning for the medical assistant evolving and growing as a valid and powerful force in all forms of medical assistant education.

The mission of Distance Physician Assistant Learning is therefore to prevent these problems as much as possible by mixing and matching techniques, creating and maintaining a stimulating environment, and providing opportunities for Physician Assistant students to interact with each other and with the Physician Assistant teachers to communicate regularly. The trainers of the medical staff also have to change their traditional role. Many distance medical assistant students need a lot of social support, and distance medical assistant teachers may spend more time providing one-to-one classes and less time lecturing. St. Augustine Medical Assistant School is at the forefront of today’s technology in medical assistant education.

When designing training systems and materials for distance learning medical assistants, the medical assistant teacher must consider not only learning outcomes, but also key requirements and technical limitations for the medical assistant. The needs, characteristics and individual differences of both the students and the teachers and future medical assistants must also be taken into account.

The doctor’s assistant distance learning course to become a doctor’s assistant should therefore not be seen as a means of reducing costs, but rather as an opportunity to increase quality. It is also about providing quality medical assistant learning opportunities for those who, for one reason or another, have previously been excluded from this basic human right. Distance medical assistant training is fast becoming the norm, not the exception, for the 21st century medical assistant. The St. Augustine Medical Assistant School distance learning program for medical assistants provides a good model for this integration of technology and medical assistant education. The St. Augustine Medical Assistant Model can be viewed at: www.medicalassistant.us.

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