Medical Assistant Diploma: A Comprehensive Guide

Though nurses and doctors receive the most recognition, medical assistants play a critical role in the healthcare system. They are an indispensable part of the healthcare team, helping physicians manage the increasing complexities of patient care and practice management, from an administrative and clinical perspective.

So, if you’re interested in pursuing a dynamic and fast-paced entry-level healthcare career, being a medical assistant may be a practical path.

In this guide, we will explore the duties of a medical assistant, the necessary abilities, the prerequisites for pursuing a medical assistant diploma, and the possible career paths.

What is a medical assistant?

Medical assistants are cross-trained healthcare professionals who perform various administrative and clinical duties. They work closely with physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of patient care.

They play a critical role in the healthcare industry by helping to manage patient records, scheduling appointments, and assisting in patient care.

medical assistantssource:

What does a medical assistant do?

Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical duties, and their specific job responsibilities may vary depending on their healthcare setting.

Administrative duties

Medical assistants are responsible for managing the administrative tasks of a medical facility. They perform tasks like scheduling appointments, greeting patients, managing patient records, and handling insurance claims. Additionally, they may also be responsible for billing and coding tasks.

Essentially, they can manage front office functions and patient flow, i.e., tasks that would otherwise be carried out by receptionists, practice managers, nurses and physicians.

In fact, medical assistants are highly important in the day-to-day operation of medical clinics, so much so that many are hired exclusively in administrative front-office positions.

Furthermore, in medical facilities with nurse managers, medical assistants can receive additional supervision coordinated to maximise workflow, thus maximising the productivity of the healthcare team.

Clinical duties

Medical assistants also play an important role in clinical settings. They are responsible for preparing patients for examinations, taking vital signs, and collecting and preparing laboratory specimens. They may also assist physicians with procedures, such as minor surgeries and other medical treatments.

However, medical assistants aren’t licensed to make independent medical assessments or advise patients. As such, physicians must carefully determine the skill level and capabilities of each medical assistant they supervise and consider liability risk and quality control when assigning them their tasks.

In some instances, medical assistants are also asked to prepare and administer medications to patients. However, there is a limit to what they can do when administering medication. For example, they cannot administer medications intravenously through an IV line.

Skills required to become a medical assistant

To become a successful medical assistant, one must possess several key skills.

Communication skills

Medical assistants must have excellent communication skills to communicate effectively with patients and healthcare providers. They must be able to explain medical procedures and treatment plans to patients and answer any questions.

Active listening skills

Medical assistants must listen actively to understand patients’ concerns and ensure they receive the necessary care.

Organisational skills

Medical assistants must be very organised and capable of juggling many responsibilities simultaneously. They ought to be able to maintain patient information, organise appointments, and handle administrative responsibilities.

Flexibility and Attention to Detail

Whether it’s scheduling appointments, performing lab procedures, preparing the exam room or administering medication, medical assistants are required to bring focus and attention to detail to every task requested of them.

They need to be flexible and highly adaptable to change to perform administrative and clinical duties that may differ unexpectedly daily.

Technical skills

Medical assistants must be familiar with medical terminology and have a basic understanding of medical procedures. They must also be proficient in using medical equipment such as blood pressure monitors, EKG machines, and nebulisers.

Furthermore, because medical assistants routinely encounter complex problems that require well-reasoned thoughts to resolve, critical thinking is necessary to make quick decisions on the fly.

Time management skills

Medical assistants must be able to manage their time effectively to ensure that patients receive timely care. In addition, they must be able to prioritise and ensure that administrative tasks do not interfere with patient care.

How can I become a medical assistant in Malaysia?

The formal training that medical assistants may receive varies, from several months of vocational school coursework to a 2-year associate’s degree program that might include short classes in math, anatomy, medical terminology and disease processes.

how to become a medical assistant

Generally, to become a medical assistant in Malaysia, one must pursue a Diploma in Medical Assistant from a recognised institution. The requirements for pursuing this course may vary depending on the institution, but typically, applicants must have a minimum of SPM or equivalent qualification.

Medical assistant diploma requirements

For the most part, to pursue a medical assistant diploma in Malaysia, applicants must meet the following requirements:

For Malaysians, a minimum SPM / GCE O Level / UEC, including:

  • 5 Credits, including Bahasa Melayu and Mathematics
  • A Credit in either one (1) any subject in Science/Biology/Chemistry/Physics/General Science/Applied Science
  • 2 Credits in any other subject
  • Pass in English and Biology

For International Students:

  • GCE O Level or equivalent
  • 5 Credits, including Mathematics
  • Credit in either one (1) any subject in Science/Biology/Chemistry/Physics/General Science/Applied Science
  • 3 Credits in any other subjects

English language requirements:

  • Local Student: Pass in English at SPM level or equivalent
  • International Student: Band 5.5 in IELTS; or a min score of 80 (IBT) or 515 (PBT) in TOEFL; or Cambridge English (160); or PTE Academic (51)

Additionally, some institutions may require applicants to pass an entrance examination or attend an interview before admission.

Medical assistant diploma cost

The cost of pursuing a medical assistant diploma in Malaysia varies depending on the institution. Fees can range from RM 10,000 to RM 50,000 for the entire program. However, many institutions offer financial aid or scholarships to eligible students, making the course more affordable.

What can I do with a medical assistant diploma?

A medical assistant diploma opens up various job opportunities in the healthcare industry. Medical assistants can work in hospitals, private clinics, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. They can also work as medical office assistants, clinical assistants, and administrative assistants.

Diploma in medical assistant salary

The salary of a medical assistant in Malaysia varies depending on their healthcare setting, their experience level, and other factors. However, according to Payscale, the average salary of a medical assistant in Malaysia is around RM 23,000 per year.

Is a medical assistant a doctor?

No, a medical assistant is not a doctor. Medical assistants typically work under the direct supervision of physicians and other healthcare providers to provide support in administrative and clinical duties. They do not diagnose medical conditions or prescribe medications.

Medical assistants can, however, perform procedures such as urinalysis, blood pressure checks, weight checks, electrocardiograms, venipuncture and injecting patients.

Medical assistant diploma vs certificate

A medical assistant diploma is a more comprehensive program covering administrative and clinical skills. On the other hand, a medical assistant certificate program focuses mainly on clinical skills. While both programs prepare students for entry-level positions as medical assistants, a diploma program provides a more well-rounded education that can lead to better job opportunities.

Certified medical assistant diploma in Malaysia

To become a certified medical assistant in Malaysia, one must pass a certification examination administered by the Malaysian Allied Health Professions Council (MAHPC).

The examination assesses the knowledge and skills required to work as a medical assistant. Students who have completed a medical assistant diploma program are eligible to sit for this certification examination.

UOW Malaysia’s Diploma in Medical Assistant program is accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and recognised by the Ministry of Health Malaysia.

The program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to work as medical assistants in various healthcare settings. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the MAHPC certification examination.


A medical assistant diploma is an excellent option for science-based individuals interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare industry as it equips students with the right skills and knowledge to work as medical assistants in various healthcare settings.

To become a medical assistant, one can pursue a medical assistant diploma, a vocational training program that equips students with the necessary knowledge and skills to work as a medical assistant. The course duration varies from institution to institution. Still, it usually takes around 12 to 36 months, and students who complete this course are eligible to work in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and medical offices.

With the growing demand for healthcare services, the job prospects for medical assistants are excellent, and the salary is competitive. If you want to pursue a medical assistant diploma, contact UOW Malaysia today.


10 April 2023


Education and Career