What Is A Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are essentially admin workers who are also allowed to engage in certain clinical activities. They work in the offices of:
- Other health practitioners
In these settings they engage in administrative tasks such as taking calls and making appointments, as well as the all important task of maintaining patient records. The duties can vary significantly based on the size of the practice and the nature of the work that is done there.
Nature Of The Work/duties
Duties differ on a number of factors. For example if you specialize in a different area of medical assisting you will have different tasks. The main areas are:
- Administrative medical assistants
- Clinical medical assistants
- Ophthalmic medical assistants
- Podiatric medical assistants
However there are a few tasks that most medical assistants are required t perform. Medical assistants typically take patient history and measure vital signs, help the physician with patient examinations, give patient injections as directed by the physician, schedule patient appointments, and prepare blood for laboratory tests. These are tasks that are performed in practically any doctor’s office no matter what the doctor’s specialty is. An ability to learn these tasks, as well as an interest in performing them to the best of your ability will make your job as a medical assistant easier.
Medical Assistants are employed in many different healthcare facilities and capacities:
- Nursing homes
- Home health facilities
- Private practices
- Alongside physical therapists
- Alongside dentists
- Alongside radiologists
- Alongside pharmacist
- Alongside similar medical personnel
Because so little training is required to be a medical assistant you will only be employed to take everyday tasks that do not require extensive medical knowledge to complete. If you want to be employed in a more specialized area of medical assisting you may be required to take on some more education and engage in some more training programs. But if you have a basic set of skills you can be a medical assistant just about anywhere where such a person may be needed.
Medical Assistant Requirements
Being a medical assistant is not a profession because in order for it to be termed a profession you need to first complete a program that takes about 2 years. There are no such requirements for becoming a medical assistant. In fact it is possible to get a job as a medical assistant with no qualifications at all. Although this is not true for all medical assistant jobs you often do have to meet the following requirements before you can be hired:
- You must have a high school diploma or GED (although under certain circumstances some employers do not require this).
- You may have to meet a certain age requirement. For example there may be a limit set by a particular employer that you have to be 18 years or older in order to work there as a medical assistant.
In order to be a medical assistant you must have:
- Practical and theoretical skills
- Good decision-making abilities
- Good communication skills
- The ability to work in harmony with others
- The ability to use a combination of professional skills and kind behavior
- The ability to be reliable
- The ability to be dependable
- The ability to be thorough
- The ability to keep absence from work to a minimum
- The ability to be on time
- The ability to be able to work long hours on your feet
- The ability to be able to take initiative
Some of these skills can be learned over time but it helps to have a natural ability to display at least some of them.
It is best if you start focusing on becoming a nurse when you are in high school, if this is the path you are interested in. take subjects in:
The only education you need is to be able to demonstrate that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from that there are no other educational requirements. However, there are formal training programs that you can choose to take part in. This is recommended as you will stand a higher chance of being hired if you have formal training.
To get a certificate or diploma attend 1 year programs at:
- Community colleges
- Vocational schools
- Technical schools
For a two year associate’s degree:
- Some community and junior colleges
When it comes to being a medical assistant there are o licensure requirements because there is no special license that you can receive in order to say that you have the right to practice as a medical assistant. This is because there are no strict or formal training requirements needed. A large portion of the work is learned on the job and you will often find employers that will hire you with no training and no experience to your name, depending on how big the demand is for medical assistants at that point in time. However there are training programs that you can do which will make life easier for you in terms of finding a job. In addition there are national tests that you can take to back up your experience.
How To Become A Medical Assistant
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
There are plenty of opportunities for advancement in this line of work:
- You can become an office manager
- You can become expert in a variety of administrative duties
- You could teach Medical Assisting courses after a number of years of experience
- You could return to school for more education to become:
– A nurse
– A Medical Laboratory Technician
– A Medical Technologist
- You could enter into other health related occupations
- You could certify as a Phlebotomy Technician (the practice of drawing blood)
- You could certify as a Medical Administrative Specialist
All of these will require a lot of hard work and training, but they will also provide you with many more opportunities for employment in the always stable and reliable medical sector.
Source An Accredited Education Program
When deciding to become a medical assistant you need t remember that there are many programs out there but not all of them are accredited. If you attend a program that is not accredited you are wasting your time and money. There are two bodies that accredit medical assistant programs:
- The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- The Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
At the moment there are about 700 programs that are accredited by these agencies. Although it is not a requirement to get formal training for this line of work, you can be certain that it will improve your chances, and these 700 programs are the best places from which to get your training. Start your medical assistant training program search by enquiring with the two accrediting agencies mentioned.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
There is no associate’s degree to be earned as a medical assistant. This is because this line of work cannot really be deemed to be a profession because there is no mandatory training required. However after you have worked as a medical assistant for a while you may consider getting an associate’s degree in order to become a professional in anther domain, such as nursing. This would be a wise move and you would already have at least a cursory understanding of the medical profession to start off with. There are courses and programs that you can do in the field of medical assisting, but they are not deemed to be degrees and therefore you cannot find a school that will offer an associate’s degree in medical assisting. You must be aware, however, that there are other doors open to you.
Obtain Your Licensure
You do not need to have a license in order to be a medical assistant. There are a number of tests that you can take, but they are not required. However they will help in terms of finding a job as they will go a long way to proving that you have the skills needed for the job. In addition you may also need to perform specific tests for specific employers. These tests may not always be related to the role of a medical assistant but they may be there to test your general competency as a professional in that area. So you may need to take a health test in order to prove that you are in the bets health possible for doing your job as a medical assistant fairly well at all times and giving your best.
Online/Distance Education Programs
If you decide to do a medical assistant course there is no reason why you shouldn’t do one online. An online course has the following advantages:
- It allows you to work at your own speed and in your own time – you should always be able to find a way to fit it into your schedule.
- Online courses do, overall, tend t be cheaper, which means that you may stand a higher chance of being able to afford one.
- You can study from the comfort of your own home without having to travel or endure a daunting classroom situation.
Offline programs also have their advantages, but online programs are certainly a viable option if you want to get a medical assistant qualification rather than learning on the job.
This career comes with an excellent job outlook. Between 2010 and 2020 the number of people employed as medical assistants is expected to grow by 31%. This is, it must be noted, faster than the growth rate for any other occupation at this point in time. Essentially this means that your skills will always be in demand in doctor’s offices everywhere. The medical industry in general is a very stable one to become involved in, and it is with your time to get your foot in the door by becoming a medical assistant. This job requires no training (although it is advised), and once you are in the field you can work towards advancing your career in this industry which is one of the best industries to work in.
The median wage for a medical assistant is about $28,600 a year. Median means that about half the LVNs earn more than this and half earn below this amount.
- The lowest ten percent earn about $20,800 per year
- The highest ten percent earn about $40,200 per year
This job will require you to work fulltime and provide a high degree of attention and time. It is an intensive job, but because you will most likely end up working in a doctor’s office somewhere, your hours will be normal. You will not have to work night shifts, and often you may be given the weekend off, unlike nurses in a traditional hospital setting who are required to be there all the time. In a lot of ways the slightly lower salaries that medical assistants earn are made up for by the more convenient hours.
Although being a medical assistant is not considered to be a profession it is still an excellent line of work to become involved in. this is because it is part f the medical field and the medical field is one that is growing all the time and that will continue to grow for a long while to come. If you are looking for a job that comes with security as well as room for advancement once you have studied further, you should definitely look into being a medical assistant, especially as there is no training required and you can start working as soon as you find an employer who will hire you.