How to Become a Medical Assistant

How to Become a Medical Assistant

With the rising cost of health care and the increasing demand for quality health services, physicians and hospitals rely heavily on qualified support staff, which include medical assistants. Medical assistants play a crucial role between physicians and patients trained to provide administrative and/or clinical tasks.

What does a medical assistant do?

Medical assistants (both certified and non-certified) provide a wide range of services to doctors, hospitals and clinics. Most work in doctor’s offices, with a smaller number in hospital or clinic settings, in both administrative and clinical capacities. Most perform general administrative or clinical duties, but some may have specializations.

Administrative medical assistant duties may include medical front and back office tasks, including setting appointments, managing telephones, updating client files, filing insurance forms and medical coding and billing.

Clinical medical assistant duties often include taking vital signs and medical histories, drawing blood, collecting specimens for laboratory testing, basic onsite laboratory testing, administering medications and shots, performing sterilization and disposal of instruments and supplies, removing or changing dressings, and assisting patients in understanding treatments, medication, or instructions from the physician.

What kind of training does a medical assistant need?

Although certification for medical assistants is not required, most employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants (CMAs). To obtain medical assistant certification, students must complete a program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Medical assistant programs generally take 1-2 years to complete and result in either a diploma or associate degree. During the program, medical assistant students learn administrative and clinical skills, as well as medical terminology, law and ethics. Medical assistant training students also gain hands-on experience through externships.

After program completion, medical assistant graduates may take the certification exam through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). On passing the exam, the CMA becomes nationally certified, which means that there is no need to certify when relocating to a different state. Recertification is required every 5 years. Click here to find out how to become a medical assistant.

What are the prospects for a career in medical assisting?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistant jobs will enjoy one of the fastest growth rates of any field. Medical assistant employment opportunities are expected to increase by an amazing 35% by 2016, which is significantly higher than other entry-level positions for this time period. The BLS also notes that certified medical assistant jobs will experience a greater increase in employment opportunities than their non-certified counterparts. (1) Click here for a list of programs to get your medical assistant degree or diploma online.

How much do medical assistants make?

Depending on geographical location, experience and the type of medical office or institution employed in, medical assistant salary can range between $23,000 and $34,000 per year. The median base salary for medical assistants across the United States is $26,500 to $29,700. (2)

The field of medical assisting is a rewarding career choice for people who love helping people. These trained professionals provide essential services that allow physicians to work more efficiently and patients to receive higher quality care. With expected employment growth rates, a medical assistant careers are solid entry-level medical field jobs. Click here to find online medical assistant programs.

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