The decision to study to become a medical assistant can lead you to a very rewarding career. Medical assistants are an invaluable resource in many physicians’ offices across the country. Healthcare is constantly evolving and therefore those with medical assistant training are always in demand.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are presently 800,000 doctors practicing medicine in the United States. There are an estimated 500,000 medical assistant employed by these doctors. If you do the math you will quickly ascertain that there are not enough medical assistants to go around. This is a field in the area of medicine that is expected to grow tremendously in the next 10 years. In fact, from 2002 until 2012, the position of medical assistant is expected to be one of the fastest growing of all careers.
Before you begin in-depth research over the net to find medical assistant schools and medical assistant colleges, here are some significant points of notes for those considering a career as a medical assistant:
The Work of a Medical Assistant
The career of a medical assistant is challenging and demanding but can be very rewarding, as previously mentioned. Medical assistants are responsible for any number of routine clinical and clerical duties such as keeping medical documents safe. When employed in small offices, medical assistants practically run the entire office. In small medical practices, medical assistants are often referred to as “generalists” who have both administrative and medical duties. The medical assistant reports directly to the doctor or to the office manager. On the other hand, in larger offices medical assistants most often specialize in one area of the practice or another and are supervised by the administrator of the given department.
Medical assistants can find employment in the offices of physicians, as well as other medical professionals including chiropractors, massage therapists, ophthalmologists, podiatrists, etc. Many choose to specialize in a discipline of the medical field.
It is important to note that a medical assistant is not the same as a physician’s assistant. Those who work as physician’s assistants work closely under the supervision of a doctor. This job involves examining patients, as well as helping in the diagnosing and treatment of patients.
It is essential that a medical assistant have superior organizational skills as well as strong customer service skills. The ability to communicate effectively and to problem solve is very important but it is not always stressed as much as it should be in the medical assistant training. Medical assistants are often the thread that connects patients to the medical professionals and therefore need to be able to talk and help in any situation that arises.
Some of the administrative duties that a medical assistant might be required to do include greeting and signing in patients, answering the telephone, handling medical correspondence, and making sure that medical records are updated as necessary. They might also have to fill out insurance forms for patients, book appointments, manage the billing of medical services to patients, set up admissions to the hospital, as well as set up work to be done in the laboratory.
The laws governing medical assistants are different from state to state and therefore so are the clinical duties assigned to them. In general, a medical assistant can perform any number of tasks of this type such as going over a patient’s history with them, checking vital signs, helping both patients and doctors with medical exams, and discussing various treatment options with patients. Medical assistants may also conduct lab tests of a very general nature, sanitize medical supplies, get rid of used materials, and prepare lab specimens from the doctor’s office.
Part of a medical assistant’s job is to teach patients about the treatments they require and how this can play a role in their lifestyle choices and eating habits. They may prepare medications for patients and then administer the medications themselves, as well as write up prescriptions for medication refills under the close supervision of a doctor. Medical assistants are able to ready patients to have x-rays, and they are capable of taking electrocardiograms. They are also able to take blood from patients, adjust dressings as required, and remove sutures.
Medical Assistant Training and Education
If you wish to train to become a medical assistant you must complete a one or two year program at an accredited medical assistant college or a school that offers the medical assistant training program. At the end of the medical assistant training an associate’s degree or certificate is obtained.
In order to enroll in a medical assistant school, you must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Medical assistant classes will take place in a medical assistant college because there is lab work to be done but some schools do offer some courses that can be taken online. To take medical assistant training it helps if your strengths lie in mathematics and sciences and that you did well in these subjects in high school.
The medical assistant training will involve courses in clinical procedures, laboratory techniques, medical office procedures, as well as medical terminology. Besides learning the medical terminology for the occupation, it is essential that medical assistants develop the interpersonal skills in order to learn how to best communicate with patients and medical personnel alike. It helps to be a people person if you wish to pursue a career as a medical assistant. Online medical assistant training opportunities are available as well
Outlook for Employment – Medical Assistants
In 2006, there were 417,000 medical assistants across the nation working in physician’s medical practices. An estimated 148,000 jobs for medical assistants are expected to need to be filled through the year 2016 due to the many technological advances that are being made in the medical field, as well as the increasing longevity of the population and the expanding needs of the healthcare system.
In order to advance as a medical assistant, you need to receive more training as well as a higher level of certification. It is not uncommon for those working as medical assistants to choose to further their studies in order to become nurses or pursue other specialties in the field of healthcare. Some medical assistants enjoy the administrative component of their job the most and choose to become administrative medical assistants. From there they can apply for a position as office manager.
There are some online medical assistant training programs that offer certification and are well suited to those already in the profession who are interested in being promoted or who wish to learn more in order to open the door to a wider array of medical assistant positions. Still other medical assistants might look to online education at a medical assistant school in order to keep abreast of new developments in the medical field and to learn about new technologies being developed.
The Salary of Medical Assistants
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year 2007 medical assistants earned yearly earnings of $28,270. The highest paying of all of the medical assistant positions were those at state government facilities. Here the average annual salary for a medical assistant was $36,430.