How To Become A Medical Assistant

How To Become A Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant Careers Are In Demand

It takes more than just doctors and nurses to staff an efficient medical office or hospital. The underlying support system of any good medical office is made up of well-trained Medical Assistants who have completed either a one or two year training course, depending upon their field of specialization. Most programs will culminate with an associate’s degree or in some cases a certificate. All potential assistants must have at least a GED or high school diploma. As in most fields, volunteer experience and the ability to speak a second language are a major plus when seeking job placement.

A sharp assistant will help to keep any doctor’s office, clinic or hospital running smoothly. There is a support organization for this group of health professionals called the American Association of Medical Assistants. It was founded in 1956 and it helps to set the standards now recognized by the medical industry for Medical Assistants nationwide. In addition, it provides certain certifications, testing and other services required by this group of professionals.

Medical Assistants Can Advance In Their Careers

You may wonder what duties a competent assistant will perform. They are the indispensable support system in any medical office, large or small. They handle clinical duties as well as administrative responsibilities. These health assistants must have strong organizational proficiency, a congenial personality and superb patient service skills. In the case of health professionals who primarily perform clinical duties, they will usually assist the RN on duty with such things as preparing patients for medical procedures, checking vital signs, changing dressings, and other such tasks on an “as needed” basis.

A career as a Medical Assistant can make a great stepping stone toward a future career as a Registered Nurse, a Licensed Vocational Nurse, a Physician Assistant, or even a Physician. This is a position that provides both income and experience while attending college or other training courses for medical career advancement. Medical Assistants are also found in urgent care facilities and clinics as well as ambulatory care centers convalescent hospitals and both public and private hospitals.

The Need For Medical Assistants Is Increasing

In the United States, in 2006, there were approximately 417,000 health care assistants domestically employed. In fact, career opportunities for this particular group have been projected to be growing faster than the average for other medical occupations through 2016. With the baby boomer generation growing older, more technological advances, and the healthcare industry on the rise, we can expect to see a higher demand for this particular career than ever before in all areas of medicine and healthcare. Detailed information about educational requirements, income expectations, and job opportunities are available online as well as from your local community colleges. Medical assistant positions are open to both men and women of any adult age.
What Is A Medical Assistant

What is a Medical Assistant?

You may have heard this line of profession from somewhere, perhaps from job hiring advertisements, from offered school programs, or perhaps a job of your acquaintances. Medical assisting is a growing profession today and a lot of health institutions demand for medical assistants. Medical assistants are flexible professionals that can be assigned in different areas performing different tasks in different environments. They are key people in the success of health care providers of diverse medical fields.

Medical Assistants Work In A Variety Of Settings

Wherever health facility you may go to, you will find medical assistants there. They are stationed in various settings, in hospitals, in clinics, in offices, in blood banks, in specialty centers, and anywhere else that provides health care. Because of their training and education that involves health care as well as lessons in administrative duties, their scope of practice is wide and open to great possibilities. Once you are hired as a medical assistant, expect yourself to be working in a doctor’s office answering phones, scheduling appointments, keeping and updating patient records, interact with insurance companies, and handling admissions in the hospitals. You will be working much like a secretary, but not just any secretary since you will be handling work involving medical-related tasks.

But that’s not all. If not in the office, you may find yourself assigned at the doctor’s side assisting him in various medical procedures. You will be able to do health histories, administer medications, prepare patients for their examinations, take specimens for laboratory tests, and monitor the patient’s vital signs. By being an aide, the doctor will be able to function more efficiently and more effectively, allowing him to provide better service to the patient.
The First Step To Become A Medical Assistant

The First Step Is To Attend An Accredited School

So how can you become a medical assistant? Like any profession, you need to enroll first to a school or institution that offers a one-year program that gives you certification. This is the minimal suggested training that is required to become a medical assistant. You can also choose to enroll to an accredited school for a two-year associate’s degree program. Having a degree would arguably increase your chances for greater job opportunities. After acquiring training, the next step would be to acquire certification by passing an examination provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). There are other organizations that also offer certification, but AAMA is usually considered the gold standard. However, you should know that you don’t really need certification to land on a job. But then again, having certification enables you to radiate your competency level as a professional and employers will easily see your value.

After passing the examination, consider yourself a proud medical assistant. You may opt for added credentials by specializing in a more specific medical field. This would be having you focus only on a certain advance line of work like phlebotomy, therapy, medical technology, among others. The possibility of specialization proves that medical assistants have the capacity to evolve in their ladder of career and acquire more knowledge in the world of health care.

Medical Assistant Vs Registered Nurse

There are some significant differences between medical assistants and Registered Nurses. There are also many similarities. At the entry level, all Registered Nurses must have an Associate Degree. Not all medical assistants are required to have an Associate Degree, although many do.Registered Nurses must pass the NCLEX in order to become licensed. Medical Assistants take the exam approved by the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants. In California, Registered Nurses are licensed by the Board of Registered Nursing. Medical assistants are certified by the Medical Board of California.

Differences Between Medical Assistants and Registered Nurses

Medical Assistant Vs Registered Nurse: Differences in Salary

As a general rule, Registered Nurses make more per hour than medical assistants. Nationwide, the average starting salary for Registered Nurses is $55,310 annually. For medical assistants, the average starting pay is $33,587. As you can see, the difference is dramatic. Because of this, many interested students decide to become a nurse as opposed to medical assisting.

What Does A Medical Assistant Do

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Medical assistants are on demand in various countries, especially in the United States, because of the increasing needs in the healthcare system. They are key persons in the success of physicians in treating their patients, as well as key persons in the management of the hospital itself. But what exactly does a medical assistant do? And what is the scope the activities that you, the medical assistant, are allowed to do and not allowed to do?

When you are hired as a medical assistant, whether you have undergone formal training or not, you are tasked with duties that vary greatly depending on the environment of the institution, your qualifications, and may even depend on what the doctor will instruct you to do. You as a medical assistant may either be placed in administrative duties or be in charged with clinical duties.

Medical Assistants Perform A Wide Variety Of Tasks

Administrative duties encompasses you answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, keeping patients’ files and records, accounting and billing, and managing hospital admissions. Any work done in the office which is medical-related may be done by medical assistants. You serve as the assistant in the doctor’s office. By staying in the office and doing the required work, you are more of a manager than a direct health care provider.

On the other hand, you as the medical assistant may also perform clinical tasks. This involves assisting the doctor directly in the treatments that the patient will undertake. Expect yourself to do vital signs taking, teaching the patient on health topics, giving medications, taking health histories, collecting laboratory specimens, preparing the patient for an examination and helping the doctor perform the examination on the patient. You may also be ordered by the doctor to do specific tasks only. In this side of the job, you will be doing more medically inclined activities.
Different Medical Assistant Specialties

Medical Assisting Has Many Different Specialties

Being a medical assistant does not end in these kinds of work. You may pursue higher education and enter specialization courses. Medical assistants may enroll in technical schools that offer specialization courses on dialysis, optometry, pediatric, medical technology, and many more. By acquiring certification or registration in these specializations, you may find your line of work more focused on specific advanced tasks or will revolve on specific human body systems such as the eyes, kidneys, heart, among others depending on specialization you chose.

The job of a medical assistant is varying and is open to a wide range of possibilities. You, being the medical assistant, have the capability to modify your own working environment and turn it into a dream job. You can work in the office, you can assist the doctor directly, or you can perform more advanced procedures. The nature of the job will mostly depend on you. Los Angeles County has one of the largest concentrations of Medical Assistant schools in the Country. Most medical assistant programs in Los Angeles can be completed in less than 1 year!

What Are Registered Medical Assistants?

Medical assistants in general have been trained to do a variety of tasks as aides to the hectic scenario in any health care facility. They can perform clinical procedures and administrative duties depending on the kind of facility they are working in, the services it provides as well as the size of the workload the other staff are carrying.

Medical assistants are valuable key players in the health care delivery system. Without them, doctors, nurses, administrators would have it harder in dealing with clients and the bulk of paper works to fill in and organize. Medical assistants are all-around professionals that can be placed at almost any setting and still provide services that are within the scope of their practice. But should medical assistants remain as so called reliever or assistant roles?

A Registered Medical Assistant May Command A Higher Salary

When a medical assistant graduates from a two-year associate’s degree program from an accredited school, they are instantly eligible to take certification or registration exams from various organizations such as the American Associations of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Upon passing the exam, the medical assistant earns the certification and the title of Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from AAMA or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) if they took the exam given by AMT.

Registration isn’t really an obligation for all medical assistants. However, it does open a path to higher employee outlook and with it higher job opportunities and higher salary rates. The title or credentials are given to exam passers as proof that their knowledge of the profession, its ethics and related laws and the concepts it grasps are of good standing. Employers easily hire registered medical assistants since they are proven to be equipped with good competency. However still, the certification isn’t for a lifetime. Registered medical assistants need to renew their certification every 60 months by either taking a recertification exam, or earn continuous education units through seminars and training given by accrediting organizations.
Registered Medical Assistants Can Command Higher Salaries

Registered Medical Assistants Are Able To Advance In Their Careers

Aside from the mandatory continuous education that provides a venue for registered medical assistants to grow, registration also allows them to widen their scope of practice. They are able to perform more advance procedures like handling x-rays and ultrasounds as per institution’s policy. After years of experience, registered medical assistants can climb their career ladder and advance to become office managers of clinics or hospitals or become clinical instructors and teach medical assisting courses. Some go back to school for more education to become nurses, physical therapists, and medical technologists and other allied health professions. Some medical assistants also take certification for being phlebotomists and medical administrative specialists.

Medical assistants are arguably excellent starting points for any student who dreams of working as a health care provider. They have high potentials in entering higher allied professions as they are trained with variety of skills valuable in the health care system.
Medical Office Assistants

Medical Office Assistants

Not all medical assistants are obliged to work within the vicinity of clinical practice, which involves doing direct patient care. If they choose to, certified medical assistants can work in offices to perform duties as medical office assistants. These are the type of medical assistants that prefer the office work over assisting physicians in clinical procedures.

Medical office assistants are not, for the record, any less important than clinical medical assistants. Just like the latter, medical office assistants are in demand for their skills in office work, which also involves having good communication skills, proficient computer work, bookkeeping and accounting among others. They are in charge of scheduling appointments, receiving patients for check-ups or admissions and helping them feel comfortable and secured while the doctor is being called. Doctors of various specialties, as well as health institutions are in need for good medical office assistants to help them manage their clinics and health care facilities, as well as their paper works during its daily challenges. The duties of medical office assistants depend on the size of the office, its location, the kind of patient cases it caters as well as the services it provides.

Medical Office Assistants Also Require Formal Training

If you plan to become a medical office assistant, like any other, you should take up an education program for medical assistants offered by accredited schools. There are two types of programs being offered: a one-year certification program and a two-year associate’s degree program. You can also apply for online training program if you prefer it more. The program will prepare you to enter employment as an office assistant, as medical receptionists, or basically as a medical secretary in different health care facilities. The course usually includes acquiring skills in office management, verbal and written communication, transcription, word processing, accounting and billing and more. The course also provides an overview of the anatomy and physiology of the human body, first aid and application of medical terminologies since you will be handling health problems of patients.

It is an advantage for any aspiring medical assistant to get an associate’s degree as degree holders from accredited schools are eligible for taking up certification exam offered by various organizations. Although not a requirement, having passed this examination and acquiring certification will provide proof of the medical assistant’s good competency in the work performance, and thus will open more job opportunities.

Medical office assistants start easy and simple, mostly doing reception or front desk assignments. However, as you climb the ladder of career and earn more experience, you can expect yourself to land on better career prospects and eventually you can even reach higher specialization jobs.

Medical Assisting Schools

If you’re an aspiring medical assistant, then you must have pondered which school to go to. There are numerous medical assistant schools across the country and many even with high reputations. But before you even pick a school to enroll in, you have to ensure that the medical assisting school is simply worth it.

There are many things to consider when deciding which school to enter. The school, first and foremost, should offer the medical assisting program. It may offer one-year certificate training or a two-year associate’s degree program. Depending on which kind of medical assistant program you need, you will know if the school is fit for you. While some schools are not accredited, accreditation is an important factor if you plan on taking the certification exam in the future. Accreditation ensures that the school’s teaching is in accord with specific educational standards.
Benefits Of Becoming A Medical Assistant

What Is A Medical Assistant Externship?

The program courses differ from school to school by some degree. By knowing exactly the kind of training it provides, if there will be externship opportunities and other related activities, you will be able to see the extensiveness of the program. Subjects usually include medical procedures, pharmacology, anatomy, first aid, medical terminology, and lessons in office management, word processing, computer works, accounting and billing. Some schools also offer introductory classes in phlebotomy, medical technology, administrative management and other advance courses that future medical assistants might find interest in. Therefore, you really need to research on the school you have your eyes on if you want to get the best education you need.

Another thing to look for is the cost for the education. The cost is usually dependent on the duration of the training, and whether it is for a certificate or a degree. Associate’s degree programs are typically more costly compared to acquiring only a certificate because the former would take around two years to complete while the latter can be finished within a year. But since expenses vary, since some schools have other fees included and some have less, you need to refer to the school by inquiring from them directly or their websites.

Choosing The Right School Is Important

One less important factor, but may be relevant for others, would be the location of the school. The location can become a great factor for you if intend to enroll at a school which is situated far away from your own homes. You may even consider the state of the neighborhood if it’s safe and conducive for studying.

Choosing a school is not that of a difficult task. But you need to exercise information gathering to find the school that will best hone yourself into becoming that medical assistant that you always wanted to be.

Medical Assistant Diploma

A diploma in medical assisting is the minimum requirement for any individual who aspires to become a medical assistant. But how do you acquire a medical assistant diploma? What can you do with this diploma? And what’s the difference between a medical assistant diploma and a medical assistant degree? Let us tackle each question one by one.

For starters, a medical assistant diploma is what you receive after graduating from a one-year program of basic medical assisting. This one-year program is offered by colleges, schools, and technical institutions throughout the United States. The course usually involves you to be trained in basic medical assisting, with backgrounds on anatomy and physiology, verbal and written English communication, office administration, medical law and bioethics, human diseases, pharmacology, and computer works. The program also provides an introduction to specialize areas such as phlebotomy, laboratory technology and intravenous medication among others. It prepares you to become an entry-level medical assistant to be hired in different health care settings.

Medical Assistant Diploma Courses Are Widely Available

By having acquired a medical assistant diploma, you are now a legitimate medical assistant, capable of performing what is basic of the job description. Since a medical assistant diploma is the minimum requirement for entering medical assistant jobs, you can apply for the position in that instant. The work of a medical assistant involves being the aide of doctors and nurses in performing various medical procedures, or being at the offices of health care facilities handling its management concerning its inside operations and its patient admissions.

Aside from the medical assistant diploma, there is also something called the medical assistant degree. While the diploma can be acquired by enrolling in a one-year program, the medical assistant degree can be earned by completing a two-year in-depth training which is offered by schools accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

However, there is an ongoing argument whether aspiring medical assistants like you should pursue a diploma or rather a degree. Practically speaking, if you plan to earn a salary fast and time isn’t a luxury for you, then it would be better to pursue getting a diploma. Having a diploma doesn’t necessarily mean that you are less competent than someone else with a degree. So long as you project diligence and passion in what you do, employers will be able to see your value and in time will provide you with more job opportunities. Remember that experience will always be better than anything you learned from books and lectures.

Medical Assistant Degree

The healthcare system is continuously moving forward, requiring more of today’s professionals to become better at what they do best. Medical assistants are also a part of the healthcare system that needs to improve constantly as life becomes complicated each day. But before becoming medical assistants, fresh aspiring medical assistants start with one question: whether to pursue a certificate in medical assisting or chase the harder earned associate’s degree.

Neither program, the one-year certificate training nor the two-year associate’s degree program, are necessarily better than the other. However, your decision will depend on your own current circumstances. The real question here is determining which way will result in the best outcome you desire. If time and money are among your problems, earning a certificate in a year would by a typical decision for you. On the other hand, if time, money and patience are not much of a stressor, you’d typically choose to enroll for a two-year associate’s degree program instead because of its benefits.

Medical Assistant Degree Programs Are Typically 2 Years

Schools and institutions providing this program are and should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). This accreditation ensures that the course outline offered by the school had undergone inspection and had reached high standards, meaning you will be receiving top-notch education and on-the-job training. The medical assistant degree program completes on a two-year time. It usually includes in-depth courses in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, first aid, human diseases, clinical procedures and administrative skills building on office management, word processing, accounting, billing, computer applications, verbal and written communications and more. There are also introductory lessons on advance specialized fields like phlebotomy, medical technology and physical therapy among others.

Applying for a two-year associate’s degree will open you to wider horizons on job opportunities. Medical assistants who have acquired a medical assistant degree are eligible to take the certification exam given by AAMA and other similar organizations. Passing the examination earns you with an identification card and the title Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Usually employers seek medical assistant degree holders who have earned certification because it gives them the sense of competency from the applicants, and thus certified medical assistants often land on more job openings than non-certified ones.

If you think getting a medical assistant degree will lead you towards the job you have dream of while not having any back problems because of the different things that would be required from you, then this could be the perfect choice for you.