Medical assistants are in high demand, with hospitals and clinics hiring them in high numbers and offering competitive wages. If you’re interested in a career that combines healthcare with administrative duties, becoming a medical assistant could be your ticket to success. Read on for an overview of the requirements for this job, as well as the career opportunities available.
The Job Description of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants typically perform both clinical and administrative tasks. On the clinical side, they may take vital signs such as blood pressure or temperature, collect samples for lab tests, or assist with exams or treatments. Administrative tasks may include scheduling appointments, filing patient records, maintaining patient charts and billing insurance companies. In some cases, medical assistants may also be responsible for ordering supplies or running errands such as picking up lab specimens from other offices. It’s important to note that each state has its own laws governing what tasks medical assistants can legally perform; make sure you check these laws before you apply for any jobs in this field.
Most medical assistants complete either a one-year certificate program at a community college or technical school, or a two-year associate degree program at a four-year college or university. Some employers may prefer those who have completed an accredited program; if you choose to go this route it’s important to make sure that your school is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). After completing your training program, you must then pass either the Certified Medical Assistant exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Registered Medical Assistant exam offered by The National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Once certified, you will be eligible to work as a professional medical assistant in most states.
The job outlook for medical assistants is positive; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent between 2016 and 2026 — much faster than average for all occupations — due largely to an aging population that requires more healthcare services. Additionally, many employers offer excellent benefits packages including health insurance and paid time off; salaries are also competitive when compared to other similar positions within the healthcare industry. With all these factors taken into consideration, now is an excellent time to consider becoming a medical assistant.
For healthcare professionals who want the opportunity to combine healthcare with administrative duties, becoming a medical assistant can open up numerous career opportunities and provide competitive wages with excellent benefits packages. Plus, with that estimated 23 percent growth rate, it looks like there won’t be any shortage of work anytime soon.