Is a Medical Assistant Career for You?
If you’ve always been interested in the medical field but aren’t sure where to begin, a career as a medical assistant may provide the right amount of immediate challenge and still serve as a stepping stone to greater rewards later on in your career.
Medical assistants are vitally important members of any health care team and they perform a multitude of tasks that ensure quality patient care while assisting other medical staff members with their administrative and medical duties.
A Unique Blend of Clinical and Administrative Roles
A medical assistant’s role is unique in that it is a balance of clinical and administrative duties, and medical assistants are often the first point of contact with the public. You must have a passing knowledge of ICD-11 codes for insurance, understand medical and patient chart software applications, and know accounting and billing basics as well as acting as a patient liaison.
On the clinical side you’ll take and record patient medical history and answer questions that help them understand any procedure they may be in the office to undergo. You’ll prep and administer medications, collect lab specimens and even take EKG tests, among other important tasks.
As you mull over your options for health career education programs, consider the plusses of a medical assistant career. Here are five things you should know about the schooling you’ll need, and reasons why now is a good time to start preparing for a career as a medical assistant.
1. Personal fulfillment
Working in the health care industry allows you to help others by honing your medical-related knowledge and skills. Besides knowing the ins and outs of the medical practice, assistants interact a great deal with patients. In this field, your responsibilities can range anywhere from greeting patients at the front desk to removing sutures. Even when you have a particularly challenging day at work, the next day is likely to bring an interesting medical procedure to learn.
2. Quick training in medical assistant programs
While formal education is not always required for a job in this field, medical assistants who have completed a certification or associate’s degree program should have better job opportunities and may be paid higher than those who without prior training. Also, medical assistant programs can generally be completed in just one to two years. You’ll learn relevant information about everything from medical laws and ethics to first aid procedures. Some programs may also include an internship that will help you ease into your new career with confidence.
And, since most employers prefer their medical assisting team to hold professional certification, once you graduate you’re ready to earn your CMA (AAMA) Certification.
3. Plentiful job prospects
Due to a rise in the population, technological advances and increasing medical concerns that dictate a preventative approach to health care, medical assistants should be in consistently high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the field is expected to grow by 18% through 2030, which is much faster than other occupations.
4. Flexible schedule
Most medical assistants work on a full-time, 40 hour week basis. However, medical facilities such as hospitals and emergency clinics often serve the needs of patients by remaining open during evenings, holidays and weekends. That means even if you’re working a full week, you can develop a schedule that works with your personal life. As a medical assistant, you’ll also have the option of working part time, depending on the policies of the medical facility where you work.
5. Advancement opportunities
Once you have your certification as a medical assistant, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to advance by pursuing additional training. For example, you might find that you enjoy working closely with patients, so you may consider pursuing an education in nursing. After gaining some experience, a lot of medical assistants advance to the position of office manager, which brings more responsibilities and higher compensation.
Other Things to Consider
If these five reasons aren’t enough to convince you you’re on the right track, consider these three additional arguments for becoming a medical assistant:
Different work environments
If you’re daunted by the thought of working in a large system-driven hospital, you’ll be happy to know there are other places medical assistants can find work. In fact, over half of medical assistants work in private doctor’s offices, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with hospitals, health practitioner offices and outpatient care centers following next.
As health care becomes more technology-driven, and more and more facilities move to the 365 days a year, 24/7 model of hospitals and emergency clinics, the need for medical assistants will always be present. Another factor that ensures that jobs will be available is the fact that the baby boomer population is aging and more and more health services will be needed.
Join a licensed trade
While you may not immediately think of a medical assisting as a licensed trade, the fact that medical assistants need to study for and pass the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam issued by the American Association of Medical Assistants, proves you are a licensed professional in your chosen field.
Now that you understand the benefits of a medical assistant career, and how well-regarded you may be once you complete your education program and earn your certification, it’s time to start researching accredited programs that can help you get there. If you’re ready to take the first step toward a new career in medical assisting, find out more about medical assistant schools in your area, and request information today.
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