What is Medical Assistant?
A Medical Assistant is a healthcare professional who assists physicians and other medical professionals with various clinical and administrative tasks in a medical setting. They work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, and physician offices.
Medical Assistants are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including taking medical histories, preparing patients for examinations, performing basic laboratory tests, administering medications under the supervision of a physician, scheduling appointments, and maintaining medical records. They work under the supervision of a physician or other healthcare provider and may work directly with patients.
Medical Assistants play a vital role in the healthcare industry, helping to ensure that medical offices and clinics run smoothly and efficiently. They often serve as the first point of contact for patients and help to create a welcoming and comfortable environment.
How to become Medical Assistant?
To become a Medical Assistant, you typically need to follow these steps:
- Complete a high school education or equivalent: A high school diploma or GED is typically required to become a Medical Assistant.
- Complete a Medical Assistant training program: Medical Assistant training programs are offered at vocational schools, community colleges, and some universities. These programs typically take 9-12 months to complete and result in a certificate or diploma.
- Obtain certification: While certification is not always required to become a Medical Assistant, many employers prefer or require certification from organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), National Healthcare Association (NHA), and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Certification typically involves passing an exam.
- Gain work experience: Some employers may require or prefer Medical Assistants with previous work experience in a healthcare setting.
- Maintain continuing education: Continuing education is important for Medical Assistants to stay up to date on new medical procedures and technologies, as well as changes in healthcare regulations and laws.
Medical Assistant: Eligibility
To become a Medical Assistant, you typically need to meet the following eligibility requirements:
- High School Diploma or Equivalent: You must have a high school diploma or equivalent to be eligible for most Medical Assistant training programs.
- Completion of a Medical Assistant Training Program: You need to complete a Medical Assistant training program that is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). These programs typically take between 9-12 months to complete.
- On-the-Job Training: Some employers may provide on-the-job training for Medical Assistants who have not completed a formal training program. However, this is becoming increasingly rare as most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a formal training program.
- Certification: While certification is not always required to become a Medical Assistant, many employers prefer or require certification from organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), National Healthcare Association (NHA), and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Certification typically involves passing an exam.
Benefits of Becoming Medical Assistant
There are many benefits to becoming a Medical Assistant, including:
- Job Growth: The healthcare industry is projected to experience significant job growth over the next decade, and Medical Assistants are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Medical Assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
- Job Security: Healthcare is an essential industry, and there will always be a need for Medical Assistants to help provide care to patients.
- Versatility: Medical Assistants are trained in a variety of clinical and administrative tasks, which makes them versatile and able to work in a variety of healthcare settings.
- Career Advancement: Medical Assistants have opportunities for career advancement, including becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, specializing in a specific area of healthcare, or pursuing further education to become a nurse or other healthcare professional.
- Flexibility: Medical Assistant positions often offer flexible work schedules, including part-time and full-time positions, as well as opportunities for evening and weekend work.
- Fulfillment: Medical Assistants play an important role in patient care, and helping patients can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Roles and Responsibility of Medical Assistant
The roles and responsibilities of a Medical Assistant may vary depending on the healthcare setting in which they work, but typically include a combination of administrative and clinical tasks. Here are some of the common duties and responsibilities of a Medical Assistant:
- Greet patients and check them in for appointments
- Schedule appointments and maintain appointment calendars
- Answer phone calls and respond to patient inquiries
- Update and maintain patient medical records
- Verify patient insurance information and process billing
- Prepare patients for exams and procedures
- Take patient vital signs, such as blood pressure and pulse
- Collect and prepare laboratory specimens for testing
- Administer injections and medications as directed by a physician or other healthcare provider
- Perform basic laboratory tests, such as blood glucose monitoring and urinalysis
- Assist with minor medical procedures, such as suturing and dressing changes
Jobs and Salary of Medical Assistant
|Median Annual Salary
|Certified Medical Assistant
|Medical Assistant Technician
|Ophthalmic Medical Assistant
|Podiatric Medical Assistant
Medical Assistant: FAQs
What education is required to become a Medical Assistant?
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent to become a Medical Assistant. Additionally, completing a postsecondary education program in Medical Assisting is recommended. These programs typically take 1-2 years to complete and result in a diploma or certificate.
What certifications are available for Medical Assistants?
The most common certification for Medical Assistants is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential, which is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Additionally, the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential, and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) offers the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential.
What skills are necessary to become a successful Medical Assistant?
Successful Medical Assistants should have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to multitask and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment. Additionally, attention to detail, organization, and problem-solving skills are important for performing clinical and administrative tasks.
What healthcare settings do Medical Assistants typically work in?
Medical Assistants can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, physician offices, outpatient care centers, and long-term care facilities.
Can Medical Assistants specialize in certain areas of healthcare?
Yes, Medical Assistants can specialize in certain areas of healthcare, such as podiatry, ophthalmology, or cardiology. Specializing may require additional training or certification.
What is the job outlook for Medical Assistants?
The job outlook for Medical Assistants is positive, with a projected employment growth rate of 19% from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.