One of the fastest growing medical careers is medical assisting. A medical assistant helps the healthcare facility to run smoothly. They do this by performing physician support services, which include clinical assistance, clerical work, and other tasks which aid in the physician's productivity.
There are currently many jobs available, but they are becoming increasingly competitive. The multi-faceted skillset of a medical assistant makes it a desirable position for employers, which has contributed heavily to the increased demand.
Due to the advancements of the medical field, Everest College projects that the medical assistant profession will grow 31% by 2020. With increases in population and the overall growth of the medical community, the increased demand for medical assistants should put it near the top of the list for people seeking careers in the medical field.
How does someone become a medical assistant? An interesting aspect of this career is that you don’t need to have a degree to be a medical assistant. In some cases, a high school diploma or GED is all that is needed. However, this may make it more difficult to find a job, and you are likely to be paid less.
The safest route to a secure career as a medical assistant is to obtain a medical assistant’s certificate from the AAMA (American Association for Medical Assistants). While the program does take two years to complete, it can dramatically increase your desirability to employers. There are a variety of routes you can take to achieve the certificate.
Community colleges, trade schools, and online programs are all viable options depending on your schedule and budget. An important caveat to note is that the certification and a certificate are not the same. If you receive a certificate from an accredited institution, you will still need to become certified.
Once you have obtained your certificate, there are multiple career routes that you will be able to choose from:
While being a traditional medical assistant does not require a degree, obtaining a certificate will certainly assist you in the job hunt. The job description of a traditional medical assistant is far more broad than clinical or administrative medical assistants, and job duties may depend entirely on the needs of the employing physician. This may be ideal for someone who isn’t entirely sure which medical specialty they want to work in.
As a clinical medical assistant (CMA), you will work alongside nurses and doctors, and help provide a variety of medical procedures. Responsibilities of a CMA include, changing and dressing wounds, taking patient histories, scheduling procedures, taking x-rays, and other tasks as directed by the physician. The duties of a CMA are state regulated, which means they may vary from state to state.
Unlike the clinical medical assistant, the administrative medical assistant does not work directly with patients, and instead works on the clerical side of the industry.
The duties of an AMA may include filing insurance claims, processing patient payments, answering phones and responding to emails, scheduling appointments, and any other administrative duties requested by the physician.
Another very important factor to consider when deciding which medical assistant path is right for you is to consider the medical assistant’s role in meaningful use.
With the shift towards electronic health records (EHR’s) and the collection of meaningful use incentives, medical clinics and hospitals are seeking every way to increase their compliance. As of 2013, only credentialed medical assistants can enter orders in EHR’s.
So for the purpose of meaningful use compliance, employers may be much more likely to hire a candidate who is certified so that they can collect their compliance check.
If you are considering a career in the medical field -- but aren’t quite sure what you want to do -- then you should highly consider a career as a medical assistant.
With the requisite education levels being relatively lower than other medical careers, competitive pay, and with several different career paths available, a career as a medical assistant is very appealing. Visit our career profile page to learn more about careers as a medical assistant.