Can a surgical tech work as a medical assistant? The answer is yes! With the right training, surgical techs can make the transition to medical assisting.
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Can a Surgical Tech Work as a Medical Assistant?
While a surgical technologist and medical assistant are both medical professionals, their roles are different. Surgical techs work in the operating room with surgeons, while medical assistants typically work in doctors’ offices. There are some similarities in the training required and duties performed, but each job has its own distinct requirements.
If you’re considering a career as a medical assistant, you may be wondering if your experience as a surgical tech will give you a leg up. Here’s what you need to know about the similarities and differences between these two jobs.
Both surgical techs and medical assistants must complete an accredited training program. Surgical tech programs typically last about nine months, while medical assistant programs can take up to two years to complete. Both roles also require certification, although the type of certification you’ll need will depend on your state’s requirements.
Once they’re certified, surgical techs and medical assistants perform many of the same tasks. Both help prepare patients for surgery and assist during procedures. They also sterilize equipment and maintain operating rooms or exam rooms. However, their roles differ when it comes to patient interaction. Surgical techs generally don’t have much direct contact with patients, while medical assistants often serve as the first point of contact in a doctor’s office. Medical assistants also have more administrative duties than surgical techs, such as scheduling appointments and handling billing or insurance paperwork.
The salary for these two roles also varies depending on experience and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for surgical technologists was $47,300 in 2018, while medical assistants earned a median salary of $33,610 during that same year.
The Difference Between a Surgical Tech and a Medical Assistant
While there is some overlap in the duties of surgical techs and medical assistants, there are also significant differences. Here’s a quick rundown of each position:
Surgical techs are integral members of the operating room team. They prepare the operating room for surgery, sterilize instruments, and hand surgeons the instruments they need during surgery. Surgical techs also may apply dressings to incisions and help transport patients to recovery rooms.
Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks to keep doctors’ offices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities running smoothly. Their duties may include scheduling appointments, verifying insurance coverage, taking and recording patients’ vital signs, preparing exam rooms, and assisting with routine office procedures. Medical assistants also may give patients injections and collect lab specimens.
The Similarities Between a Surgical Tech and a Medical Assistant
There are many similarities between the two professions, but there are also some important differences.
Both surgical techs and medical assistants must be able to work well under pressure, must have excellent communication skills, and must be able to follow instructions. They must also be able to work with a team of other medical professionals.
However, there are some important differences between the two professions. Surgical techs must have more training than medical assistants, and they must be able to maintain a sterile environment. They also assist during surgery, whereas medical assistants do not typically participate in surgery.
The Training Required for a Surgical Tech
A surgical technologist is an allied health professional who works under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses and other surgical personnel. Surgical technologists play a vital role in the operating room by helping to prepare patients and equipment for surgery and assisting during the procedure.
The training required for a surgical technologist depends on the state in which you plan to work. In most states, you will need to complete an accredited surgical technologist program, which typically takes about nine months to a year to complete. Upon completion of your program, you will need to pass a national certification exam before you can begin working as a surgical technologist.
The Training Required for a Medical Assistant
The training required for a medical assistant varies by state, but most states require medical assistants to complete a formal education program. Formal education programs for medical assistants are available at community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools. Most programs take about one year to complete and include both classroom and clinical components.
After completing a formal education program, medical assistants must pass a national certification exam. The National Healthcare Association offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential, and the American Association of Medical Assistants offers the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential. In some states, medical assistants may also need to obtain a state-level certification or license.
Once they have completed all necessary training and obtained certification, medical assistants can begin working in healthcare settings such as doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals. Most medical assistants work full time, and some positions may require evening or weekend hours.
The Certification Required for a Surgical Tech
The certification required for a surgical tech is the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). After completing an accredited surgical tech program, graduates must pass the NBSTSA’s Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam to earn their credential.
The National Healthcare Association (NHA) also offers a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. To be eligible to take the CCMA exam, candidates must have completed an accredited medical assisting program and have at least five years of full-time work experience as a medical assistant. There is no equivalent exam for surgical techs offered by the NHA.
However, several organizations, including the American Board of Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC), offer certification exams for medical assistants who wish to specialize in a certain area of healthcare, such as orthotics and prosthetics. There is no certification exam specifically for surgical techs interested in specializing in this field.
The Certification Required for a Medical Assistant
The certification required for a medical assistant is not as extensive as the certification required for a surgical tech. A medical assistant can be certified through a number of different programs, but the most common program is the one offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). This program requires that candidates have completed an accredited medical assisting program and have passed a national exam.
The Job Duties of a Surgical Tech
The job duties of a surgical tech are similar to those of a medical assistant. Both positions involve working with patients before and after surgery, but surgical techs are more involved in the surgical process itself.
Surgical techs prepare operating rooms for surgery, ensuring that all of the equipment is sterilized and ready to use. They also assist surgeons during surgery, handing them instruments and supplies as needed. After surgery, they help to clean and close the incisions.
Medical assistants, on the other hand, work mainly with patients before and after their surgeries. They take vital signs, collect medical histories, schedule appointments, and provide general support to patients.
Both surgical techs and medical assistants play important roles in the surgical process, but their duties are different. If you’re interested in working in the medical field, you should research both positions to see which one is right for you.
The Job Duties of a Medical Assistant
A medical assistant is a person who performs administrative and clinical tasks in a medical office. They work under the supervision of a licensed health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant. Medical assistants are often the first contact that patients have with the medical office. They are usually responsible for greeting patients, scheduling appointments, and answering phones. They may also take medical histories, measure vital signs, prepare patients for examination, assist with minor office procedures, give injections, and remove sutures.
The Salary of a Surgical Tech vs. a Medical Assistant
Surgery Tech Vs. Medical Assistant: The Difference in Pay
A medical assistant’s salary is lower than a surgical tech’s salary. The median pay for a medical assistant is $15.10 per hour, or $31,540 annually, as of 2019. Surgical techs earn a median wage of $20.76 per hour, or $43,160 yearly.