Do You Need a Degree to Be a Medical Assistant?
- The medical assistant profession
- The education and training requirements for medical assistants
- The duties and responsibilities of medical assistants
- The job outlook for medical assistants
- The salary and benefits of medical assistants
- The work environment of medical assistants
- The career paths for medical assistants
- The professional organizations for medical assistants
- The challenges of being a medical assistant
- The rewards of being a medical assistant
Do You Need a Degree to Be a Medical Assistant? The medical field is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States
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The medical assistant profession
A medical assistant is a member of the healthcare team who performs both clinical and administrative tasks in a medical office. They work under the direct supervision of a licensed physician or registered nurse. Medical assistants are an important part of the healthcare team and play a vital role in patient care.
Most medical assistants have completed a postsecondary educational program that lasts anywhere from six weeks to two years. Some states require medical assistants to be certified, but certification is not required in all states. Although certification is not required, it may give you an advantage when you are looking for a job.
The education and training requirements for medical assistants
Medical assistants are a vital part of the healthcare team, providing support in both administrative and clinical tasks. Although the job does not require a four-year degree, most medical assistants have completed a postsecondary education program.
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available, and most can be completed in one or two years. These programs include both classroom instruction and hands-on training in medical offices and clinics. In addition to completing an accredited program, medical assistants must also pass a certification exam to earn the credential “Certified Medical Assistant” (CMA). Some states also require certification for licensure.
While certification and licensure are not required everywhere, they may be preferred or even required by some employers. Certification shows that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job, and licensure demonstrates that you meet the standards set by your state for practicing as a medical assistant.
The education and training requirements for medical assistants vary by state, so it’s important to check the requirements in your state before you begin your studies. Once you’ve completed an accredited program and passed the certification exam, you’ll be well on your way to beginning your career as a medical assistant!
The duties and responsibilities of medical assistants
Medical assistants are multi-skilled health professionals specifically trained to work in outpatient settings such as medical offices and clinics. They perform administrative and clinical tasks that support the work of physicians, nurses and other health care providers.
The duties and responsibilities of medical assistants vary from state to state and from one medical practice to another. In general, they may perform a variety of tasks including but not limited to the following:
· Answering telephones
· Scheduling appointments
· Keeping medical records
· Filing insurance forms
· Arranging laboratory services
· Giving patients instructions on taking medication or completing special treatments at home
· Assisting with minor office surgery such as the removal of sutures or changing dressings
Although formal education is not required to become a medical assistant, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited program. Medical assistant programs typically last from 3 to 12 months and lead to a certificate, diploma or associate degree.
The job outlook for medical assistants
The job outlook for medical assistants is increasingly positive, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 23 percent growth in jobs from 2016 to 2026. This rapid growth is largely due to the aging Baby Boomer population, who will need more medical care as they age. The Affordable Care Act is also a factor, as it has increased the demand for preventative care and well-visits, which require the assistance of medical assistants.
The salary and benefits of medical assistants
At its core, the job of a medical assistant is to make sure that the medical facility where they work runs smoothly. They are often the first point of contact between patients and the medical staff. Medical assistants are responsible for a wide range of tasks, from scheduling appointments and taking patient histories to performing basic laboratory tests and assisting with minor office surgery. In some states, they may even be allowed to give injections or perform other limited medical procedures.
Medical assistants are in high demand, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the field will grow by 31 percent between 2018 and 2028 — much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for medical assistants was $33,610 in 2018, although salaries can range from around $28,000 to $41,000 or more depending on factors such as geographic location, experience, and type of employer.
In addition to a competitive salary, most medical assistants also receive benefits such as paid vacation days, health insurance and retirement savings plans. Some employers also offer tuition reimbursement for employees who want to further their education in the medical field.
The work environment of medical assistants
Medical assistants work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and other healthcare facilities. Many medical assistants are cross-trained to work in multiple areas of the facility. In small practices, medical assistants may be responsible for all aspects of the operation. In larger practices, medical assistants typically specialize in specific duties.
The career paths for medical assistants
The majority of medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate or diploma from a medical assisting program. Some states have requirements for certification, registration, or licensure of medical assistants.
Those who wish to advance their career may become a certified medical assistant (CMA) through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible for the CMA credential, candidates must graduate from a medical assisting program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Graduates then must pass a certifying exam administered by the AAMA.
Some medical assistants take on additional responsibilities, such as office manager or medical transcriptionist Others may return to school to earn a degrees in nursing or other health professions.
The professional organizations for medical assistants
There are several professional organizations for medical assistants, but only one offers certification: the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The AAMA offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential. To be eligible to take the certification exam, applicants must have graduated from a medical assistant program that has been accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
The challenges of being a medical assistant
While a medical assistant career is a great option for those who want to enter the healthcare field, it does come with some challenges. One of the biggest challenges is that medical assistants are often required to have a degree from an accredited program. This can be a challenge for those who want to enter the field but do not have the time or money to invest in an education. Additionally, medical assistants may find themselves working long hours, including nights and weekends. They may also be required to work holidays.
The rewards of being a medical assistant
The rewards of being a medical assistant are great. They include flexible hours, the ability to help others, and the potential to earn a good salary. While a degree is not required to become a medical assistant, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited training program.