How Do You Become a Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant is a multi-skilled allied health professional that specializes in assisting physicians with patient care. If you are interested in becoming a medical assistant, read on to learn more about the education and training requirements, as well as the job outlook.

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Introduction

Medical assistants are in high demand. They work in medical offices and clinics, assisting doctors and other medical staff. If you’re thinking about becoming a medical assistant, here’s what you need to know.

Most medical assistants have at least a high school diploma, although some jobs may require postsecondary education, and most states regulate the profession. Although not required, certification may give job seekers a competitive edge. Medical assistants typically complete a one- or two-year certificate or diploma program at a community college, technical school, or vocational school. Some states allow medical assistants to become certified through on-the-job training. Employers generally provide training on the specific skills needed for the job.

What is a medical assistant?

medical assistant, health care, medical office, outpatient care, medical records, patient care

Duties of a medical assistant

In order to understand the duties of a medical assistant, it is important to first understand what medical assistants do. Medical assistants are health care professionals who perform administrative and clinical tasks in order to support the work of physicians and other medical staff. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

The duties of a medical assistant vary depending on their specific job title and the needs of their employer. However, there are some duties that are common among most medical assistants. These duties include but are not limited to:

-Answering patient questions
-Scheduling appointments
– Collecting patient medical histories
-Taking patient vital signs
-Assisting with minor office surgery
-Preparing patients for examination
-Instructing patients on wound care or other self-care tasks
-Performing specimen collection

Qualifications to become a medical assistant

Medical assistants are in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical assisting field is projected to grow by 29% from 2019 to 2029 — that’s much faster than the average for all occupations.1

Becoming a medical assistant is a smart career choice. It’s a profession with good job prospects, and it doesn’t require a lengthy or expensive education. Medical assistants can complete training in as little as one year at a community college, trade school, or technical school. Some even complete certification courses online.

Here are the steps you need to take to become a medical assistant:

Step 1: Research Medical Assisting Programs
The first step is to find an accredited program that fits your needs. Research programs at community colleges, trade schools, and technical schools in your area. Alternatively, some employers offer on-the-job training for medical assistants. Whichever route you choose, make sure the program you select is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). A document from either of these organizations ensures that your program meets industry standards.

Step 2: Enroll in an Educational Program
Once you’ve found an accredited program, it’s time to enroll. Online medical assisting programs are available if you prefer distance learning, but many students find it easier to complete hands-on training in a traditional classroom setting. Classroom instruction gives you the opportunity to ask questions and receive immediate feedback from your instructor. You’ll also have access to clinical experiences, which will help prepare you for your future career. If you opt for an on-the-job training program, make sure it includes both didactic (classroom) instruction and clinical experiences so that you graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in your new career.

Step 3: Earn Your Degree or Certificate
Most medical assisting programs lead to either an associate degree or certificate. An associate degree takes about two years to complete, while a certificate can be earned in as little as one year. If you plan on continuing your education and becoming a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) or Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), you should enroll in an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting program so that you have the required credits for certification eligibility later on down the road.

Step 4: Consider Certification
While certification is not required to work as a medical assistant, many employers prefer or require candidates who are certified by either the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or National Healthcare Association (NHA). To qualify for taking either of these exams, you must have graduated from an accredited medical assisting program within the last five years OR completed an accredited externship within the last 12 months OR worked full-time as a medical assistant for five out of the last 10 years If any of these scenarios apply to you and you’d like to become certified, contact either organization directly for more information about taking their exam:

American Association of Medical Assistants Certification Exam National Healthcare Association Certification Exam

Step 5: Start Your Career!
After completing your educational requirements and passing your certification exam (if applicable), it’s time to start applying for jobs! Check out job postings online at Indeed.com or monster.com, or stop by your local hospital or doctor’s office and inquire about open positions directly. Most importantly – don’t forget to include your new credential (AAMA-CMA or NHA-CCMA) on your resume so that employers know that you are qualified and ready to work!

How to become a medical assistant

To become a medical assistant, you will need to complete a medical assisting program. Once you have completed the program, you will need to take a certification exam. After passing the exam, you will be a certified medical assistant and will be able to find employment in a variety of healthcare settings.

Medical assistant certification

There are many ways to become a medical assistant, but the most common route is to earn a certificate from an accredited program. These programs typically last about a year, although some may be as short as eight months or as long as two years.

Job outlook for medical assistants

Job outlook for medical assistants is positive. Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population and longer life expectancies will lead to an increased demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by medical assistants. The expanded use of medical assistants in place of more costly health care professionals, such as nurses and physicians, is expected to continue. In addition, demand for services that focus on wellness and chronic care management is expected to grow as the baby-boom generation ages.

Medical assistant salary

The medical assistant salary is directly related to experience, with entry-level workers earning the least and those with more experience earning more.

Pros and cons of being a medical assistant

Pros:
• The median annual wage for medical assistants was $33,610 in May 2018.
• Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
• Many medical assistants have flexible schedules, and about 1 in 3 worked part time in 2018.
• Some Medical assistants may find opportunities to advance to supervisor or managerial positions, or to move into related occupations, such as registered nursing.

Cons:
• Medical assistants must follow strict ethical guidelines when dealing with patients’ health information and protecting their privacy.
• Medical assistants may be exposed to infectious diseases while on the job and must take precautions to avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids.
• Some medical assisting tasks require repetitive motions and long periods of standing, which can lead to discomfort or injury.

FAQs about becoming a medical assistant

If you want to become a medical assistant, you may have some questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a medical assistant:

1. What do medical assistants do?
Medical assistants perform many different tasks, including taking patients’ vital signs, recording medical histories, giving injections and assisting with minor surgical procedures.

2. How much does a medical assistant make?
The average medical assistant salary is $15 per hour, or $31,200 per year. However, salaries can vary depending on experience, location and other factors.

3. How long does it take to become a medical assistant?
Most programs take between 9 and 12 months to complete. However, some accelerated programs can be completed in as little as 6 months.

4. Do I need to be certified to become a medical assistant?
While certification is not required in all states, it may give you an advantage when applying for jobs. Certification can also lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities.

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