In this chapter, we’ll cover the basics of what a medical assistant is and what they do. We’ll also touch on some of the key skills and qualities that are necessary for success in this field.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
A medical assistant is a vital member of the healthcare team who perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks to keep the office running smoothly. Medical assistants interact directly with patients, so they must have excellent communication skills and be able to put patients at ease. They also must be able to work well under pressure, as they often have to juggle multiple tasks at once.
Medical assistants typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may require postsecondary education or certification. Most states do not regulate medical assistants, but many employers prefer to hire those who have completed an accredited program.
Duties of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant are both Clinical and Administrative. Clinical duties include:
-Taking and recording patient vital signs
-Preparing patients for examination
-Assisting the physician during the examination
-Performing diagnostic tests
-Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
-Instructing patients on medications and special diets
-Taking prescription requests from patients over the phone
Administrative duties include:
-Updating and filing patient medical records
-Arranging for hospital admissions and follow up visits
-Maintaining supplies Medical assistants work in physician’s offices, clinics, group practices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. They may be responsible for one area of work or they may perform a variety of tasks. Many medical assistants specialize in one area of practice, such as pediatrics or ophthalmology. Most full time medical assistants work a regular 40 hour week, but some may work evenings or weekends to cover for absent colleagues or to meet the needs of the facility where they work.
Skills Required of a Medical Assistant
Successful performance as a medical assistant requires the mastery of many skills. Among these are communication, both verbal and written; interpersonal relations; professionalism; critical thinking and problem solving; teaching and learning; interviewing; physical assessment; taking and recording medical histories; performing diagnostic tests; collecting and processing laboratory specimens; preparing patients for examination and assisting the physician during the exam; assisting with minor surgery and administering injections; performing basic clerical duties such as scheduling appointments, handling correspondence, handling medical records, billing, and coding for insurance purposes. In addition, medical assistants must be able to work calmly under pressure, adapt to changes in the workplace, function as part of a health care team, and deal effectively with a wide variety of people. Although not required, fluency in a second language is often helpful. As technology advances, medical assistants must be willing to learn new skills to stay current in their profession.
Education and Training for a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are vital members of the healthcare team. They are trained to perform both clinical and administrative tasks in a medical office or clinic setting, providing support to doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
While there is no formal education requirement to become a medical assistant, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited medical assistant program. These programs are typically offered by community colleges, technical schools and even some hospitals.
Most medical assistant programs take between one and two years to complete and result in a certificate or diploma. Some programs also offer an associate degree, which may take an additional year or two to earn.
The Certification Process for a Medical Assistant
There are a variety of certification bodies that offer certification for medical assistants. Certification is not always necessary to work as a medical assistant, but some employers prefer or require employees to be certified. Also, some states have specific requirements for certification. The most common type of certification for medical assistants is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible for the CMA credential, an applicant must graduate from an accredited medical assisting program and pass a certification exam.
The Medical Assistant Salary
The starting salary for a medical assistant can vary greatly depending on the location, employer, and experience of the individual. A recent survey reported that the median starting salary for a medical assistant was $28,860 per year. The highest 10% of earners made more than $40,280 per year, while the lowest 10% earned less than $21,410 per year.
The Job Outlook for a Medical Assistant
The Job Outlook for a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for medical assistants will grow much faster than average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028. In fact, the BLS projects a 29% increase in medical assistant jobs during this time period. This growth is due to a number of factors, including an aging population and advances in medical technology.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Medical Assistant
There are both pros and cons to being a medical assistant. One of the biggest pros is that medical assistants can have a direct impact on patient care. They are often the ones who work most closely with patients, and they can play a vital role in ensuring that patients receive the best possible care. Another pro is that medical assistants have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to clinics to private practices. This can make for a very interesting and rewarding career.
However, there are also some potential downsides to being a medical assistant. One of the biggest is that it can be a very demanding job. Medical assistants often have to work long hours, and they may be required to work evenings or weekends. Another downside is that medical assistants may not have as much formal training as other health care professionals, such as nurses or doctors. This means that they may not be able to advance as far in their careers as other professionals.
10 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant
The medical field is one of the most stable and fastest-growing industries in the United States. As our population ages, the demand for healthcare services will continue to increase. Medical assistants play a vital role in our healthcare system by providing support to doctors and other medical professionals. If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare, here are 10 reasons why you should become a medical assistant:
1. Medical assistants are in high demand.
There are currently more than 600,000 medical assistants working in the United States, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this number will grow by 29% by 2026. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.
2. You can get started with minimal training.
Most medical assistant programs can be completed in less than two years, and some programs can be completed online. This means you can start your career relatively quickly and without incurring a lot of debt from student loans.
3. You’ll have job security.
As we mentioned before, the medical field is growing rapidly due to an aging population and advances in medicine. This growth is projected to continue for many years, which means there will be plenty of job opportunities for medical assistants for the foreseeable future.
4. You’ll have the opportunity to help people.
If you enjoy helping others and making a difference in their lives, then becoming a medical assistant is a great way to do that. In this role, you’ll be directly involved in providing care to patients and helping them improve their health.
5. You’ll have variety in your day-to-day work routine. No two days will be alike as a medical assistant. Your duties may include greeting patients, updating records, scheduling appointments, taking vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with procedures—just to name a few possibilities! This variety helps to keep your work interesting and prevents boredom from setting in.
6) Working hours are generally regular Monday through Friday daytime hours..This predictable schedule can provide some stability and balance if you have young children or other family obligations outside of work..
7) With experience …you may have opportunities to move into supervisory or managerial roles..or take on additional responsibilities such as teaching or conducting research…
8) Some positions offer opportunities to work part-time or from home…which can provide additional flexibility if needed..
9) The median annual salary for medical assistants was $32,480 in 2016…meaning that half of all medical assistants earn more than this amount each year…with experienced professionals earning closer to $40,000 annually…
10) Many employers offer benefits packages that include health insurance…retirement plans…and paid time off…which can add substantial value to your compensation package…
5 Reasons Not to Become a Medical Assistant
Pursuing a career as a medical assistant can be very rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. Here are five reasons why you might not want to become a medical assistant:
1. If you’re not comfortable around blood, needles, or other medical procedures, then being a medical assistant is probably not for you.
2. Medical assistants often have to work long hours, weekends, and holidays. If you’re not able to work these types of hours, then becoming a medical assistant may not be the right career choice for you.
3. Medical assistants sometimes have to deal with difficult patients or family members. If you don’t think you could handle this type of stress, then being a medical assistant may not be the right job for you.
4. Medical assistants need to have good communication skills and be able to work well with others. If you don’t think you have these skills, then a career as a medical assistant might not be right for you.
5. You need to be comfortable with technology to becomae a medical assistant. If you’re not good with computers or other types of technology, then this career may not be the best choice for you