Become a Medical Assistant

Interested in a career that will help people be healthy? Medical assistants held over 527,600 jobs in 2010, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of medical assistants is expected to increase by 31 percent to 2020. Additional demand is expected. The best time to act is now. Use our website to learn more about what is a medical assitant, how much they earn, what are duties and responsibilites and more.

Medical Assistant Job Description

Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks to support the work in the offices and clinics of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors and other health practitioners. Their duties vary from office to office, depending on different criteria like location, specialty, size of the practice. In small practices medical assistants are working as “generalists”, being responsible for both administrative and clinical duties. While in large practices, there may be a specialization in a particular area of medicine (e.g. ophthalmic medical assistants) requiring completion of additional duties.

What Do Medical Assistants Do?

Medical assistant duties include the following:

Administrative Clinical
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Arrange for hospital admission
  • Fill out insurance forms
  • Handle correspondence
  • Keep medical records updated
  • Take medical histories
  • Measure and record vital signs
  • Explain treatment procedures
  • Sterilize medical instruments
  • Instruct about medication
  • Draw blood
  • Take electrocardiograms
  • Prepare patients for X-rays
  • Remove sutures
  • And more*

* Clinical duties are not immutable; they vary depending on the state you are working in. Assistants who specialize in particular areas have additional duties. For example, podiatric medical assistants make castings of feet and provide assistance to podiatrists in surgery. Ophthalmic assistants help ophthalmologists provide medical eye care. They measure patient’s vision, provide consultations about using contact lenses and give instructions about medications.

Working Conditions and Employment

Medical assistants work in clean environments. Medical assistants held about 527,600 jobs in 2010. More than half of all medical assistants (62%) worked in physicians’ offices, 12 percent in public and private hospitals and 11 percent in offices of other health practitioners.

Medical Assistant Employment Data, 2010

Due to the nature of work, duties and responsibilities, they interact with other people (patients and colleagues). Most assistants work on a full-time basis. Some work evenings or weekends.

How to Become a Medical Assistant

In most states, there are no formal training or educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant. The research O*Net survey shows that most assistants have a high school diploma (41%). 37 percent of respondents have some college and 22 percent have an associate’s degree.

Medical Assistant Education

Education, Training and Certification

Graduates of formal medical assisting programs are the most preferable candidates. Such programs are available from vocational-technical high schools, community and junior colleges, postsecondary vocational schools, college and universities. Education programs usually last either 1 year, leading to a certificate or diploma, or 2 years, leading to an associate’s degree.

Courses cover anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, as well as typing, transcription, record keeping, accounting, and insurance processing. Students learn laboratory techniques, clinical and diagnostic procedures, pharmaceutical principles, medication administration, and first aid. In addition, an externship is also included. It allows students to gain experience and apply theoretical knowledge in practice. An externship usually takes place in physicians’ offices, hospitals.

Formal training is not always required. Some assistants are trained in the job. They way how on-the-job training works is simple: an experienced medical assistant becomes a mentor for the new one. And he/she teaches the new assistant all terminology, duties and responsibilities and shows how to do tasks. The ultimate goal is to pass the knowledge. However this practice is becoming rarer. Applicants recommended having a high school diploma.

Though certification is not required, it can really boost chances for employment and career. Certified medical assistants are in demand. There are four organizations in the United States eligible for certification for medical assistants, including the following:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
  • National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

To become a medical assistant, an applicant should not only have an understanding of how the profession looks like but also be familiar with the skills and abilities required.

Medical Assistant Skills Required Abilities Tools Used by M.A.
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Monitoring
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Oral Comprehension
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Speech Clarity
  • Near Vision
  • Speech Recognition
  • Information Ordering
  • Written Expression
  • Hypodermic needles
  • Mercury blood pressure units
  • Nebulizers
  • Spirometers

At a Glance: Salary Statistics

Range in Medical Assistant Wages/Annual Wage

 

Range in Medical Assistant Wages/Hourly Wage

 

Medical assistant salaries can vary greatly. It depends on different factors like experience, skills, industries, location. The median annual salary of medical assistants is $29,100 (May 2011) and hourly wage is $13,99.

Medical Assistant Salaries for Industries

Popular Industries Salary
Offices of Physicians $30,420
General Hospitals $31,010
Offices of Health Practitioners $26,970
Outpatient Care Centers $31,710
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $33,330

 

Salaries for Popular Cities and States

Popular Cities Salary Popular States Salary
Los Angeles Area, CA $31,120 California $32,300
New York Area, NY $34,160 Texas $27,830
Houston Area, TX $30,030 Florida $28,710
Chicago Area, IL $31,430 Pennsylvania $30,060
Atlanta Area, GA $29,930 Ohio $27,600

 

Salaries by State:

Medical Assistant Job Trends

Medical Assistant trends

This graph displays the percentage of M.A. jobs based on the research of job postings. Since November 2010, the following has occurred:

References

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