A career in healthcare is much sought after due to the immense opportunities available for professional growth, financial advancement and personal development. Healthcare is virtually recession-proof and offers attractive opportunities to job seekers who are dedicated, hardworking, resolute, and resourceful.
Healthcare jobs range from highly sought after allied healthcare jobs, a majority of which you qualify for as soon as you finish high school, to those of surgeons and physicians who commit close to 10 years of study in medical school.
If you do not want to incur massive student debt and spend many years in college, then a career in allied health will be the best bet for you.
Medical assistants are the backbone of successful and patient-friendly medical practices. They are essential to keep the practices running smoothly without any glitches, and ensure that the best environment is available to physicians to deliver quality patient care. Medical assistant jobs are also among the fastest growing allied healthcare jobs with an average annual salary of $29,370 as per BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Read on to know about the exciting career prospects of a medical assistant.
1. What Is the Role of a Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant has a pivotal role in ensuring the practice runs smoothly and efficiently, like a well-oiled system.
The responsibilities are of administrative as well as clinical nature, and will keep you on your toes through the day. A routine day involves taking care of daily administration like attending phone calls, scheduling patient appointments, receiving and replying to mail, and filling up insurance forms.
A medical assistant performs clinical duties that include recording patient history, performing preliminary tests and examinations, drawing blood and administering injections and vaccines, preparing laboratory specimens and readying them for analysis, filling up prescriptions, and advising patients on diets and medications. Medical assistants provide crucial support to physicians to allow them to see and care for more patients.
There are also specialized roles that you can opt for which allows you to assist ophthalmologists or optometrists in conducting examinations of patients. You will also have more specialized roles in medical offices of chiropractors, podiatrists and other specialists.
As a student, you will have to bear in mind that the nature of duties will vary with size and specialty, and location of practice.
2. How Can You Become a Medical Assistant?
Most states in the US do not have any strict educational requirements for practicing as medical assistants. A high school diploma or GED certificate is all that you require to start your career as a medical assistant.
When you do not have any formal training your employer will have to invest time and money in training you. You also will take some time to become an active and contributing member in your team. It is for these very reasons that many reputed employers hesitate in offering jobs to untrained candidates.
Enrolling in an accredited program will help you learn the basics of patient care and human anatomy. Some states may also require you to pass an exam or be certified, or both. In these instances knowledge of human anatomy, medical procedures, health conditions, treatment and relevant medical terminology become extremely helpful.
A good training program will also equip you with the ability to code insurance forms and fill in relevant details.
3. What Are the Essential Qualities of a Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant will be on his or her toes for most part of the day. There will be patients streaming in throughout the day, and you will probably be the first and the last person they meet during their visit.
A medical assistant needs a lot of stamina, mental strength and empathy. You will meet worried patients and their loved ones. You will have to comfort them and explain health condition and benefits of the treatment they will receive. You will have to practice empathy and protect yourself from stress and strain of patient care. Good interpersonal skills will help you perform well in this role.
Sharp analytical skills will help you read and diagnose medical charts and reports. You will also be involved in measuring vital signs and recording patient medical history. A detail oriented approach is essential because what you record and code is relied upon by physicians and insurance companies.
A medical assistant uses several medical equipment and instruments to record vitals and perform laboratory tests. An accredited training program will teach you to use and maintain basic clinical equipment, and sterilize laboratory instruments.
Medical assistants who are trained in use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) are preferred by reputed employers. A good training program will teach you to maintain records in latest EHR software, and also educate you on data security practices, data storage and protection of individual patient information. You will learn to analyze and interpret EHR data and co-ordinate it for insurance-related activities.
All these skills equip you to face the challenges in today’s workplace and succeed.
4. What Are the Certifications or Licenses Required?
Most states do not require medical assistants to be certified or licensed, but they will definitely help you build your career on a foundation of strong credentials. Certification will also increase your chances of being hired by reputed hospitals and healthcare providers.
In the US, medical assistant certification is done through Certified Medical Examination (CMA). There are several agencies that conduct this examination including American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) which is widely recognized across the US. Medical assistant certification in CT is also provided by AAMA.
After you successfully complete your training program you can apply to sit for the exam through the AAMA website. The exam usually consists of multiple choice questions and a good training program will help you clear the test comfortably. The AAMA certifies successful candidates as medical assistants and will also confer the CMA certificate which is held in value across the US.
A career in allied health offers you fairly regular work hours, is financially rewarding and provides excellent professional growth. So enroll for the most suitable raining program to bag a job in the rapidly growing field of healthcare.