Your Guide Through Medical Assisting


A medical assistant is an allied health professional that works alongside physicians and other health professionals, usually in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities. Along with the predicted surge of more people needing medical treatments is the rise of outpatient care facilities and doctors' offices that are sure to need a medical assistant.


How does one become a certified medical assistant?

Choose a short-term or long-term course from an institution that offers a medical assistant program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), so getting registered or certified will not be a problem. Certification agencies, such as the American Medical Technologist (AMT) and the American Association of Medical Assistant (AAMA) require graduates to have accredited programs in order to be certified or registered.


What is medical assisting?

As previously mentioned medical assistants help physicians and other healthcare professionals handle clinical and administrative duties that range from answering telephones to bookkeeping. Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction, a medical assistant may be allowed to perform more advanced procedures, such as taking X-rays or giving injections, provided that they pass a certain test or after pursuing a related course.


Who can become medical assistants?

Medical assistants should undergo formal training, based on the health workers classification set by the International Standard Classification of Occupations in collaboration with WHO. This is to ensure competent performance on the job.


What is the typical work environment of a medical assistant?

Certified and registered medical assistants are eligible to work in outpatient facilities, clinics and doctors' offices. As of 2012, a majority of medical assistants are employed in physicians' offices. A typical work week runs from Monday through Friday, with some extending evening and weekend hours.


What are the main responsibilities of a medical assistant?

Job responsibilities of a medical assistant is a cross between administrative and clinical duties. Administrative responsibilities may include but not limited to answering telephones, greeting patients, using computer applications, coding and filling out insurance forms, updating and filing patient medical records, arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services, scheduling an appointment, and handling billing, bookkeeping and correspondence.

Clinical responsibilities may include but not limited to explaining treatment procedures to patients, instructing patients about medication and special diets, preparing patients for examination, preparing and administering medication under a physician's strict direction instruction, taking medical history, performing basic laboratory tests, assisting the physician during exams, drawing blood, removing sutures and changing dressings, taking electrocardiograms, authorizing prescription refills as directed, and collecting and preparing laboratory specimens.


What are available medical assistant training and courses?

Employers prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed related postsecondary education programs, such as anatomy, biology and chemistry. Most programs that take about 1 year to complete lead to a certificate or diploma, while 2-year programs allow students to pursue an associate's degree. Most states don't require formal education for medical assistants, but they must graduate from an accredited program.


Where can you study medical assistance?

Most programs related with medical assisting are available in universities, community colleges, technical schools and vocational schools. As previously mentioned, it is vital to choose an institution that is accredited by accreditation bodies and offers accredited programs in medical assistants.


What are the requirements for training?

Anyone interested to become a medical assistant must have a high school diploma to study post-secondary education programs related to the healthcare profession. After from completing a program, they need to be registered or certified. If they want to perform advanced procedures such as giving injections, they must pass an exam or graduate from an accredited program.


How long does the training or course last?

On-the-job training for employees without post-secondary education is likely to last for however long it takes to master the skills. Those with post-secondary education, would take about 1 to 2 years to complete, depending on the program and school. This excludes any training that an employer might require employees to take upon recruitment.


What is a medical assistant’s career outlook?

In 2012, more than half a million jobs were held by medical assistants, and the number is predicted to grow by as much as 29% until 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth is much faster than average, making a medical assistant career a great option to consider.


What is the salary scale to expect as a medical assistant?

Medical assistants are paid an average rate of around $29,300 a year, which is lesser than what a nurse would make while performing practically the same duties and responsibilities. Salary, however, is influenced by location and whether you are working in private practice or ambulatory care. Some medical assistants earn as much as over $48,000.

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