In order to focus their energies on treating patients, doctors hire medical assistants to complete supporting tasks that keep an office running. Depending on where the medical assistant works, they may perform a range of clinical and clerical duties. Typically, medical assistants take part in patient examinations and may ask the patient general questions about their health. They also schedule appointments for patients and are responsible for maintaining patient records. Exploring campus and online medical assistant programs can help you join this fast growing profession.
What is a Medical Assistant Certification Program Like?
Although the requirements for medical assistants vary from state to state, a larger number of employers are asking that medical assistants have a post-secondary certificate. Vocational schools and community colleges typically have medical assistant programs, which usually take approximately one year to complete. Many colleges offer flexible course scheduling on the evenings or weekends, and online medical assistant programs are also available for those who would like to avoid the campus commute. Some courses you might take include:
- Clinical procedures
- Computer keyboarding
- Medical office procedures
- Anatomy & physiology
- Medical terminologyli>
Medical assistants generally need to be familiar with electronic health records (EHR) software and have knowledge of patient privacy regulations, such as HIPAA. While certification is not usually required by the state, most employers prefer certified medical assistants. There are many certifying agencies available, including the Medical Association of Medical Assistants.
Along with your coursework and certification, becoming a medical assistant also requires an attention to detail for accurately recording patient information, good interpersonal skills for working with patients and other healthcare professionals, and strong technical skills for taking blood pressure and assessing the patient’s heart rate.
Medical Assistants in High Demand
Medical assistants can be found not only in doctor’s offices, but also clinics and hospitals. They typically work full-time hours in office environments, but some may work on the evenings and weekends or even overnight. Medical assistants can choose to specialize as clinical, ophthalmic or podiatric medical assistants. A clinical medical assistant, depending on the state where they live, might be allowed to draw blood, remove stitches or prepare patients for x-rays. Ophthalmic medical assistants may assist an ophthalmologist during surgery or instruct patients in proper use of contact lenses, and a podiatric medical assistant might make casts, take x-rays or assist during foot surgery.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth for medical assistants should be much faster than average in the coming decade, at an anticipated rate of 31%. In 2011, medical assistants earned a median annual wage of $29,100. While the lowest 10% earned less than $20,880, the highest 10% earned over $40,810. Those with formal training and certification generally command the highest wages. Medical assistants can advance by becoming medical office managers or pursing further education in the healthcare field.
With the growing baby-boomer population and the increasing demand for preventative medical services, medical assistants will typically find their skills in high demand. Join this dynamic healthcare profession by exploring campus and online medical assistant programs today.
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