Become a Medical Assistant

The medical profession is one of the highest paying career segments in the world, and one of the fastest growing jobs within this field is that of a medical assistant.

Many physicians, small medical practices, podiatry offices, chiropractic practices, and clinics require medical assistants to help with the day to day running of the healthcare facility. Medical assistant duties include meeting and greeting patients, scheduling appointments, making sure that the administrative side of things is up to date, that laboratory tests are correctly done, that patients are informed of specific procedures, that medical forms and insurance forms are filled out and submitted,  and checking vital signs, sign prescription refills, contact pharmacies regarding prescription, take electrocardiograms, change bandages, and remove stitches, as well as preparing patients and assisting physicians with examinations.

As a medical assistant you can specialize in a certain field, for example you can work as an optometric assistant, ophthalmic assistant, or a podiatric assistant, where you will help provide eye care and foot care to patients, as well as assisting the doctor in surgery if needed. In some States it is also possible for medical assistant duties to include taking X-Rays and giving injections.

Part of your responsibilities as a medical assistant is to make sure that patient rooms and operating rooms are sterile, neat and clean and that the correct instruments are in place ready to be used.

Working as a medical assistant means that you will work in a clean environment, usually with very good lighting, and work the normal 40 hours a week. There are some medical assistants who work part time over weekends and later into the evening.

There are no formal qualifications for medical assistants, as mostly on the job training is provided, however there are 1 and 2 year courses at vocational technical high schools and community colleges that you can complete.  For a 1 year course you will achieve a certificate, and after completing 2 years you will get your associate degree. You can also get certified which will help you get a better, perhaps higher paying job at many companies, although it is not required. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and Association of Medical Technologists (AMT) are two places where you can get your medical assistant certification.

The programs cover various medical jargon, the human body, body structure, along with transcription, bookkeeping, keyboarding and record taking. Medical law and ethics are also an important section of the courses. You will learn various diagnostic and clinical procedures, lab techniques, administration of medication, first aid and pharmaceutical regulations.

When you choose a medical assistant course, make sure that it is through an accredited establishment. This will give you the skills and also the necessary contacts to get an internship when you have completed your degree to give you more practical experience in the field.

One of the best ways to get a job as a medical assistant is to volunteer your services to the healthcare industry which will give you some experience, not to mention that it looks good on your resume. From here you will get to work at a small medical firm in more of an administrative role, before working your way up to being a clinical medical assistant. Medical assisting can also lead to other careers such as teaching medical assisting, office managers, nurses and healthcare workers.

Some necessarily skills that you should possess if you hope to become a medical assistant are being well groomed, having a friendly and calming personality, the ability to interact with patients pleasantly and courteously, a fair level of manual deftness, the ability to respect confidentiality agreements for medical information, visual perception for clinical duties, and be able to confidently explain any instructions given by the doctor.

Salaries of medical assistants range from $25,066 to $35,287 including bonuses and additional benefits. The median wage is $28,300 with over 60 % of medical assistants working at private medical practices.

Medical Assistant Quick Facts

Job Title: Medical Assistant
Office:Medical practices, hospitals, clinics, ophthalmologist offices, optometry offices, podiatrist offices
Description: Assist physicians to perform the day to day tasks of running a practice in administrative and clinical fields
Certifications/Education: No qualifications are required, but job prospects will improve with a 1 or 2 year medical assistant training program, as well as certification.
Necessary Skills: Good organization, neat and tidy, well mannered, friendly, calm, and confident
Potential Employers: Private physician’s practices, hospitals, and medical centers
Pay: Here is a breakdown of the annual wages for each sector of the healthcare industry where medical assistant jobs are offered:

General medical and surgical hospitals – $29,720
Colleges, universities, and professional schools – $28,820
Offices of physicians – $28,710
Outpatient care centers – $28,570
Offices of other health practitioners – $25,240

Helpful Links:
American Medical Technologists
American Association of Medical Assistants
American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants
Medical Assistant Training Schools

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