So you have thought of becoming a medical assistant? Good, this field is growing at a very fast pace that was never before seen. Now that you want to know about this field, we are here to guide you with the important aspect of becoming a medical assistant.
What is medical assistant career all about?
Medical assistants are those who work in health care industries and have to handle multitasking in the job settings. Medical assistants can be seen everywhere in the hospitals carrying out various jobs like in the office front, behind the scenes, with the doctor on a visit and also with patients drawing the blood, checking blood pressure, sterilizing medical equipments and assisting doctors. The medical assistants have to work for around 40 hours a week and more if necessary.
Training and education
As per International Standard Classification of Occupations, it is mandatory for medical assistants to undergo a formal training in health services for competency. Formal education in medical assistance is mostly offered by post secondary educational institutes such as technical institutes and vocational schools, community and junior colleges and also by a number of online educational programs.
Most training programs offered by the above mentioned institutes normally lead a student to a medical assistant certification or diploma. A certificate or diploma in this particular trade normally require a period of one year to complete while an associate degree program in medical assistance requires a period of two years for successful completion. Human anatomy and physiology along with medical terminology are some of the topics that are covered by a medical assistant certificate or diploma course and many of these courses also include clinical internship for the students for a period of a couple of months at list during the final stages of the program.
In USA, any degree or diploma program in medical assistance require accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs if the institute offering the program aims at certification and registration of its students as legal professionals.
Nature of work
Their routine work involves administrative and clinical tasks so that the health care facility runs smoothly. Remember they are not physician assistants, but very responsible one. The duties vary according to the job facility. Some of the medical assistants also specialize in any particular area of their interest. They can be found either assisting physicians or nurses in the lab or working in the medical office or handling administrative duties.
Where do they work?
Medical assistants work in government hospitals, private hospitals, clinics, community medical facilities, and outpatient care facility. They are expected to work in irregular hours on various occasions.
Salary and scope of medical assistant
Salary is very much important if you want to start a career in any field. People in medical field earn a very attractive salary and so does a medical assistant. The salary may vary according to state and on the experience, skills, location and education qualification. The average annual salary of medical assistants is around $30,000 and can vary if one is more experienced. A hospital can pay a[highlight] salary of $35,800 annually, while the outpatients care centers can provide $ 34,900. The physician’s office pays $ 33,000 and other small and large health centers pay around $31,000 annually.[/highlight]
The scope of a medical assistant is great and it is supposed to grow more as compared to other occupations. It is through technology that we see a boom in the health care industry. With the aging population and the new born babies, medical treatments and facilities are on the rise. People need more and more care and treatments, which is why all the jobs in the medical fields are on an increase.
How to become a medical assistant?
Before even thinking of working in a medical facility, you need to earn a certificate and even if you want to earn a certificate there are certain prerequisites that need to be fulfilled. To become a medical assistant one needs to have a certificate that gives you the license to work in health care industry. The training will be complete within one year.
Eligibility for medical assistant certificate
To be eligible one needs to have a high school diploma or even a GED. If you do not have one you can enroll in GED classes that are held in various colleges. There must be no criminal record in any state.
Medical assistant certification
The medical assistant certification can be earned by applying to an accredited school that will help you sit for the exam conducted by the CAAHEP or ABHES. The certification course prepares you to perform various clinical as well as administrative duties in medical care facilities. The certificate program comprises of three semester program and the final semester contains review course for the approaching exam and clinical or externship. The clinical knowledge helps the students to learn about the skills, knowledge and abilities and practical experience helps to know the job at the facility. The certification program prepares competent entry level professionals in cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning domains.
There are specialty courses that students can opt for. There are specialty courses in pediatrics, general practice, OB/GYN, geriatrics, rehabilitation and substance abuse. With these mini courses one can get a better position and set above the rest.
A professional certification in medical assistance is required to guarantee job competency at an entry level and though this certification in America is still optional and voluntary, the American Association of Medical Assistants or AAMA and other accreditation bodies back the certification process pretty strongly. The AAMA [highlight]also offer a medical assistant certification exam[/highlight] with the collaboration of National Board of Medical Examiners. The CMA exam by AAMA is offered throughout the year at a number of computerized testing centers all over the country and students who have successfully completed a medical assistant program accredited by the ABHES or the CAAHEP are only eligible to appear in the CMA (AAMA) examination.
After successful completion of CMA (AAMA) certification exam students earn the AAMA credential as registered and legal professionals but at the same time they are also required to continue their education or go for a re-examination after every 5 years in order retain and maintain their certification. Apart from the CMA (AAMA) certification, an aspiring medical assistant can always choose other credentials in order to become a RMA or Registered Medical Assistant – but in that case he will be required to get his certification from an institute recognized by the AMT or American Medical Technologists agency.
Apart from AAMA and AMT there are two more USA organizations that are valid to certify medical assistance and they are CAAHEP and ABHES. National Center for Competency Testing is another organization in America who also certifies medical assistants through a stringent test and National Certified Medical Assistant or NCMA is the designation that a student receives after successfully passing through the examination and also the background check for his proper educational qualification. The NCCT is actually an independent and third party organization and since they started operation in the year 1989 they have successfully trained more than 200,000 professional medical assistants all over the country.
Online school for certification
There are many accredited online certification schools that provide the same education and training similar to the on-campus school. If you are working or a mother that need to tend to children, you can opt for online school.
A number of AAMA and AMT accredited institutions in America now provide online education and training that is pretty similar to the on-campus institutions and students who cannot attend a regular school can always opt for these online medical assistant training and certification programs. After successful completion of the certificate program from an affiliated institution the students will be eligible to sit for the CMA (AAMA) certification examination. But he will be still required to re certificate after a period of five years and can enjoy job prospects that are same with students undergoing medical assistant certification from an on-campus institute.
What does the program include?
The program includes training like taking vital signs like drawing blood, checking blood pressure, collecting medical specimens, handling billing, answer phone calls, insurance matter, etc. The programs will also teach you to handle laboratories as well.
After completing the course, one has to appear for the certification exam that is held by the accredited board. Upon passing the exam one get the certification. However, you have to have to check for any other paper work for approval of the state like license or registration. You will also have to take a recertification program after every five years.
Job responsibilities and practice
While performing clinical duties that are delegated by a physician, a medical assistant is required to perform and discharge his responsibilities under the direct supervision of the physician. But medical assistants must never be confused with physician assistants, who are physical extenders licensed to practice medicine and other surgical methods under the direct supervision of a physician. In a number of states in America, certified medical assistants are allowed to perform more advanced medical procedures such as taking x-rays and giving injections. From time to time they do also serve as surgeon’s assistants taking part in infusing anesthesia, ablative laser dermal resurfacing and a number of other cosmetic procedures.