The health care assistants in the medical field are very important to medical staffs. They assist in surgeries and providing health services to patients. These assistants are almost on the same level as the professional medical doctors because they almost have the same duties and responsibilities. Aside from a dental assistant and a nursing assistant, one of the professions that provide help to the doctors and surgeons is the medical assistant.
Medical Assistant Job Description
Medical assistants are the healthcare individuals that are supporting or aiding the medical doctors and other health professionals in their work. They provide clinical and administrative support to the doctors and other health professionals. A medical assistant performs several kinds of tasks. She is responsible for measuring the patient’s vital signs, recording information in the medical records system, doing routine tasks, and helping with medication processes and injections. She also carries the task to prepare and handle medical supplies and instruments, and collects and prepares body fluids that are needed for laboratory testing.
The coverage of the medical assistant jobs is very extensive. Thus, the medical assistants are divided according to the job that they perform. They are commonly grouped as medical office assistant, clinical medical assistants, administrative medical assistants, and specialized medical assistants. The medical office assistants ensure that the office is running smoothly. They perform office works such as answering the phone, greeting the patients, typing the doctor’s letters and memos, schedule appointments and sort mails. The clinical medical assistant’s job description varies from one state to another. Their role is to perform tasks that are medical-related. They can prepare the patient before the examination, take down notes on a patient’s medical history, assist the physician during the examination, call in prescriptions to the pharmacy, and sterilize the medical instruments. They can also perform jobs like explaining medical conditions and issues to the patient, collecting laboratory specimen, drawing blood, taking electrocardiograms, and removing sutures.
The medical administrative assistant, on the other hand, handles the submission of medical claim forms, scheduling medical tests, updating the files of the patients, arranging admissions on the hospital, bookkeeping and billing of the medical facilities and practice. Finally, the specialized medical assistants work in their area of expertise. For example, the medical lab assistants are obliged to do lab-related tasks such as testing and documenting of tests. The optometric assistant works with an optometrist and performs jobs that are related to the eye.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
- Familiarize yourself with medical assisting. Know their duties and responsibilities, their jobs, how much they earn, where they work etc. You can search the web for this information or try to speak to someone who is in this profession. That way, you can ask about their experiences, and what it takes to be a medical assistant. If you are still interested in becoming one after finding these details, then you can move on to the next procedure.
- You will have to enrol in a medical assistant school and study. There are several medical assistant schools today because of the high demand for this job. The programs for MA are usually offered at a community college or a vocational school. Find and accredited school that will equip you with the proper knowledge and training.
- Study well and graduate the program. Before you can become a certified medical assistant, you have to complete the course requirements first and graduate. No course related to health care is considered a walk in the park. You will have to study many books and be familiarized with the terminologies that are commonly used in the medical field. You have to study in order to be familiar with the appropriate treatments as they relate to specific types of illnesses.
- Take the certification test and pass it. Unlike certified nursing assistant or CNA, a medical assistant does not need to be certified or licensed before she can apply for a job. However, most employers prefer that they are licensed and have passed the certification exam to show that they are competent enough and capable enough to do their tasks in the future. If you want to increase your odds of getting hired, you might as well take the certification exam. The exam will not be as difficult if you have studied well and made the proper preparations.
- Find a job and get hired. After you graduated, and you are now a certified medical assistant, you can now easily find a job. Many employers will hire you immediately if they can see that you’re highly educated, and you’ve passed the certification exam. The programs for MA will often last for one year if you are applying for the certificate or diploma, and 2 years for the associate degree. The common courses that are included in the program are physiology, medical terminologies, anatomy, and office lessons like transcription, accounting, typing, record keeping, and processing of insurance. Students under the program will also be familiarized with the laboratory techniques, pharmaceutical principles, first aid, diagnostic and clinical procedures, medication administration, office practices, medical law, ethics, and patient relations.
Most MA programs are made up of two portions: the classroom portion and the laboratory portion. The classroom portion is where students participate in lectures, discussions, and take down notes. On the other hand, the laboratory portion is where students will have a hands-on and clinical simulation in order to apply the theories that they have learned from their subjects in the classroom portion. As part of the course, before each student graduates, they are required to have a clinical internship in a hospital, clinic, or other medical canters, where she can apply what she learned in school. The clinical internship usually lasts for several weeks.
Medical Assistant Employment
As of 2006, there were about 417,000 medical assistants who were employed and most of them are working in physician’s offices. The medical jobs for medical assistants are estimated to grow faster when compared to other professions in 2012, according to a recent study. This is because of the growth of the health field and the advancement of medical technology. There are other factors that will cause the growth of the employment as well. Some of these factors include more clinics, more medical centers, and more hospitals. The technologies that will be used in the medical field will require the attention of the flexible medical assistants. Clinics, hospitals and medical centers will also need the support of medical assistants for clinical works, and secretarial works. Some opinions are that assistants who have a license or certification are more valuable than those who have not taken or passed their certification exams yet.
Medical Assistant Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of medical assistants in 2007 was $28,270. Those that are employed under the State government facilities have the highest annual average salary which is about $36,430.
Medical Assistant Certification
In order to become a licensed medical assistant, you need to pass the certification exam. The CMA (AAMA) is the highest medical assisting certification exam. If you passed this exam, it means that are you are acknowledged and credited by the American Association of Medical Assistants or AAMA. Passing this exam gives you more chances of being accepted in your job application.
To be able to take the exam, you have to apply first. There are certain qualifications before you can take the exam. First, you must be a recent graduate of an ABHES or CAAHEP medical assisting programs that are accredited, or you must be a non-recent graduate of an ABHES or CAAHEP accredited program. Graduating students are also allowed to apply for the examination. Second, you must also provide the proper documents that are required depending on your enrolment category. There is an examination fee that must be paid by everyone who will take the exam. Ninety five dollars is required for AAMA, CAAHEP, and ABHES applicants, while $170 is required for the other exams. The certification exam is done three times a year, usually in the months of January, June, and October. Computerized exams will be done because the paper and pencil type of exam ended on 2008.
Another exam that can be taken by a medical assistant is the American Medical Technologists Certification or AMTC. This examination is offered to those who are interested in becoming a registered medical assistant. The examinee must be a graduate of an accredited program and must have 5 years of hands-on experience in the medical field. The exam can be taken online on the official website of AMTC.
Passing the exam will not be as difficult as you think for as long you studied well while you were at your university or college. Learning does not stop when you graduate. You should review your studies often to refresh your memory so that you will do well in the certification exam. Once you become a licensed medical assistant, your chance of getting hired will increase exponentially.