Want to be a Medical Assistant? Here is what you need to know.

The job outlook for medical assistants is booming, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is expected to grow 29% from 2012 to 2022. Medical assistants are a vital part of the healthcare system, completing administrative work as well as some clinical tasks to assistant other health care professionals. Most medical assistants work full-time at clinics or hospitals, making a median annual salary of $29,370 in 2012 (top earners make more than $41,570).
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Want to be a Medical Assistant? Here is what you need to know.

Want to be a Medical Assistant?

Those looking to make a career switch would do well to consider becoming a medical assistant if they have a proclivity for helping those in need. As the healthcare industry continues to grow, medical assistants will become even more of a valuable commodity in all kinds of different medical facilities. Giving those who are trained medical assistants a great deal of job security.

There is also the chance to climb the healthcare industry ladder, moving on from being a medical assistant to other jobs with higher pay.

The healthcare industry is in great need of medical assistants and other support position staff. If you have a passion for caring for others, becoming a doctor, nurse, or dentist is not the only way to have a successful career in the medical field. Many of the support staff positions do not require a four year university degree, but a High School degree with one or more certifications.

This is a great line of work for mom’s who have found themselves in the position of raising their kids on their own. Many of the job offerings you will find are during normal business hours, giving you the time at home with your children in the evenings and on the weekends.

Anyone fresh out of high school who is unsure of going to a four year university could quickly become certified as a medical assistant to support themselves, while maybe deciding on a four year university. Or– entering into the healthcare industry could become a lifelong and lucrative career without all the student debt.

Job Duties of a Medical Assistant

Medical assistants must be quick-thinking and able to complete a variety of health-relevant tasks. Although duties vary by setting, some common job duties of medical assistants include:

  • Recording patients’ medical history and personal information
  • Measuring blood pressure, height, weight, and other vital signs
  • Assisting a physician or chiropractor with patient examinations
  • Scheduling appointments and handling administrative work
  • Preparing blood and other samples for laboratory processing
  • Entering and maintaining patient records, often in an electronic medical record system

Depending on how large or small the medical office or facility you work in is, there may be additional job duties as a medical assistant, or less than listed here.

Speaking a second language is a highly desired skill, especially in Texas, especially if that second language is Spanish. As a medical assistant, you may be paid a higher wage if you speak Spanish and can help translate for doctors and nurses during patient appointments. In this kind of role you would have a great deal of patient interaction, indeed more so than a normal medical assistant.

One of the important courses you will take is to become certified in HIPAA. These are the privacy rules and regulations for the entire healthcare industry. As a medical assistant you will have access to private medical information of your patients, and the handling of that information is extremely important. It must not be taken out of the office or left unattended where you aren’t completely sure who has or has not seen this information. Any medical office or facility you work for will require you to have this training, as it can not only affect your career, but the reputation of the doctors and nurses and staff where you work.

Another rather basic training will be CPR. Even if you work in a facility where you have less patient interaction, it is a good idea to have this life saving training, so that if there ever was an emergency, you would be able to help the patient or patients until more medical staff arrived.

Educational Requirements

Medical assistants must hold at least a high school diploma. Community colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools often offer medical assistant certificate programs that take approximately one year to complete. In addition to postsecondary certificate programs, some associate’s degree programs in medical assisting are available. Prerequisites for these programs include a high school background in biology, chemistry, anatomy, and other sciences.

Board Certification Options

After completing relevant educational requirements, some individuals choose to become board-certified medical assistants. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, which oversees certifying bodies to ensure their excellence, recognizes five accredited certifications for medical assistants:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. Eligible applicants must complete an accredited program and pass a rigorous 200-question exam.
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), offered by the American Medical Technologists. Eligible individuals must demonstrate an educational background or relevant work experience to become certified.
  • National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA), offered by the National Center for Competency Testing. Eligible individuals with the required educational background or relevant work history must demonstrate competence in clinical and administrative aspects of medical assisting.
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), offered by the National Healthcareer Association. This certification exam covers many of the clinical duties (e.g., recording vital signs, administering injections) that a medical assistant may perform.
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA), offered by the National Healthcareer Association. This certification exam covers many of the administrative duties (e.g., maintaining patient records, scheduling appointments) that a medical assistant may perform.

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Although certification is not required for all medical assistant positions, some employers may prefer to recruit board-certified medical assistants. Certified individuals may also command a higher salary than their non-certified counterparts.

Required Skills and Training

Many medical assistants receive on-the-job training in their duties. This may include learning medical terminology, interacting with patients, maintaining paper or electronic medical records, scheduling and administrative tasks, and taking vital signs.

Effective medical assistants have strong analytical skills and are highly detail oriented. They must be able to follow complex medical charts, code medical records for billing, and precisely record information. The technical skills to accurately use basic clinical instruments are also needed. Perhaps most importantly, medical assistants must have strong interpersonal skills that allow them to interact professionally with patients and fellow health care professionals.

When you enter the job market to become a medical assistant, if you already have certifications most medical offices and facilities require, you will have an edge over your competition that does not have any certification or training. Anyone in the healthcare industry is going to go with a candidate that has gone through training to become certified, knowing that their on the job training will take much less time and cost much less money.

How You Can Achieve Your Medical Assistant Career Goal

Now you know what to expect if you are trying to become a medical assistant, let’s talk about how you get there.

CCI Training Center has all the courses you will need to take to be able to walk into the certification exam room confidently and pass your certification exams with flying colors. Many of our dedicated students have even finished their training in around 8 months. You won’t have to wait four years to start your new career with CCI Training Center.

Our instructors have all worked in the healthcare industry. This means you’ll be getting real world advice that will help you not only pass the certification exams, but give you resume building skills, interview skills, and on the job skills only someone who has hands on experience can give you. They can also guide you to the best kinds of positions based on the skills they have seen you develop and exceed in during your training.

At CCI Training Center, we have courses that are offered year round. We know you don’t want to wait until fall semester to get started on your higher standard of living. No matter when you decide to take the leap, there will be a course starting soon at CCI Training Center to become a medical assistant.

Generally, our courses only require one or two days a week at CCI Training Center. Most of our students have other responsibilities, including rent, a mortgage, and children. These mean students can’t stop working in their current job to get the training they need to begin a new career. CCI Training Center respects your valuable time and we pack as much as we can into the least amount of time possible. Education should be available to everyone and making it convenient is a part of our mission.

When you’re ready to get on your way to your new career, fill out a form online to get all the information about our CCI Training Center Medical Assistant Certification program. Our administrative staff is ready to answer any and all questions you may have about what steps you need to take to start the program today!

Written By

Martin Zandi

A committed leader in the career education industry, Martin enjoys working with the community and colleagues in further improvement and expansion of education programs to improve outcomes.

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