Welcome to Medical Assistant Headquarters!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants are one of the fastest growing occupational fields, and the already high demand is projected to continue to rise over the next decade. This makes becoming a medical assistant a smart and viable career option for many individuals seeking employment that can be both personally and possibly financially rewarding in the long term.
Medical Assistant Job Description
Medical assistants are a type of multi-skilled health practitioners that are expected to perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks in the aid of the primary health practitioner or employer, usually a physician, chiropractor, podiatrist, optometrist etc. The job description would depend on the area of work. For example, medical assistants employed in small clinics would usually be expected to perform a broader range of tasks, while those that work in larger institutions such as hospitals tend to have more specialized duties to attend to. Medical assistant generally work in clean, well-lit areas, and may opt to work full-time or part-time, depending on their needs.
Administrative medical assistants perform secretarial, record keeping and book keeping tasks, differing from the average personal assistants in that they primary handle medically-related cases. Thus, they will be expected to perform additional specialized tasks such as filing and updating a patient’s clinical record, coordinating patient consults, examinations and hospital admissions, organizing patient billing, maintaining the clinic books, as well as accomplishing and filing insurance forms.
Clinical medical assistants provide even more specialized services such as obtaining the patient’s clinical history and vital signs, explaining medical procedures and preparing the patient for them, collecting laboratory specimens and even performing specific laboratory examinations, preparing and administering medications, preparing medical instruments equipment for use, and maintaining their cleanliness and functionality. However, medical assistants are not qualified to examine, diagnose and treat patients, despite physician supervision. This job description is ascribed to physician assistants instead.
Medical Assistant Training and Qualifications
To become a qualified medical assistant, you must undergo formal training in duly accredited training programs that may take just under a year, up to two years to complete. The basic requirement consists of a high school diploma or certificate of General Educational Development, however, certain technical standards in personal disposition, communications skills, and level of physicality and health are also upheld.
These medical assistant programs are comprised of medical and nonmedical courses that aim to provide prospective medical assistants with the administrative and clinical skills necessary for their field. In addition to theoretical learning, the trainees are expected to undergo unpaid practicum for a requisite number of hours before they become eligible to take the optional certification exam. Once these certificates are obtained, the medical assistant will then be qualified to perform a broader range of clinical tasks.
Medical Assistant Employment and Compensation Considerations
The booming health industry continually fuels the rising demand for medical assistants, especially since they are able fulfill multiple roles. Because of the very positive job outlook for the field, the prospect of getting employed after training is commensurately high. Certification and experience will give an added advantage for medical assistants seeking the best job opportunities.
As with all other fields of work, compensation will vary according to level of training, the presence of qualifications (certification), and years of experience. A medical assistant may earn from $10.01 up to $19.32 every hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mean annual wages ranged from $20,810 up to $40,190 in 2010. Higher annual mean wages were associated with employment in psychiatric and abuse hospitals ($39,220), dental clinics ($36,880), scientific research and development centers ($35,550), and insurance-related agencies (around $34,000). Slightly lower mean annual wages were associated with employment in general hospitals ($30,770), outpatient care providers ($30,490), physician clinics ($30,110), other ambulatory health care service providers ($28,730), clinics of other health practitioners($26,820), and general merchandise stores ($22,810).
Medical assistants are in high demand, and will continue to be in the succeeding years. Formal training and qualification will take a maximum of two short years. Now is the time to take advantage of this exciting and established career opportunity.