Medical assistants are quickly becoming more and more popular as a profession across the country. Prospective candidates see that the market is experiencing notable growth and it gives them a chance to be part of a meaningful and long lasting career.
What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are arguably the backbone of the medical care industry. They work hand-in-hand with physicians and nurses to run medical offices and provide patients with world class healthcare. Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks including bookkeeping, maintaining office supplies inventory, scheduling patient appointments, maintaining medical history records, communicating with insurance companies, administering non-critical injections, operating x-ray equipment, cleaning medical tools and taking patient vitals.
Medical assistants can also help in locations other than physician’s offices and hospitals, they can work with insurance carriers, universities and research centers, so there are professional options for candidates with any kind of interest.
Why Become a Medical Assistant?
In addition to the gratification one feels by helping others, there are many other reasons to choose the medical assistant profession as a career, such as growth and salary.
The nation is seeing an increase in the number of available medical assistant jobs. In fact, by the year 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of medical assistant jobs to increase by 29%, which equates to about 162,900 additional jobs. There are several reasons for this expected growth: The Affordable Care Act has made healthcare more accessible to families who have not used it in the past; the country’s baby boomer population is aging, requiring more frequent care; and the list of tasks mentioned in the section above are increasing every year, causing the healthcare industry to rely very heavily on medical assistants as they continue to handle more responsibility.
The salary for medical assistants is competitive with the rest of the work force. In the census performed in 2010, it was discovered that 45% of the working population earns less than $25,000 per year, which is more than $4,000 less than the median wage of medical assistants nation-wide. Of course the salary largely depends on where a candidate lives, the level of education, certification status, and place of employment.
How Online Medical Assistant Programs Work
Online educational programs have increased in popularity over the last several years, becoming accepted as a viable method for those who can’t make it to physical classes or who have erratic schedules. There are a number of exceptional online medical assistant schools that offer associate degrees and certification for medical assistant students. Online programs accredited by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offer the same level of education that one could expect to get in top medical assistant schools.
The education typically consists of courses such as anatomy, physiology, medical ethics and law, medical terminology, how to take vitals, business management courses, and how to operate key lab equipment.
How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program for You
In order to choose one of the best medical assistant programs, students must first understand what it is they want out of their career. Do they see themselves doing more administrative duties or perhaps specializing in a field such as pediatrics or geriatrics, which require courses focused in the particular field? After students have determine what, if any, specialty to focus in, they must also determine if they are going to pursue a certification, such as becoming a Registered Medical Assistant, National Certified Medical Assistant, Certified Medical Assistant, or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant.
Once the student has chosen the type of medical assistant and level of certification that he/she wants, they can simply look for which accredited programs offer what they are looking for.
Types of Medical Assistant Programs
There are two main types of medical assistant programs, certification and associate degree programs. A certification program typically takes about one year, making it a little cheaper than a degree, but may not allow for credit transfer if a student chooses to pursue higher levels of education later. Getting an associate degree may be a little more expensive and time consuming, but it is also much easier to pursue higher degrees with. Also, candidates with a degree vs. a certificate may have a better chance of landing jobs.
There is certainly a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a profession. The medical assistant profession makes the choice a little bit easier though, with steep growth, comparable pay, and easy access to programs, the medical assistant career is a great choice for those who want job security and fulfillment.