Medical assistants are an increasingly popular career option for individuals who want a stable and satisfying career in the medical industry, but do not wish to pursue becoming a doctor or nurse.
What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical Assistants are professional individuals who work alongside nurses and physicians to provide care and support for patients. There are several different types of medical assistants, including: clinical medical assistants, administrative medical assistants, and specialized medical assistants.
Medical assistants are among the fastest growing career options in the United States. In fact, the profession as a whole is expected to grow by 29% by the year 2022, which is much faster than average. The growth is due to several factors, including: the increased availability of healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, the nations “Baby Boomers” are getting older and causing a surge in care requirements, and medical offices are leaning on medical assistants for more support than ever.
Clinical Medical Assistants
A clinical medical assistant (CMA) typically assists the physician in providing care to patients by performing necessary tasks that a medical degree is not necessarily required for. For example, CMAs often take and document patient vitals, manage inventory of medical supplies, and assist the physician by preparing patients for operations.
These professionals are required to know a great deal about medical practices and patient care, which is why new changes to the field require CMAs to have more than a high school education. As with any other profession, the more education you receive, the broader your job opportunities are. There are many options for individuals to obtain further education and certification to become a CMA. For example, most standard and online colleges and universities in the country offer a variety of medical assistant programs.
In standard degree or certification programs, CMAs will learn about anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and medical rules and regulations. Administrative content will also be covered, as many small offices require the clinical medical assistant to act as the administrative assistant as well.
Administrative Medical Assistants
An administrative medical assistant is similar to a CMA in the sense that they each are responsible for the smooth operation of a medical establishment. Where the two positions differ is in main job responsibilities. Administrative medical assistants do not interact with patients from a care perspective. They are mainly concerned with documenting and filing the patient’s health history and insurance information, scheduling appointments, managing office supplies, and performing bookkeeping duties for the office. These positions require candidates who are personable, friendly, and professional, as they will be considered the face of the company. They will be required to multi-task and perform well in high stress and fast paced environments.
Though many businesses only require their administrative assistants to have a high school diploma or an equivalent, medical offices typically require candidates to have undergone formal education or training.
There are many administrative medical assistant programs offered in traditional and online colleges and universities across the country. Typical programs teach students how to work with medical software and computer programs, perform light bookkeeping, learn basic medical terminology, perform medical coding, and manage a typical medical office.
Specialized Medical Assistants
Specialized medical assistants are similar to CMAs, they deal directly with patient care under the guidance and supervision of a physician. Specialized medical assistants may get more responsibility and freedom in the respect due to their specialized training and practice.
Some specialized medical assistant options include: oncology, family medicine, internal medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology. It is important that you take time to decide on a specialty that you are passionate about before committing to further education since your coursework will be specific to your chosen specialty and a switch to another specialty will likely require additional education.
One draw-back to becoming a specialized medical assistant is the fact that your chosen program may not be as widely available as that of a clinical or administrative medical assistant. However, due to the exclusivity of the position, jobs are usually higher paying and offer incredible growth opportunities.
It is apparent that the medical assistant profession is endless with opportunity and room for personal development. One thing prospective candidates should be aware of, is that not all programs are accredited with the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, so it is necessary to research an institution before enrolling. The profession is one that is seeing incredible growth and will continue to provide stable income to excellent candidates. Check out your local college or browse online schools to begin your journey to becoming a medical assistant today!