Benefits of Being A Medical Assistant

A good medical assistant (MA) is one of the most important support people a doctor has.

The occupation has been around since the 1950s and demand remains high. Health care is a booming industry, and while not totally recession-proof, is one area in which jobs are usually available all over the country.

What’s a Medical Assistant?

An MA is an unlicensed caregiver who works under the supervision of a doctor or licensed nurse. MA training incorporates the basics of patient care in the outpatient arena and includes such courses as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and pharmacology. MAs can give medications, perform in-office lab tests and draw blood. Their primary focus is to support the doctor. A career as a medical assistant has a number of benefits.

Short-Term Education Requirements

Many medical assisting programs can be completed within 12 months. If you choose to focus on either administrative medical assisting (front office) or clinical medical assisting (back office) instead of both, you could cut that time in half. Even an associate degree program only takes 18 months to two years. In most states, you can even train on the job, although a formal credential usually opens more occupational doors.

Flexibility of Work Settings
Medical assistants are more likely to work in doctor’s offices, although in a few states, they are allowed to work in hospitals and nursing homes. However, outpatient clinics offer another option. Even for those MAs who work in the traditional doctor’s office, the medical specialty can vary widely from pediatrics to dermatology to oncology. Your MA credential is also recognized across the country, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of a new licensing exam if you move to another state.

It’s a Growing Occupation
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs in most occupations will increase about 7 percent between now and 2024. Medical assisting jobs, however, are expected to grow 23 percent in the same period. The aging baby boomer population is a big driver in this growth – people are living longer, but they also have more chronic medical problems and require regular care.

You Make Personal Connections
Whether it’s working as part of a diverse team or connecting directly with patients, medical assisting is a very people-oriented occupation. You’ll be constantly honing your listening and communication skills while learning how to educate and support your patients. You must be able to work with and build rapport with many different people.

Transferable Skills
Whether you stay in the medical assisting field or go on to something else, many of your skills are highly transferable. For example, a busy medical practice is a complex, fast-paced environment. You’ll need good organizational skills and attention to detail. People skills are also transferable. If you plan to advance in the health care field, many of your clinical skills will transfer.

Reasonable Hours
Most doctor’s offices and clinics operate on a normal eight-hour business schedule. Unlike hospitals, they aren’t likely to be working holidays or weekends. Some organizations do have Saturday or evening hours, however, so look around before you settle on a particular job. Regular hours can make it much easier to arrange the rest of your life and have better work-life balance.

No matter where you work, you are highly unlikely to find being a medical assistant boring. Your role may change depending on the doctor’s specialty. Especially in a small office, you may be performing a variety of tasks, from scheduling appointment to helping with procedures to coding and billing. There’s infinite variety in patients as well, from the child with a gap-toothed grin to the elderly lady who knits in the waiting room.

Some people choose to stay in medical assisting for many years. Their idea of advancing might be to become an office manager or a team leader in a large clinic. Others see medical assisting as the springboard to a career in nursing or another health-related field like respiratory therapy or even medicine. Medical assisting gives you a solid background in health care if you decide to pursue other options.

Important Medical Assistant Certifications

CMA Certification

The CMA (AAMA) credential designates a medical assistant who has achieved certification through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The CMA has been educated and tested in a wide scope of general, clinical, and administrative responsibilities as outlined in the Occupational Analysis of the CMA (AAMA).

RMA Credential

The Registered Medical Assistant credential, or RMA, is offered through the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Candidates must meet one of these requirements: recent graduate of an accredited program, recent graduate of a medical program through the United States Armed Forces, five years of experience as a medical assistant, meet requirements for instruction of a medical assistant training program, or prove completion of another approved medical assistant certification.

How Much Does a Trained Medical Assistant Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a trained medical assistant mean salary was $15.79 per hour or $32,850 per year. As with any occupation, a medical assistant salary is dependent on the job, employer location, and level of experience. Medical assistant salary is usually implemented in the form of hourly wages, which will increase based on skill level, knowledge, and experience.