Career Profile: Medical Assistant
Medical Assistants play a key role in the delivery of patient care in hospitals, clinics, outpatient care facilities, hospice centers, home care and more. Focused on supporting patients throughout medical treatment, Medical Assistants work with physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to guide patients through office visits and administer treatments.
Medical Assistants are often the first and last face patients see during doctor visits, making them an important part of the overall patient experience.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical Assistants are charged with a wide range of administrative and clinical tasks, including:
- Patient reception and admission
- Answering phones and emails
- Collecting and recording patient health history
- Filing insurance claims
- Managing patient flow through the healthcare facility
- Explaining treatments and doctor’s instructions to patients
- Drawing and preparing samples for testing
- Administering injections
- Taking and recording patient vital signs
Most Medical Assistant positions are full-time, with hours mostly during the day. Some positions may be part-time however, and others may require night and weekend hours. In most cases, the work is fast-paced, but highly rewarding.
What Do I Need to Become a Medical Assistant?
In many cases, certification is required to become a Medical Assistant. Candidates who successfully complete a certificate/diploma program may also be required to sit for, and pass, specific examinations, including the RMA, CMA and NCCT national registry certification exams before obtaining employment as a Medical Assistant.
Earning a certificate/diploma can be accomplished in as little as 9-12 months. Many Medical Assistants choose to obtain additional education and certifications as their careers progress, including Associate’s Degrees or additional certifications in specific areas of practice such as X-ray operation, Phlebotomy and EKG.
What Is the Employment Outlook for a Medical Assistant?
As with many healthcare careers, the outlook for Medical Assistants is largely positive. The aging population, coupled with advances in medical technology and treatments, has led to a steep rise in the need for qualified Medical Assistants.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for qualified Medical Assistants are expected to grow 23 percent between 2014 and 2024. In that time, nearly 140,000 new Medical Assistant jobs will become available to qualified candidates. Medical Assistant also ranks 71st among U.S. News and World Reports 100 Best Jobs.
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