Medical assistants do a variety of things in a medical office. They are trusted with medical documents and must have strong organizational skills. In addition, depending on the size of the medical practice, they may take on the clerical duties as well.
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Medical Assisting Schools By State
Education and Training Requirements
Most medical assistants need to complete a two year degree, obtaining an Associates Degree or a certificate. Sometimes this is not a requirement of the job. However, base education includes a high school diploma or the equivalent. In many cases, volunteer work that is done in the medical field, such as in hospitals or nursing homes, provides an added boost when applying for a medical assistant position. Typical training for medical assistants includes laboratory procedures, medical terminology, medical office procedures and clinical procedures. Other courses that might be valuable include insurance claim processing and anatomy. While in many cases on the job training is provided, a formal background of education is usually recommended as well as preferred by prospective employers. In addition, as technological advances are rapidly made, medical assistants usually are required to continually update their education to stay up to date with the latest in technology and patient care.
Salary Information and Job Growth
According to 2007 statistics, medical assistants make approximately $28,000 per year. While employers vary on their pay scale, it appears that state government owned facilities are the higher paying employer with medical assistants earning an average of $36,000 per year.*
The availability of positions for medical assistants is expected to continue to grow rapidly. As advances in technology as well as a longer expected life span increase the number of medical facilities available, the job grow with continue. Medical assistants often migrate into other medical professions. Those with clerical abilities generally have more job prospects that those without. Administrative medical assistants have the opportunity to move into positions such as an office manager without obtaining further training. Those wishing to become nurses or other health care positions need to continue with formal training to do so.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
In general, a medical assistant is someone who will bring patients into the examination room to await the doctor. They may be required to perform basic data collection such as height, weight, blood pressure and temperature for the doctor to review. Usually the medical assistant will also ask the patient various questions about their overall health and the reason for their visit. This is all communicated to the doctor. It is important that the medical assistant have good organizational skills to ensure everything is done properly and tracked appropriately.
As with all medical related professions, a medical assistant also faces health related dangers in their profession. Due to increases in the number of contagious diseases as well as other illnesses that one is exposed to, medical assistants need to monitor their own health closely. Exposure to all contagious diseases is possible and in some areas highly probable. In addition, medical assistants may be required to do much lifting and bending while assisting a patient and or a physician. For this reason, it is vital that medical assistants maintain their physical fitness and health.
Medical assistants are typically required to spend much time on their feet, walking to and from rooms while moving patients through the office. In addition, there is a high stress level associated with nearly all medical positions. Also, because a medical assistant is required to work directly with patients, good communication skills are necessary. One must be cheerful and polite with the patients. This too can cause high stress levels for some.
Other Job Opportunities
Due to the various types of training that medical assistants have as well as additional on the job training they receive, there are other positions that medical assistants can enjoy. Medical transcription is one as well as medical office manager, and administrative medical assistant. Moving to other related fields such as nursing will require additional training and certification, but as a medical assistant you will learn many of the skills necessary to be able to move into nursing seamlessly. Medical assistants that have both medical and clerical skills are in high demand and have the best of the job prospects available today. As time moves forward, this trend is expected to continue.
Medical assistants can work in a variety of medical fields as well as a medical assistant. They can choose to specialize in podiatry, pediatrics, emergency care or stay within the general practice. Each specialty has its own class of specialized training that is necessary to perform the task. For example, a medical assistant may choose to be an x-ray technician. Therefore specialized training in the taking of x-rays is required. Medical assistants can work in any number of fields with the general training as well. As long as the medical assistant is not doing any specialized work, they can work in just about any type of medical office.