Medical assistants essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $29,100
- 2011, number of jobs: 539,220
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 31 percent
- Entry level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
Medical assistants; what they do:
Medical assistants play a major part in keeping the offices of health care practitioners, such as physicians, podiatrists, and chiropractors running smoothly.
Although their duties vary, depending on the office they work in, a medical assistant career may include generally performing administrative work, such as scheduling patients, filing, and helping prepare patients for physicians through taking the patient’s medical history and measuring vital signs.
Medical assistant careers include helping physicians with patient examinations, giving patients injections as directed by the physician, and preparing blood work for the laboratory.
Medical assistants must learn how to use electronic health records; they’re quickly becoming the standard in medical offices.
In a larger practice or hospital, a medical assistant may specialize in one of the following: administrative medical assistant, clinical medical assistant, ophthalmic medical assistant, optometric assistant, or podiatric medical assistant.
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Medical assistants job titles:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- Doctor’s Assistant
- Medical Office Assistant
- Clinical Assistant
- Outpatient Surgery Assistant
- Optometric Technician
- Ophthalmic Technician
- Administrative Medical Assistant
Medical Assistants Education, Certification and License Requirements
Although there are no specific education requirements for beginning a medical assistant career, most medical assistants have at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer hiring medical assistants who graduated from a formal education program.
Community colleges, vocational and technical schools provide an Associate in Medical Assisting degree program or an Associate in Medical Assistant degree program and a one-year medical assistant certification or diploma program.
Some states require medical assistants to pass an exam before they can perform more advanced tasks, such as taking x-rays or giving injections.
Medical assistants typically receive a few months of on-the-job training from a physician or a more experienced medial assistant.
Medical assistant programs cover subjects such as:
- Medical terminology
- Health care law and ethics
- Office management
- Exam room procedures
Although medical assistant certification is not required for the occupation, passing a certified medical assistant exam provides an edge while job hunting, as employers tend to prefer hiring certified medical assistants.
A medical assistant can obtain certification from multiple organizations, with requirement ranging from graduating from an accredited program to passing a written exam.
Four different certifications exist for medical assistants: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA), and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).
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Medical Assistants Job Outlook
Forecast: 31 percent employment growth for medical assistants from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.
The large aging population increasingly requires physician services, which leads to hiring more medical assistants to help physicians manage the increasing administrative work. In some facilities employers hire medical assistants instead of nurses, who are more expensive to employ.
Medical assistants familiar with electronic health records (EHRs) increase their job marketability as EHRs are becoming the standard.
Medical Assistants Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $29,100
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $35,080
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $24,670
- Physician’s offices
- Health care facilities