Medical Assisting: Career Outlooks and Advice

For those interested in entering the medical field, a job as a medical assistant can be an excellent way to make this happen. Unlike many other positions in the medical field, medical assistants typically don’t need to go through years upon years of expensive schooling before beginning their careers. As such, this particular position can be a great opportunity for those who want to practice in the medical field without spending years in school.

What is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants do a little bit of everything at a medical practice. Typically, they’re among the first people (aside from the workers at the front desk) that a patient encounters, so medical assistants play a vital role in making a patient feel comfortable and making a good first impression.

The roles of a medical assistant are wide in scope, which is great for those who like having a little bit of variety in their day-to-day working lives. Specifically, the daily duties of a medical assistant can include any or all of the following:

  • Answering phones
  • Helping patients fill out paperwork
  • Filing insurance forms
  • Drawing blood
  • Recording medical histories
  • Administering vaccinations

Basically, a medical assistant plays a vital role not only in the logistical operations of a medical office, but in a patient’s health as well.

Medical Assistant Schooling Requirements

While becoming a medical assistant doesn’t require several years of schooling, there is some formal education required of those who want to enter the field. Technically, a person can become a medical assistant without any formal education, but many employers these days are beginning to require either a diploma or degree in medical assisting.

Generally, courses in a medical assisting program cover topics of study such as anatomy, phlebotomy, and medical terminology. The length of time it takes a person to complete a program of study in medical assisting can vary based on a number of factors, such as how many courses they take per semester and whether or not they need to re-take any courses.

Typically, a diploma in medical assisting takes about 15 months, whereas an actual degree in medical assisting takes a little longer–usually about 19 months. These estimates are based on a student enrolled full-time. Still, both of these programs can be completed in well under two years.

Finding Work After Completing School

The good news for those interested in this field is that the demand for people qualified to work in this position is high, and it’s only predicted to grow over time.

One main reason for the recent growth in demand for medical assistants is the fact that the “baby boomer” generation is beginning to get to an age where they’re more likely to need medical treatment. As a result, many hospitals and other medical practices are looking to hire more medical assistants and other office staff to keep up with the growing demand for care.

Because of this high demand, those who successfully complete their degree or diploma programs generally have no trouble landing a job shortly after graduation. There are so many things a person can do with a medical assisting degree or diploma. A few examples of possible positions include:

  • Medical Receptionist
  • Surgery Scheduler
  • Pediatric Assistant
  • Medical Secretary

Therefore, no matter which specific niche in the medical field a person is interested in entering, they can be sure to find job opportunities that meet their needs.

Plus, once a person has the schooling desired by many medical offices to become a medical assistant, they can typically practice in any state. The same cannot be said for some other careers, which require certification or licensing that’s only good in the state from which it was obtained. This is great for those who don’t like to stay in one place for too long but still want to be able to find a job no matter where they live.

When it comes to salaries, expectations can vary depending on where the person works and how much experience he or she has. Generally, medical assistants start out making around $30,000 per year. However, some make in excess of $40,000 per year as they gain more experience. According to a US News World Report, physicians’ offices tend to pay their medical assistants the largest salaries.

Tips for Becoming a Medical Assistant

Because news of medical assistants being in high demand is quickly spreading, there is bound to be at least some competition in the field in the coming years. As such, there are some tips that all aspiring medical assistants can keep in mind to help improve their chances for career success once they’re working in the field.

For starters, medical assistants need to be able to quickly assess a patient and get an idea of what kinds of tests the doctor or a nurse may need to perform. Furthermore, medical assistants need to be well organized; this means always having a patient’s medical history record readily available when they enter the exam room. After all, a patient’s medical history can tell a medical assistant a lot about what kinds of tests may be needed.

Furthermore, these days, no two medical providers are alike in the way they do business. Therefore, all medical assistants will need to be adaptable to their surroundings. Most practices have their own unique ways of doing things, such as keeping patient records and even writing down information about a person’s vital signs. Medical assistants should never assume that the way things are done in one office will carry over to the next.

Finally, successful medical assistants must always keep in mind that they’re most likely the first person a patient will meet when coming into the practice. This means that it’s important for them to make a positive first impression, whether it’s answering a phone call to schedule an appointment, greeting patients at the door when they arrive, or giving them a needed vaccination. Medical assistants tend to spend a lot of one-on-one time with patients (sometimes even more so than doctors), so knowing how to communicate with others and being compassionate are both important job skills.

A career as a medical assistant can be a great choice for those who enjoy helping others and who want to get into the medical field. Since schooling to become a medical assistant can be completed in as little as 15 months, this is a wonderful choice for people who want to get straight to working in the field.