A boring career often leads many of us to make a change. You may be doing just that by researching jobs. You may want to consider how long does it take to become a medical assistant?
This field may be the right kind of career for you if you want to work in health care quickly. Well look at requirements, job duties, and description, and future growth for this fast-growing field.
Although you could get a job as a medical assistant at a physicians office and learn the skills, you may be better off spending 6 months to 2 years and becoming certified or registered and having an associates degree. Most states have no formal education requirements.
What is the Demand for Medical Assistants?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites the occupation of medical assistant as one of the faster growing allied health professions of the decade.
Employment is seen to rapidly increase by from 527,600 medical assistants in 2010 to 690,400 in 2020. This 31 percent projected growth by the end of the decade is fueled by the aging population and the demand for health care, according to the BLS.
A significant part of the doctors’ regular administrative and clinical functions may need to be delegated to medical assistants, thus, placing this occupational sector in unusually high demand in the health care and wellness industry.
Modernization and technological advances in the field of medicine has also modified the tasks and procedures involved in medical teams.
Patients’ health records need to be created in electronic files, which is an advancement over pen and paper charts.
In the 2010 data of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants earned a median annual wage of $28,860, with the top 10 percent earning more than $40,190.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Medical Assistant?
Although the responsibilities of medical assistants may vary depending on your skill levels, you can take a few steps to improve your overall skill-set of becoming a medical assistant.
- Finish high school because you should have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.
There are no specified educational requirements in most states.
But since you will be entering a competitive field, it will be to your advantage to have a formal medical assisting program from a community college, vocational school, or technical school in your locality.
Some schools offer 2-year associate degree programs, while others offer 1-year certificate programs.
The coursework will cover medical terminology, science and math, first aid, among many subjects.
Choose a program which is accredited because some certifying organizations require that applicants have completed accredited medical assisting programs. Certification will be discussed below.
- Seek on-the-job training from physicians or hospitals for real-world work experience.
The training may include interaction with patients, familiarizing with forms and administrative asks, coding, recording and completing electronic health records, and acquainting with clinical procedures and instruments.
- Apply for certification, not because it is required but because it is preferred by employers.
There are associations and organization that issue certification. You may need to take and pass an exam.
Some organizations only issue certification after you have completed an accredited program.
So before you enroll in any program, look ahead to the requirements imposed by certifying organizations. This way, you will steer clear of unpleasant surprises.
Be a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) under the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
To be qualified to take the certification examination, you must have completed an accredited medical assisting program and passed the certification examination.
Certification expires and has to be renewed after 5 years.
There are other certifications, such as the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), the National Certified Medical assistant (NCMA), and the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (NCMA) which do not require any formal education. Certification examinations are administered 3 times a year.
The educational requirement is not very rigorous and, in fact, only takes 1-2 years after high school.
What Does A Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants do the routine part of the doctors’ tasks. The scope of their practice depends much on the specialty area of the physician they work for; it also depends on if they are certified or registered and the legal scope of their practice defined by their jurisdiction.
Medical assistants usually assume administrative and/or clinical tasks. They may have the following responsibilities:
- Take the vital signs and record the medical history of the patient.
- Facilitate the conduct of patient examinations.
- Prepare samples for lab workup.
- Do injections and IV procedures.
- Schedule patients for appointments.
With the advent of electronic health records (EHR), the work of medical assistants has evolved.
They must update themselves and keep up with the pace. In doctors’ private clinics, medical assistants work on both the administrative and clinical aspects of the job.
In larger health facilities, such as hospitals, the responsibilities of medical assistants can fall under any of the following categories:
1. Administrative They help in assisting patients fill out hospital forms, enter codes and route documents. Sometimes, they are also designated in the procurement of hospital supplies and equipment.
2. Clinical Medical assistants may also be trained to perform basic laboratory examination, sterilize equipment and instruments, and oversee sanitation and disposal.
Their task may also involve giving home care, medication and diet instructions to patients, removing sutures, dressing wounds, preparing patients for procedures, or taking blood samples.
3. Ophthalmic or optometric When they work under ophthalmologists or optometrists, medical assistants may show patients basic eye care techniques and procedures, such as proper care of contact lenses and the correct way of inserting and removing lenses. They may also assist ophthalmologists during surgical operations.
4.Podiatric Medical assistants may assist in making castings or develop x-rays during surgeries under the supervision of podiatrists.
While the demand for medical assistants is growing, it is not a lucrative career.
Unless you are willing to invest more education and experience, advancement may be limited.
I hope this helps you learn about how long does it take to become a medical assistant.