If you’re considering becoming a medical assistant, becoming educated and certified is an important first step. Choosing the right medical assisting school to get the best education and credentials is key to ensuring your success in the field. Here we’ll discuss the variety of options and considerations when selecting a medical assisting school so you can make an educated decision about where to enroll and begin your journey to success.
There are a number of accredited medical assisting schools available that offer comprehensive programs leading to certification as a medical assistant. Search online for schools in your area, or contact your local community college or vocational school for more information.
What is Medical Assisting?
Medical assisting is an important role in healthcare services. It involves providing assistance to medical personnel such as physicians, registered nurses and other health care professionals in a variety of duties. By assisting in the delivery of patient care, medical assistants can play a vital part in providing quality care in a timely manner.
The role of a medical assistant often requires paying close attention to detail and completing many tasks, from scheduling patient appointments and gathering medical histories to handling administrative and clerical roles to helping patients with minor medical procedures. Medical assistants must have a high level of knowledge about health conditions and procedures as well as familiarity with medical terminology and insurance codes in order to properly carry out their duties. They should also be excellent communicators and possess strong interpersonal skills since they are typically required to interact with diverse groups such as patients, staff and physicians.
Additionally, successful medical assistants must demonstrate maturity and professionalism in the workplace. These qualities help ensure the necessary level of trust between healthcare providers and their patients in delivering the best overall quality of care. With these attributes and knowledge, medical assistants can then make valuable contributions to delivering top-notch healthcare services.
Technology is making its way into both the practice and the classroom. While core courses rely on lecture-based instruction and hands-on experiences, more specialized courses offer opportunities for students to learn how to use electronic health records, digital x-rays, computerized lab results, etc. This technology brings an additional layer of challenge and opportunities for those looking to become medical assistants.
Now that we have a better idea of what the profession entails, we will look into the type of education it takes so that one can become qualified for this field—namely what kinds of courses prospective medical assistants should study?
What Kinds of Courses Do Medical Assistants Need to Study?
Now that you have an understanding of what medical assisting is, the next step is to determine which courses a medical assistant must take. Generally, a medical assistant will need to study topics such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and coding, medical office operations, patient care, pathology, pharmacology, and radiology. An all-encompassing program should cover all of these areas and beyond, ensuring that graduates are well prepared to immediately enter the work field upon completion.
Furthermore, it might be beneficial for aspiring medical assistants to pursue programs with specialization components. This would allow them to receive extra training in areas that interest them most, such as advanced laboratory procedures or physical exam techniques. Specialization courses could also help specialists hone their skills in a specific area of expertise before sitting for their certification exams in those fields.
It’s important for prospective students to thoroughly review the curriculum of each school they’re considering and determine whether its offerings match up with their needs and career goals. Those who want additional flexibility may opt for online courses so they can conveniently complete their studies from anywhere at any time. Alternatively, traditional classrooms offer face-to-face interaction with instructors who can provide assistance throughout the program.
Whichever path you choose, gaining adequate knowledge and experience in the abovementioned areas is key to becoming a successful medical assistant. With this information in mind, let’s look more closely at specific areas where certified medical assistants must demonstrate expertise.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for medical assistants in 2020 was $35,720.
- The Education Pays report by The College Board found that those with an associate degree in medical assisting earn 20.4% more than a high school graduate (on average).
- A study by PayScale found that medical assistants with an Associate’s degree earned between $24,055 and $44,567 per year in 2019.
Areas of Study for Medical Assistants
Medical assistants need to understand the medical principles, pathology, and anatomy that are foundational to the medical field. Medical fundamentals and medical terminology courses consist of the basics of medical technology, healthcare settings, safety precautions and general patient care. With this knowledge, medical assistants can help physicians diagnose patients by gathering their vital medical history and other related details. Additionally, clinical laboratory classes provide instruction about laboratory testing procedures used in diagnostics as well as administrative courses for medical coding and billing.
The abilities a medical assistant must possess in order to be successful at their job is one of the most important considerations when choosing a school. In addition to the core understanding of medicine, administrative proficiency is also key. These include scheduling appointments and managing paperwork such as claims processing, though they may vary depending on where a prospective student resides. It’s important to research the certifications needed in your area before making any decisions on a program.
When deciding to pursue an education in medical assisting, it’s important to factor in all aspects of what you will need to know to be successful in this role. While taking into account the scholarly side of the study, be sure you are familiar with your local regulations and healthcare requirements too. This comprehensive approach ensures that you have developed the necessary skillsets for success on top of having achieved your chosen credentials from an accredited program. With this information in mind ensuring you make informed choices about your educational journey toward becoming a successful medical assistant should be made easier.
Having discussed the necessary components that comprise an education in medical assisting it is now pertinent to explore possible options for furthering skillsets beyond the basics that can open more doors within this domain. Advanced specializations that can make someone stand out when applying for various roles within medical assistance may be found through researching different schools or programs available for further exploration into this field.
What Are the Differences Between Certifications Available?
Medical assistants have two main certification options: the Certified Medical Assistant certification, which is issued by the American Association of Medical Assistants and requires applicants to have graduated from an accredited medical assisting program or completed a formal medical assisting education program; and the Registered Medical Assistant certification, which is issued by the American Medical Technologists and requires applicants to hold either a high school diploma or equivalent, have completed an approved medical assisting program of at least one year in length, or pass scores on all five categories of the AMT Certification Examination. Training programs provide students with hands-on experiences that prepare them for a career in healthcare.
Now that you understand the importance of choosing an accredited education program, it is time to consider the prospective career opportunities available with a medical assisting degree. Many people are attracted to pursuing a career as a medical assistant because of the excellent salary and job outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical assistants is projected to increase by 23% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for other occupations. Additionally, the median annual wage for medical assistants in May 2020 was reported to be $35,720.
Those who pursue a medical assistant degree can find many opportunities available in hospitals, community health centers, private practices, long-term care facilities, and other medical settings. Depending on their role and where they work, medical assistants can be involved in clinical or administrative duties such as taking patients’ vital signs, drawing blood samples and administering injections, performing diagnostic procedures with Electrocardiograms (ECGs) or laboratory tests, informing patients about necessary treatments, filing and updating health records and insurance paperwork/billing information, coordinating patient scheduling and services provided by other healthcare providers. Depending on the state they are practicing in, they may also be able to perform more complex tasks such as x-raying areas of injury or administering medications orally.
As the healthcare industry continues to grow and evolve so does the demand for well-trained professionals who have expertise in both clinical and administrative roles. With both knowledge of the healthcare profession and a commitment to providing quality patient care, those with a medical assisting degree have an advantage when competing for jobs in this field. Becoming certified as a Medical Assistant (CMA) can be an effective way of demonstrating competency and gaining credibility among employers. Doing so not only equips individuals with additional skills but also helps give them a competitive edge when looking for employment or when transferring between states or positions.