Becoming a Medical Assistant

A Medical Assistant is an Integral Part of a Healthcare Team

Becoming a medical assistant is a great career option if you are looking to work in the healthcare field. Medical assisting allows you to carry out important medical tasks such as collecting vital signs while also taking care of administrative tasks such as collecting information from patients. It is a career that requires the ability to multitask and one that has the potential to grow as demands for medical assistants increase every year. If this sounds like a good career fit for you, then your career goals are within reach by completing a few simple steps.

Step 1: Get Trained

There are two options for becoming a medical assistant: on-the-job training or completing an accredited training program at a vocational college. Each option has it’s pros and cons. On-the-job training requires that you have a high school diploma or GED, and you must also find a doctor’s office that is willing to train you . While this option will allow you to earn money as a medical assistant right away, it requires patience and persistence since many employers are hesitant about hiring someone with no experience. Going via the vocational college also requires a high school diploma or GED but takes more time. Medical assistant programs range from one to two years depending if you would like get a certificate or an associate’s degree upon graduation. Courses cover subjects such as anatomy and medical terminology as well as more administrative topics like typing, insurance processing, and record keeping. Programs also have a lab component in which students learn about lab techniques and various diagnostic procedures. Some may even provide practical experience at affiliated medical offices. Aside from the vast knowledge acquired, completing this vocational program makes you eligible for certification.

Step 2: Get Certified

It is important to know that certification is not necessary to work; however it is preferred by most employers. Certified medical assistants also generally get offered higher salaries. The reason for this is that certification helps to assure that you are familiar with certain competencies as related to medical assisting; it serves as a type of voucher that you can perform the duties associated with being a medical assistant. In order to sit for the certification, you must first complete an accredited program at an accredited school. Then you must register to take exam. While there are various exams, the CMA (AAMA) is the medical assisting certification exam with the most prestige. You can register for this exam online by providing some basic information, providing certain documentation, and paying the examination fee. The exam is offered three times a year and is done entirely on the computer.

Step 3: Get a Job

Once you have your diploma and certification in hand, you are ready to find a job as a medical assistant. Medical assisting is a fast growing field that is predicted to grow 35% by 2016 so many opportunities should be available to you. Begin your job hunting process by updating your resume with your newly acquired credentials. Next, prepare for the interviews that will likely come your way. Make sure you are ready to answer questions regarding your general medical knowledge, your practical training, and also regarding your problem solving and organizational skills. Lastly, apply to various types of offices in order to increase your chances of acquiring a position. Medical assistants work in chiropractic and podiatry offices as well so don’t limit your applications to only physician offices. To find a great job it is necessary to keep your options open and not limit the places you apply to.

Overall, becoming a medical assistant is a relatively simple process that requires your time, effort, and dedication. The profession offers much experience as part of the health care team as well as good compensation. If you choose this as your career path, you will find yourself working in one of the most promising and widely sought after careers in healthcare.


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