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What is a Medical Assistant

December 18, 2013

A Medical Assistant works in the health field and performs administrative and medical tasks that assist nurses and physicians. Medical Assistants often work in doctor’s offices, but some of them work in hospitals as well. Some of the tasks they may perform include:

  • Administering medications and injections to patients
  • Measuring vital signs in patients
  • Giving patients important medical information
  • Collecting samples of bodily fluids and tissues for lab testing
  • Preparing a doctor’s medical instruments

On the administrative side, medical assistants may perform tacks such as:

  • Answering the phone
  • Updating patient medical records
  • Filling out paperwork related to medical insurance
  • Scheduling appointments for patients
  • Setting up hospital admission or lab services for patients
  • Handling billing and book keeping

Preparation and Training

what is a medical assistantOne of the benefits of a career in medical assisting is that it doesn’t require an extensive education. Someone interested in becoming a medical assistant has a couple of options in educational programs to pursue a career in medical assisting. The path to a career as a medical assistant could take as little as one year because some schools offer a one-year certificate programs. Others can take a different route by completing a two-year associate’s degree from an accredited school. The educational requirements for an aspiring medical assistant will include classes in math and science, medical billing, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. Depending on the program, a medical assistant student may have a clinical internship as part of their program. With a clinical internship, the student will work as a medical assistant in a medical clinic, gaining valuable experience. An important aspect to consider for anyone pursuing a career as a Medical Assistant is how their education will be funded. Potential students should explore options for financial aid.

Medical Assistant Certification

Students who complete the medical assisting program can sign up to take the certification exam to become a Certified Medical Assistant. The American Association of Medical Assistants offers the exam three times per year in January, June, and October, and the exam is taken on a computer. Certified Medical Assistants are required to renew their certification every five years. It is important to note that not every employer requires the CMA certification, so prospective medical assistants should be aware if this is a requirement for a job they are pursuing. Certified Medical Assistants typically have more job options to choose from than those who don’t have the certification.

Why Medical Assisting?

When it comes to looking for a career for which people are in high demand, medical assisting is one way to go. Medical Assistants are one of the fastest growing occupational needs in the United States. According to the expectations of the Bereau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the field of medical assisting will expand by 31% from 2010 to 2020. An added benefit is the nature of the work itself. Medical Assistants have the opportunity to genuinely help people on a daily basis. They can make a real difference in people’s lives. They are also trained in a variety of tasks, so skill development is always a part of the job.

Because Medical Assistants are in high demand and many find the work to be personally rewarding, a career in medical assisting is a smart pursuit for someone looking to help people on a daily basis, work steady hours, and receive steady pay. The path is clearly laid out and takes as little as one to two years to complete.