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Why Be a Medical Assistant?

A career as a medical assistant (MA) offers many opportunities.  As a multi-skilled professional, an MA is a valuable asset to a physician and an integral part of the healthcare team, helping to manage patient care.

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians and other health practitioners. They work under the supervision of a more senior caregiver such as physician, registered nurse, or licensed vocational nurse.

Although there are no formal educational or licensure requirements to be an Medical Assistant, earning a certificate in medical assisting can be helpful in your career. Some have associate degrees, others have completed training programs such as the 10-month fast-track course offered at 11 Charter College campuses. In addition, there is always a great deal of on-the-job training.

As a medical assistant, you may have dual roles, performing both clerical work and working directly with patients. Most work a 40-hour week. Some of the tasks you may be called upon to perform are as follows:

  • Schedule patient appointments and greet patients.
  • File insurance forms and interact with insurance companies.
  • Record patients' medical history, vital statistics or information such as test results in medical records.
  • Convert charts to electronic charting, moving patient information online with an electronic health records system.
  • Authorize drug refills and provide prescription information to pharmacies.
  • Prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations.
  • Show patients to examination rooms and prepare them for the physician.
  • Interview patients to obtain medical information and measure their vital signs, weight, and height.
  • Clean and sterilize instruments and dispose of contaminated supplies.
  • Prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician.
  • Explain treatment procedures, medications, diets or physician instructions to patients.
  • Help physicians examine and treat patients, handing them instruments or materials or performing such tasks as giving injections or removing sutures.
  • Collect blood, tissue, or other laboratory specimens, log the specimens, and prepare them for testing.

Most medical assistants are employed in physicians’ offices and urgent care clinics, but there are other settings in which you may be hired. In hospitals, MAs usually work as medical administrative assistants or medical secretaries.

Some MAs specialize in a specific type of medical office. For example, ophthalmic medical assistants and optometric assistants help provide eye care by showing patients how to handle contact lenses. Ophthalmic medical assistants may also help an ophthalmologist in surgery. Podiatric medical assistants may make casings of feet, expose and develop X-rays, and help podiatrists in surgery.

This is a fast-growing field with employment expected to grow by 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased demand will stem from more MAs being hired to do routine administrative and clinical duties so that doctors can see more patients.1,2

Also contributing to job growth are the technological innovations happening in the medical industry, as well as an increasing elderly population needing more attention from primary healthcare providers.

More physicians are practicing in groups, there are more clinics and other forms of healthcare facilities, and there is a nursing shortage. All this means more medical support personnel are currently needed, adding up to great career opportunities for medical assistants.

Sources:

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Medical Assistants, 
retrieved 5/22/15, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm.

2. O*NET OnLine, created for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, by the National Center for O*NET Development. “Medical Assistants,” retrieved 5/22/15, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00.

A career as a medical assistant (MA) offers many opportunities.  As a multi-skilled professional, an MA is a valuable asset to a physician and an integral part of the healthcare team, helping to manage patient care.

Medical assistant jobs are on the rise, making it a stable and successful choice for those looking to begin a new career in the Seattle area.

When most of us think of the medical field we think of two places – the hospital and the family doctor’s office. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the health care industry, you’ll soon find out there’s so much more.

Becoming a medical assistant is one of the fastest ways to get started in the health care industry. Job growth for medical assistants is expected to remain between 20 and 30 percent nationally through 2022.

The advent of the electronic health record (EHR) makes the jobs of medical assistants easier and more efficient. As part of their duties, medical assistants are responsible for maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. These days, that means working with an EHR system.