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Do You Have What it Takes to Become an MA

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. Training programs like the 10-month Medical Assistant Certificate program at Charter College, offered at all of its 11 campuses, can help you prepare for this competitive, rewarding career in less than a year. But, do you really have what it takes to do the job with a smile? It takes a special kind of person. Take this little quiz to see if you’re a good fit.

Ever seen a roach in someone’s ear? Yes, Kenneth Smith, Medical Programs Chair of Charter College for Alaska, says it’s possible and especially common in older patients, he explains, who might not get to washing every day. “They’ll come in talking about a hearing problem,” Smith says. “I’ve seen all kinds of critters in people’s ears. Sometimes they die in there and when they do they get rock hard or, depending on how much cerumen (ear wax) the person has, they find stuff to eat and keep eating deeper and deeper into the ear!” Insects, and any foreign body (children also have a tendency to explore this orifice with popcorn kernels, beads, etc.), in the ear usually requires a trip to the emergency room. Medical assistants may help remove objects in the ear using suction or irrigation techniques.

Are you a natural pimple popper? For some, there’s a certain excitement watching the powerful force of white blood cells explode out of the skin. For others, it’s a feeling of repulsion. Which would you say of yourself? An oftentimes overlooked procedure most medical assistants will get to experience at least once in their careers involves something called a pilonidal cyst. It’s a cyst that tends to form at the top of cleft of the buttocks. This cyst is an abnormal pocket of skin that incubates infection, known as an abscess. The treatment includes lancing. Once the scalpel slices the skin the white blood cells trapped beneath are released and often with a great deal of explosive energy, “and they stink too,” says Smith with a laugh (medic humor he explains). “You’ll want to make sure you’re standing off to the side,” he says. “If you’re right in front of it the smell can be pretty overwhelming.”

How do you feel about bodily fluids? Does the thought of vomit make you want to do the same? What about fecal matter? Do you squirm at the sight of poop? Medical assistants work under the direction of a physician or registered nurse. Their responsibilities often include both front office and back office duties. Back office patient care may often require dealing with what Smith likes to call fluids of the “top and tail.” As a medical assistant, you’ll often be on clean-up duty, so you’ll want to make sure you have a strong stomach before you choose this career path.

Can you keep a secret? Everyone loves to get the dirt, but when you’re in the medical profession you are expected to keep confidential information confidential. That means all personal medical information and procedures – basically everything. As a medical assistant, Smith says, one of the more uncomfortable situations involves patients who have contracted an STD. Men with gonorrhea are an especially sensitive patient. “You can almost sense it just by the way they tip toe around their symptoms,” Smith explains. “They’re embarrassed. And you ask them how long they’ve had the pain, and they don’t always tell you the truth.” One sure fire way – the diagnosis for men in particular – is a Q-tip swab in the urethra, a procedure often performed by the medical assistant. The procedure, Smith says, is extremely painful and embarrassing for the patient. That’s why you, the medical assistant, need to have a certain level of sensitivity.

Well, what do you think? Do you have what it takes to join the league of the medical assistant? If so, Charter College can help you get there with a Medical Assistant Certificate in as little as 10 months. If you’re still interested in the medical field, but think the front office is a little more your style, check out the Medical Office Administrative Assistant Certificate program (offered at Charter College campuses in California).  Request more information today