If you have dreamed of a career as a medical assistant performing a role that helps others, it is time to begin making that dream a reality.
Being an occupation in-demand, medical assisting has many job opportunities for those interested in the medical field.
The great increase in demand for medical assistants is expected due to the continued exponential growth of the healthcare industry.
This is attributed to the growing number of facilities and physicians’ offices and technological advances in the medical field.
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A medical assistant is a person who is working alongside physicians in medical offices and clinics, performing clinical or administrative tasks thus helping keep the office running smoothly.
Their duties include dealing with both administrative and clinical issues of the office, largely with the supervision of a physician.
However, when they happen to work in larger practices, medical assistants are asked to specialize in their work in a particular area.
How demanding the medical assistants’ daily activities would be is determined by the size, location, and practice specialty.
Becoming a Medical Assistant in Alabama
Medical assistants in the United States, except in a few states, are not required to be licensed or certified.
Yet, the job itself requires knowledge to be successfully performed.
That is why employers have strict requirements for education, experience, and national certification when employing medical assistants.
Education through the completion of a certificate or associate degree program becomes popular as medical assistants who have achieved certification in the profession increase their chances of getting the job.
Formal education and practice can be achieved from recognized medical assisting programs offered in vocational-technical high schools, postsecondary vocational schools, as well as colleges and universities.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) offered medical assisting programs to result in a diploma, a degree, or an associate degree.
There are 617 programs accredited by CAAHEP and 358 programs accredited by ABHES while the Committee on Accreditation for Ophthalmic Medical Personnel accredited an additional 19 programs.
When it comes to requirements, medical assistants in Alabama can perform specific medical assisting tasks without certification, but under the supervision of licensed physicians.
Even though they are not required to attain specific credentialing or education, the employers realized the importance of hiring educated assistants, is that after completing a medical assisting program and gaining national certification they know what they are supposed to do once entering the office.
To enter any of the medical assistant programs, they need to meet specific eligibility requirements and take and pass a certification examination.
Through these medical assisting educational programs students to cover numerous subjects like accounting, anatomy, clinical and diagnostic procedures, medical administration, patient relations, and typing transcription just to mention a few.
When choosing the program you should pay attention to accreditation.
The most widely recognized professional certifications for medical assistants in the U.S. are:
- The American Association of Medical Assistants: Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) credential
- The American Medical Technologists: Registered Medical Assistant credential
There are 12 programs accredited by the ABHES in Alabama, 4 are associate degree programs and 8 are diploma programs. There are also 4 associate degree programs accredited by the CAAHEP in Alabama.
Getting a Job
Medical assisting is one of the careers which is growing fast thus attributing job growth, and more and more students opt for certification to look more attractive to potential employers and get the job easily.
Medical assistants might look for a job in physician’s offices, in medical and surgical hospitals, in offices of specialty health practitioners, such as podiatrists or chiropractors or ambulatory healthcare services.
There are vast job opportunities for medical assistants in medical and diagnostic laboratories, nursing care facilities and outpatient care centers.
Medical assistants might find work in:
- Tanner Medical Group, Atlanta
- University of South Alabama Physician’s Group, Mobile
- Physician Network, Providence Hospital, Mobile
- Southview Medical Group, Birmingham
When it comes to the average salaries of medical assistants in Alabama, current statistics show that it is approximately $25,905.
However, the amount of money earned depends on the employee’s experience, working hours and responsibilities.
The salary of medical assistants in Alabama also differs due to the development of the city the hospital or office is located in as well as the number of health facilities there.
The table below shows average salaries for medical assistants in major cities of Alabama, presenting the difference from one place to another:Annual Salary Range: Annual Salary by Location:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
The obligations of medical assistants are versatile and they largely depend on the practice specialty, since in one facility he/she may be asked to administer diagnostic tests while in the other just to help prepare patients for procedures.
Also, depending on the operational hours of the facility, medical assistants work part-time, full-time, night shifts and weekends and are often in charge of several responsibilities at once.
They need to perform administrative duties such as:
- Answering calls
- Arranging for hospital admissions and lab services
- Keep patient records
- Greeting patients and scheduling appointments
On the other hand, their clinical duties include:
- Assisting physicians during a patient examination
- Changing patient dressings
- Drawing blood
- Interviewing patients and asking questions about their medical histories
- Preparing patients for examinations
- Taking patient vital signs among many others
This proves that they need to handle everything from certain aspects of patient care to insurance billing.
Becoming a medical assistant is not at all naïve and those who are not ready to face all the challenges that this job entails should not try becoming one.
The state of Alabama might not demand formal education. But the job itself requires a combination of formal education and hands-on training.
Those who want to earn certification and get involved more deeply into the job must have some level of formal education to do so.
Due to the myriad tasks that this profession involves, medical assistants must be very well organized professionals full of the knowledge of medical terms and procedures with a constant will to advance and improve their abilities and knowledge related to medical science.