Medical assisting is one very rewarding and fulfilling career, which offers incredible employment potential, a well-paid salary and job security.
A medical assistant career has a very promising outlook as job growth is also projected to increase much faster in the future.
In case you possess a blend of varied skills including administrative, technical, communication and interpersonal abilities than you might try your luck with this ever-challenging and responsible profession.
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Medical assistants are health care workers who help patients, nurses, and doctors assisting.
Being that they function as the right hand of the physicians and other members of the healthcare team, they play a crucial part in managing the undisturbed and organized flow of daily activities.
They are involved in medical care, patient education and other duties associated with a medical office, such as obtaining vital signs, keeping patient’s medical history, giving injections, managing equipment, etc.
Some of them, most frequently those with lower education, perform administrative tasks such as patient charts, medical records and filing insurance claims.
Becoming a Medical Assistant in California
To become a medical assistant, a future student can choose from two options, either to earn a certificate or diploma or to earn an associate degree.
There is a difference between these two, since certification programs usually last one year, while associate degrees take two years.
During both of these studies, students learn about laboratory techniques, clinical procedures, medical terminology, record-keeping, meaning that he /she receives the training and education necessary to work as a competent medical assistant.
On the other hand, students who enter an associate degree education get more detailed education to go with their medical assisting knowledge and some concepts are taught at a more in-depth level.
When choosing the right online medical assisting school, you should be careful since there are many online programs that offer certificates, diplomas, or associate degrees, but you need to bear in mind the fact that they are not all accredited, meaning that you might not be eligible to sit for the national certification exam after finishing it.
In California, medical assistants can be unlicensed individuals who are allowed to work only under the supervision of licensed nurses and physicians.
The Medical Board of California requires that you complete appropriate and acceptable training either under a licensed physician, nurse or qualified medical assistant or in a secondary, post-secondary, or adult education program in public schools.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) is accredited to give a diploma or a certificate.
In California, there are currently 26 CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant programs and more than 40 ABHES-accredited programs.
The most widely recognized professional certifications for medical assistants in the U.S. are:
- California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants: California Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA)
- The American Association of Medical Assistants: Certified Medical Assistant
- American Medical Technologist (AMT): Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
Getting a Job
The fact that in most states no formal training is required to become a medical assistant there is a demand for job opportunities.
However, even though people with just a high school diploma can become medical assistants and learn the duties in the course of the work, employers are seeking educated individuals ready to handle all the duties without previous training by the doctor himself/herself.
Job prospects are better for certified medical assistants and the priority will be always given to them, because they are already into the field, being that they have passed the examination.
In the state of California, the employer may require you to be certified by an approved certifying organization.
When it comes to California, numerous employers are searching for new candidates that would be appropriate for the job.
Medical assistants might find work in:
- Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Oakland
- UCLA Medical Group, Los Angeles
- EmCare Nationwide, Santa Barbara
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation Clinic, Santa Cruz
- UC Davis Medical Group, Roseville
- California Emergency Physicians, Pomona
- UC San Diego Medical Group, San Diego
Having in mind the fact that the national certification is pursued by many medical assistants in California when hiring novice staff, believing that it signifies a commitment to the profession and a higher level of knowledge and expertise in the field, there is a constant lack of educated medical assistants.
The more experienced and knowledgeable they are, the higher are the chances of a better salary.
The amount of money earned depends on numerous factors, such as the number of working hours and work setting.
California belongs to the states where the average salary of medical assistants are highest, but at the same time, the variations among major cities are greater.
The average salary ranges from $34 533 in Fresco up to even $43 425 in San Francisco.Annual Salary Range: Annual Salary by Location:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
Regional Salary in California
|Region||Employed||Avg. Annual Salary||Avg. Hourly Pay||Top 10% Annual Salary||Bottom 10% Annual Salary|
|El Centro, CA||480||$37,590||$18.07||$46,180||$32,740|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||36,770||$43,880||$21.1||$59,090||$35,370|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||1,700||$44,770||$21.52||$59,690||$36,030|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||10,380||$41,020||$19.72||$58,940||$30,980|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||8,810||$44,960||$21.62||$61,550||$36,690|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||14,500||$58,710||$28.23||$76,050||$42,900|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||6,420||$55,980||$26.91||$73,630||$38,890|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||750||$45,150||$21.71||$59,370||$35,530|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||870||$49,010||$23.56||$65,830||$37,360|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||1,150||$44,580||$21.43||$61,340||$35,620|
|Santa Rosa, CA||1,630||$55,690||$26.77||$73,250||$38,490|
|Yuba City, CA||370||$43,730||$21.03||$50,840||$35,170|
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.
The duties of a medical assistant that are not related to the clinical side are taking and recording patient medical history, answering their questions, scheduling appointments
When the medical side is in question, their job might be preparing and administering medications, collecting lab specimens and taking EKG tests, among many other important tasks.
Some of their basic duties include:
- Welcoming patients
- Gathering patient information
- Preparing patients for the examination and intervention
- Taking blood pressure, weight, and temperature
- Counseling patients by transmitting physician’s orders and questions about surgery
The skills that a medical assistant has to possess are:
- Inventory Management
- Written and Verbal Communication
- Clinical Skills
- Documentation Skills
- Teamwork, just to mention a few.
If you are still wondering whether this is an ideal career for you, here are three reasons why you should decide on entering this field.
First, a Medical Assistant career is one of and continues to be one of the fastest-growing careers.
Them, it is rewarding especially for those who love to help people and assist others by using their medical-related knowledge and competence.
Last, but not the least, the required education can be achieved in less than a year, through schools dedicated to learning their students everything they need to become successful medical assistants.