The medical assistant profession relates to the support role in the healthcare industry.
Medical assistants assist the physicians with running offices, clinics, and hospital departments.
Since the health information is now stored electronically, medical assistants need technological skills to fulfill orders, record data, and process payments.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Medical Assistant Do
Medical assistants are supporters of medical practice in a hospital, a doctor’s office, or other facility related to the healthcare industry.
Typically, they deal with collecting patient information, making appointments, and processing payments billing patients or their insurance.
- Take medical and family histories from patients along with other personal information.
- Take basic signs including pulse, weight, blood pressure, temperature, height.
- Administer injections and medications under the guidance of a physician and in compliance with the laws.
- Record sings, symptoms, complaints, histories, and other information in the records of patients.
- Appoint consultations, examinations, and procedures.
- Prepare samples, such as blood, for lab testing.
- Send orders from doctors for lab tests, diagnostic exams, and medication.
Medical assistants need excellent communication and listening skills to properly record patients’ information as well as fulfill the physicians’ instructions properly.
They should also be able to convey physicians’ instructions.
Medical assistants need to understand charts and diagnoses to bill patients or their insurance.
Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid claim approval is often determined by the proper coding of services and visit reasons.
Medical assistants use technological equipment to take patients’ vital signs.
It includes blood pressure monitors, pulsometers, thermometers, and other digital instruments.
Besides that, they may have to use needles to inject vaccines or medications.
During visits, patients can be uncomfortable or stressed.
Medical assistants should show some compassion, patience, and calm to patients.
They also deal with physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, and insurance reps.
Medical assistants have access to sensitive and personal information about patients, their conditions, insurance, and financial information, family histories.
This is confidential information, and its exposure may result in harm to patients as well as penalties by the governmental agencies.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants can obtain their minimal qualifications with a high school diploma and post-secondary training or certification.
However, they need to be proficient in computer technologies as all information is stored electronically.
By obtaining certifications, medical assistants can improve their position in the job market.
Read the full guide: How to Become a Medical Assistant: Definitive Guide + Step-by-Step Instructions
Training and Qualifications
In general, medical assistants need to complete a one-year program at a vocational school or community college after high school.
In the end, they will receive a certificate or diploma.
At community colleges, an associate’s degree is also available for medical assistants.
The program takes two years to complete.
At high school, medical assistants can take courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy to prepare for post-secondary education.
At vocational or community colleges, the programs cover such skills as taking vital signs, entering orders of physicians, recording patients’ information, billing patients or insurers.
Medical assistants can get certified through the American Association of Medical Assistants or similar organizations.
To obtain certification, a candidate has to attend an accredited program.
Programs are available through the Commission on Association of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
At these schools, you will learn medical terminology, human physiology and anatomy, human pathology, diagnosis, and clinical procedures as well as billing and administration of medication.
Medical assistants are trained at vocational or community colleges.
However, at some hospitals or physicians’ offices, they may have to focus on equipment, office procedures, instruments, and billing codes.
Physicians prefer to hire assistance with certifications.
Medicare and Medicaid allow only certified assistants to enter medication and lab orders or diagnostic imaging into their portals.
To get certified, one must work for some time under the supervision of a doctor.
This period is unpaid.
Typically, a medical assistant is a full-time job.
Widely, clinics are open beyond normal business hours, so medical assistants may have to work on the weekends or in the evenings.
According to the BLS, about six in ten medical assistants are employed at the doctor’s office.
About 15% of them work in hospitals where the schedule can include late-night shifts, irregular times, or weekends.
During holiday seasons, medical assistants may have to work as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate of medical assistants should increase by 23% until 2024, which brings out 139,900 new job openings.
The higher the demand for physicians’ services, the bigger is the need for medical assistants.
The aging baby-boomer generation is always in need of preventative care from doctors.
Additionally, with improved access to health insurance, people are likely to seek medical care more.
Most of all, medical assistants are employed at physicians’ offices, with 356,000 as reported for May 2015.
Those assistants who are proficient in technology have better chances for employment.
They should also be certified to be able to place orders with Medicare and Medicaid.
The average salary of a medical assistant is $31,910 per year as of May 2015.
It implies an hourly wage of $15,34.
Access to health insurance and longer life spans mean that physicians and medical assistants will remain in high demand.
There are multiple job opportunities for medical assistants with certification and advanced tech knowledge.
These professionals should be patient, empathetic, able to keep accurate records and ethical when it comes to patient’s information.