Medical Assistant Training
Interested in medical assistant training? Well, if you are looking for a secure job opportunity in which you can help people, perhaps looking into becoming a medical assistant might be just what you have been looking for.
Projected employment growth from the year 2008 through 2018 is expected to grow much faster than average, which will thus rank medical assistants amongst the fastest growing occupation throughout the decade, providing much needed financial stability in these unstable economic times in which we are currently living.
What Does A Medical Assistant Do?
Before undertaking medical assistant training, it’s important to know the job description of a medical assistant.
Medical assistants perform a number of both clinical and administrative tasks that help keep the offices of physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists and many other health care professionals running smoothly.
The precise duties required of medical assistants vary depending upon the size and location of both the practitioner and their areas of specialties.
Some medical assistants work in smaller offices and are usually quite busy handling a variety of tasks that include both clinical duties and administrative duties and report directly to their physician, office manager or various other health practitioners.
Others who work in larger offices tend to have specialized medical assistant training in a particular area of expertise and are under the direct supervision of their department administrators.
Three Types of Medical Assistants
There are generally three different types of medical assistants – administrative, clinical, and ophthalmic. Each will require different skills and medical assistant training.
Administrative medical assistants lean more towards filing and updating patients’ medical histories and records, arranging for admissions into local hospitals and lab work and filling out patients’ insurance forms. In addition to these tasks, they also do more administrative type work that would consist of such things as greeting the patients, scheduling routine appointments, handling correspondence and handling the bookkeeping and billing needs.
Clinical medical assistants have a variety of tasks that are dependent on each state’s laws. Some duties include recording patients’ vital signs, performing intake of their medical histories, helping explain medical treatments and preparing them for various examinations, and then actually assisting physicians during those exams. They also collect and then prepare lab specimens, dispose of contaminated medical supplies, sterilize medical instruments and even sometimes perform basic lab tests as well.
Ophthalmic medical assistants have become properly trained and specialized in certain areas who then have additional duties and responsibilities involved. Ophthalmic medical assistants help ophthalmologists provide professional eye care. They measure and record vision, test eye muscle functions, and conduct sophisticated diagnostic tests as well.
They also apply dressings for the eyes and teach patients how to put in, remove and take proper care of their contact lenses. Some may also administer eye medications under the direct supervision of the eye doctor. They help to maintain the surgical and optical equipment and may even help assist the ophthalmologist while performing actual surgery.
Training to Become a Medical Assistant
Medical assistant training used to be just a simple “on the job training” while someone could be trained with as little as just a high school education.
However, these days the jobs are much more competitive and prospective employers lean towards hiring those with some formal training.
The most common options to become a medical assistant are to obtain a diploma or certificate or an associate’s degree, which can be taken at either community colleges or vocational schools.
Diploma or certificate programs are usually one year long while associate’s degree programs need 2 years to complete and cost more money. However, diploma or certificate programs do not offer any degrees.
There are also some online courses by accredited institutions that can also help prepare you for your new career all from the comforts of your own home and within the time constraints you choose.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure that the medical assistant training program you take is accredited either by the ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools) or the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs). Only graduates from these programs are eligible for CMA or RMA certifications (see below).
Certification although not required, is highly recommended to show your competency in the medical field while also greatly improving your prospects of a better salary as well. In addition, to perform certain medical tasks such as drawing blood or taking x-rays you are required by law to be certified.
Therefore, once you have finished your medical assistant training program, the next logical step is to obtain certification.
Certification comes by taking the CMA (certified medical assistant) examination from the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants.)
Once you have passed the examination, you will become a fully certified CMA (certified medical assistant). To maintain your CMA certification, it is required that you take continuing education credits every five years to keep up with the new technologies.
One other option available is to become a RMA (registered medical assistant) by taking the examination that is offered by the AMT (American Medical Technologists). To be eligible for taking the RMA exam you must be a graduate of an accredited medical assistant program or have work experience in medical assisting for at least 5 years.
In case you are wondering, both CMAs and RMAs perform the same clinical duties and are recognized by states and medical institutions. The only difference is in the certification process. They are both valuable in helping you get into the best job offers available and will make you that much better of a candidate for which an employer is more likely to hire.
Career Advancing Opportunities
Once you have a few years of experiences in medical assisting you will be able to advance to office manager or other administrative duties. With more education, you can also become a Medical Technologies, Medical Laboratory Technician, nurse, or other healthcare related professional.
With so many options available in the healthcare field that is experiencing and is expected to continue experiencing such rapid growth, healthy salaries and the ability to truly make a difference by helping a lot of people in many different ways, taking medical assistant training could be just the perfect career choice for you.