How to Become a Medical Assistant

A Medical Assistant provides support to doctors and nurses by completing a range of medical as well as administrative tasks.

Medical assistants are sometimes known as MAs or CMAs, which stands for certified medical assistant.

If you are interested in health and medicine, and have a good aptitude for administrative tasks, along with excellent time management, then working as a medical assistant could be a perfect career for you.

The actual job description of a medical assistant can vary somewhat, so as far as career choices go, it’s quite flexible.

Some MAs spend all of their time behind a desk, while others may complete mostly practical work, spending their time with patients.

Education Requirements to Become a Medical Assistant

To become a medical assistant you will need to complete either a 1 or 2 year degree which covers medical terminology, procedures, first aid, and administrative skills.

You can complete a medical assistant degree program at community college or some specialist schools.

The education that you require varies between states, so before you enroll in a particular course it’s essential that you check it qualifies you for certification where you live.

After you have completed your coursework, you will need to apply for certification.

This will usually involve sitting a state set exam.

Once you have done this you will be able to start looking for employment.

To become a medical assistant, or CMA, you will need to complete a further program and examination with the American Association of Medical Assistants.

This program is offered three times a year.

Being a CMA may offer you greater job opportunities and often a larger salary package.

Some medical assistants don’t undergo any formal training, rather they learn on the job.

However, these positions are rare and most people in the field have a formal degree qualification.

Medical Assistant Job Description

Most medical assistants work in hospitals, they may also work in clinics and day surgery centers also.

Working in health, you can expect to work on a roster, and will have a range of day, evening and weekend shifts to fill.

  • Checking patients in
  • Checking vital signs
  • Completing patient charts
  • Billing and invoicing
  • Appointment setting and diary management
  • Completing insurance forms

The job description of a medical assistant can be quite varied.

Here are some of the specialist roles a medical assistant could fill:

Clinical Medical Assistant – Depending on state law, these professionals work solely with patients.

They will put together a health profile for doctors, keep and assess charts, explain procedures to patients, and sometimes administer treatments.

Administrative Medical Assistant – These MAs handle patient paperwork, book appointments, file and archive charts, and communicate with insurance companies.

Specialist Medical Assistant – These professionals work with a health specialist such as a podiatrist or chiropractor, usually form consulting suites.

They will be trained to provide a range of assisting services to the doctor that they work with.

Medical Assistant Salary and Career Path

Most medical assistant start their career working in a hospital and providing support to doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.

While there is a lot of variety available in this role, there is not much room for advancement into other medical positions without further education.

Many medical assistants undergo further study to become nurses.

Some move on to administrative roles within health, or work in small clinics as managers.

Employment in this field is very secure, in fact it’s one of the fastest growing career sectors.

If you’re looking for a qualification that will guarantee you work, then becoming a medical assistant is a good choice.

The median wage of a medical assistant is $30,000.

The top 10% in the field earned around $40,000 a year.

There is little variance in salaries and only a small amount of room for promotion.

To achieve a higher salary, MAs usually move into other areas of health or undergo further training.

Working as a medical assistant is a good choice if you want a career in health but don’t want to spend a long time at college.

There are excellent job opportunities in this growing area.

While employment is secure, there is little room for advancement.

Many use a position as a medical assistant as a spring board into other careers within the health field.

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