What is a medical assistant, what are the jobs that they are required to carry out on an everyday basis, these are your queries? Well, here we are about to discuss everything related to the profession and we also aim to help you figure out the right path that would eventually assist you in getting your feet into the desired industry. So also we have provided all details related to medical school for your better understanding.
Here, we shall discuss the medical assistant skills, what is a medical assistant do in terms of the duties of the profession and we would also assist you in getting hold of the best courses in the United States of America that will help you strengthen your career.
What is a Medical Assistant : Description
In 2012 the United States had 560,800 medical assistants. As per the U.S. Department of Labor, this number is expected to rise to 723,700 by 2022, representing an increase of 29 percent. The sharp rise in medical assistants anticipated over the coming years represents a similar pattern across the majority of allied healthcare careers, which continues to grow exponentially.
Now first we will discuss What is a medical assistant? According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), a medical assistant is a medical professional who is responsible for working in ambulatory and outpatient care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics, along with doctors. The AAMA attributes the growth of United States medical assistants to a variety of factors:
- A projected rise in the number of ambulatory care facilities and physician’s offices
- Technological advances in the healthcare sector
- The increasing number of elderly Americans (i.e. generation Baby Boomer)
Regardless of whether clinical or administrative duties are being done, medical assistants help ensure the smooth operation of the physician offices. Also, while working for a general practitioner, a chiropractor, an optometrist, or a dermatologist, a medical assistant’s position includes operating under a physician’s direct direction, supervision, and instruction.
What is a Medical Assistant do?
Medical assistants frequently handle both administrative (clerical) and clinical office duties in smaller practices. In larger practices, specializing in their work in a given area is typical of medical assistants. In larger practices, several medical assistants are often indicative of being under the direct supervision of a department or functional administrator.
Medical assistants are cross-trained healthcare professionals who perform administrative and clinical duties. Medical assistant responsibilities and duties often differ somewhat according to the size, location, and specialty practice as well as state laws. Medical assistants may have administrative duties which include:
- Telephone answering
- Settlement of hospital admissions
- Arranging laboratory services
- Patient records are entered and updated
- Completing insurance forms, checking
- Salute patients
- Scheduling rendezvous
- Use of Computer Software
Medical assistants may have clinical duties including:
- Assisting doctors during the medical evaluation
- Allowing refills of prescriptions
- Patient dressings changed, sutures removed
- Blood drawing and collecting laboratory specimens
- Helping patients understand therapies and medical treatments
- Patients interview, ask questions about their medical history
- Preparing and administering medical therapies under the guidance of a physician
- Getting patients ready for exams
- Providing guidance, support, and advice regarding the administration of medical therapies and medicines for patients
- To act as a patient liaison
The work of medical assistants may be distinctly different, depending on the specialty of practice. For example, when in an optometrist ‘s office, a medical assistant may use a number of test methods to administer diagnostic tests and measure and record vision, while in a gynecologist ‘s office, the medical assistant may help prepare patients for gynecological procedures, prepare and send laboratory specimens, and samples for pregnancy.
Depending on the practice or outpatient care center ‘s operational hours, medical assistants may work part-time, full-time, evenings, or even weekends. Medical assistants work closely with patients, irrespective of their job roles and obligations, and are frequently called upon to perform many tasks at once.
Medical Assistant Job Opportunities in Various Fields
The AAMA estimated that about 60 percent of all medical assistants served in physician’s offices as of 2012, while 13 percent served in medical and surgical hospitals in general, covering both private and public facilities. About 10 percent worked at specialist health practitioners’ clinics, such as podiatrists or chiropractors. The remaining ones worked in other settings, like:
- Outpatient health services
- Occupational services
- Health labs and testing facilities
- Nursing facilities
- Ambulance Centers
- Professional and public education
- State and local authorities
- Training and development.
Medical Assistant Course – Programs
Along with the question what is a medical assistant there comes another query, what courses and programs are required? The vast majority of medical assistants are formally trained from recognized medical assistance programs that can be provided in a variety of settings, including:
- Secondary vocational-technical education
- Vocational Post-secondary schools
- Junior High Schools
There are two agencies in the United States that accredit medical assistant programs: the Allied Health Education Program Accreditation Commission (CAAHEP) and the Health Education Schools Accrediting Bureau (ABHES). As of 2019, CAAHEP accredited 617 programs and ABHES accredited 358 programs. About 19 were certified by the Accreditation Committee for Ophthalmic Medical Staff.
A diploma, a degree, or an associate degree is common for medical assistance programs.
Topics Covered in these Courses
While medical assistance education programs may be structured differently depending on the institution in which they are offered, the medical assistant course work is similar as it covers the following topics:
- Clinical and diagnostic procedures
- First aid
- Insurance processing
- Laboratory techniques
- Medical administration
- Medical law
- Medical terminology
- Patient relations
- Pharmaceutical principles
- Record keeping
- Typing transcription
Summer internships for medical assistants are an important culmination of any training program because they provide clinical practical experience for students in the office of a physician, hospital, or other health care facility.
Medical Assistant Certification
Certifications that You May Opt for: While there is generally no state licensing in the U.S. for medical assistants, a number of states require specific tests or courses to work with certain high-tech equipment and machinery, such as x-ray machines.
Furthermore, due to the lack of state-mandated qualifications, the national certification has become essential to many medical assistant employers, because it means they have met relevant competency criteria.
The most recognized professional certifications available for the medical assistants in the U.S.A are mentioned as follows:
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- American Medical Technologists Registered Medical Assistant
- Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified (PMAC) by the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants
- COA or Certified Ophthalmic Assistant , accredited by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology
Medical Assistant Skills – One Can Require
What is a medical assistant and what skills do they require are the top asked questions. Healthcare assistants have to be caring, patient, effective listeners, and problem solvers. They need to adjust to change quickly and be able to take guidance from physicians and other patient service team members. In this position, which often fills last-minute needs in a healthcare facility, it’s often important to be fast on the take-up.
What else must you know about Medical Assistant skills?
Here are the top skills that employers look for when hiring medical assistants:
• Patient care
• Vital signs measurement
• Communication skills
• Computer literacy
• Organizational skills
Health care workers need to be compassionate, understanding, good listeners, and problem solvers. They need to adapt to change quickly and be able to take direction from doctors and other patient support team members. In this role, which often fills last-minute needs in a healthcare facility, it is also vital to be swift on take-up.
Medical assistant jobs which are in specialist facilities ( e.g. dialysis centers, nursing homes, outpatient surgical centers) require additional skills and expertise specific to their surroundings.
Settings for work as a Medical Assistant
By 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most medical assistants had served in doctor’s offices. Hospitals and ambulances were other major employers. Medical assistants work in several distinct fields like phlebotomy, EKG, and medical administration. Professionals may have other titles in these settings even though they are still using their medical assisting skills.
Although positions in doctor’s offices and hospitals comprise the bulk of medical assistant employment, openings can definitely be found in facilities that may not be top-of-mind.
Other health care facilities that are beginning to use medical assistants include dental offices, chiropractic offices, and long-term and short-term health care centers, as well as nursing homes.
The setting and schedule of work for medical assistants are very dependent on their employer. Those who are working in a hospital or long-term care facility can expect certain weekends and holidays to be working days. Those who work in a clinic are likely to be working during standard business hours.
Medical Assistant Responsibilities
We have covered many points of a medical assistant so far but still there must have few questions rising in your mind like what is a medical assistant do, what are their responsibilities. In a clinic, rather than being concentrated in a single unit or wing of a large hospital, the role of medical assistants is more extensive, filling in any holes as needed.
More often than not, in smaller clinics, medical assistants are mostly referred to as “generalists” because of the fact that they mostly are responsible for doing everything from greeting new patients to answering phone calls to dressing wounds and collecting blood samples.
They also give patients instructions about general care, medicinal procedures, and special diets. According to the BLS, electronic health records ( EHRs) are changing the jobs of some medical aid workers. Most MAs can communicate frequently with EHR software and need to know the program their office uses.
This unique blend of clinical and administrative routine duties helps in running the operations smoothly. And as a result, the role played by medical assistants is highly valued by the clinic’s office managers, doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners.
Steps to become a Medical Assistant
The steps to becoming a medical assistant are minimal in contrast to some careers in the health care sector. You will need to complete a training program and get professional certification. You’ll need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in the medical assistant school
Step 1: Get accredited with medical assistant course
As you begin your search for the right school, be sure to have one of the following accrediting agencies. You would not be allowed to take technical medical assistant certification exams without the accreditation.
- CAAHEP (Accreditation Commission for Allied Health Education Programmes)
- ABHES (Health Education Schools Accreditation Bureau)
You must be curious to know what is a medical assistant program? Generally these programs offer either certificates or associate degrees to be chosen. Your career aspirations should dictate your chosen type of program.
For example, if you are looking to enter the workforce sooner rather than joining any ,medical assistant school, a shorter certificate program may be best suited for you. On the other side, if you already have plans to pursue further education in the future, a degree from an associate will provide a solid foundation for you.
Length and curriculum are the principal differences between the two types of programs. Graduating with a credential of medical assistant assures employers that you have earned good professional preparation and hands-on experience. Tendentially, these services last between nine and 12 months.
It takes about two years for an associate to graduate and provides you with both job preparation, hands-on experience, and general education courses. Since your education is more extensive, you might have more chance of promotion or higher pay.
Both kinds of programs generally cover many similar topics. Some of them include the following:
- First aid
- Medical law and ethics
- Computer applications
- Patient relations
- Medical billing and coding
Step 2: Learning skills
As well as learning in the classroom, medical assistant schools typically require that their students complete an externship. Till now you have got an idea What is a medical assistant, now we will learn the skills they require and how to develop those skills.
Outsourcing is a way of acquiring clinical experience before you reach the work world. It helps you to test your learning in the classroom.
You can work with qualified medical assistants during an internship, and gain practical experience in a real-life clinical environment. It’s time to ask questions, develop skills, and make in-field connections. While hearing anecdotes about difficult patients or challenging tasks in the classroom might seem like enough training, only an internship will give you the opportunity to experience it first-hand.
In most cases your school will set you up in a nearby clinic or medical center with a realistic background.
Step 3: Certification
What is a medical assistant certification and is it necessary to have one? Technically, to work as a medical assistant, you don’t need to be certified, but many employers prefer to work with accredited professionals.
Whatever medical assistant certification you earn (there are five to choose from), you’ll be required to pass an examination. You will be tested on a wide range of medical assistance topics and earning your credentials will tell employers that you know the field.
Here is a look at the various formats of examination:
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam: Consists of 210 multiple-choice questions
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam: Consists of 200 multiple-choice questions
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam: Consists of 200 multiple-choice questions
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam: Consists of 100 multiple-choice questions
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam: Consists of 150-multiple choice questions
Technology and Trends in Medical Assisting
When health-care developments arise and technology progresses, being a medical assistant is an exciting time. As the role requires both clinical and administrative activities, the latest in office technology, as well as innovative tools for treating patients, are introduced to medical assistants.
The introduction of Electronic Health Records ( EHRs) has been one of the big improvements to health care. They’re one of the most important pieces of medical assistants equipment that you will need to work with, in the near future.
They contain the medical history of a patient, medication list, treatment plans, laboratory results, allergies, and other relevant health information.
Because all the data are collected in one location, and patient care professionals can access it from anywhere. EHRs are also being implemented by health care facilities, which means that medical assistants play a significant role in inputting information, understanding how it functions, and discovering ways to help clinicians make informed decisions about the treatment of a patient.
Medical assistants are responsible for maintaining medical records and ensuring correct information. Since this technology is relatively new, you will need to understand the following topics clearly:
- Privacy and security related to patient data
- Benefits of EHRs
- Drawbacks of EHRs
- Editing data and running reports
- Maintaining EHRs
- Differences between EHRs and EMRs (Electronic Medical Records)
Since patients can log in and access their own records, answering questions or troubleshooting can also be part of your job.
Medical Assistant Jobs : Hottest Opportunities
As per the U.S. Office of Labor Statistics, more than half of the medical assistants work in the offices of physicians, but you will also find medical assistants in medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, and other health practitioners’ offices.
If you delve deeper with the topic what is a medical assistant, you will find that medical assistants are able to specialize in certain medicinal areas. Although you will still be tasked with some administrative duties, there are more opportunities for clinical medical assistant jobs to work alongside a doctor and to use medical tools and technology. Medical assistance is a good scope for practice also.
Ophthalmic medical assistants work closely with patients; they perform eye tests, assist with contact lens use and care, collect medical history, and assist with prescriptions and minor surgery. Within this area, ophthalmic medical assistants also undergo on-the-job training after completing a general medical assisting education program. In Ophthalmology, the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel provides voluntary technical certification.
Podiatric medical aids make casts for feet, develop x-rays, and assist with podiatric surgery. The assistant also conducts pre-treatment exams in this role, and regularly uses podiatric tools. You would need to have a good knowledge of foot anatomy and function confidently with patients who may be in pain. Health aids involved in sports also find that podiatry is a perfect option.
Medical assistants who are passionate about women’s health may find a rewarding career in gynecology/obstetrics. In this role, you will assist doctors with exams, and provide pregnant women with guidance and education. OB-GYN medical assistants should have a good understanding of such issues like menopause, HPV, and female anatomy.
If you are interested in a natural approach to medicine, a good opportunity may be to work as a chiropractic medical assistant. Using a number of methods, including hot and cold therapies, you will help a Chiropractor treat patients. Some employers will require you to have the qualification for Basic Life Support (BLS).
Administrative Medical Assistant
Ordered, detail-oriented medical aids excel in an administrative setting. You can spend more time as a medical biller and coder or an administrative assistant if you want to specialize in the non-clinical side of medical assisting.
You will be analyzing records as a medical biller and coder, keep track of patient data, determine insurance billing codes, and work closely with physicians to ensure accuracy. Administrative medical assistants might even fill out insurance forms and code patient data, and they’re also responsible for scheduling appointments.
Typically, they work closely with healthcare administrators to craft documents, take notes, and complete other office tasks. You will find that a good program can cover both administrative and clinical tasks when you begin your search for a medical assistant school. You should be comfortable working in both settings when you graduate, although you’ll probably need on-the-job training for a specialized medical office.
Medical Assistant Education Fees
The education fees for medical assistant programs you need to pay for completing your education program may widely vary depending upon several factors such as the state where you live and also the institution of your choice.
However, after analyzing lots of data, we have come to the conclusion that you are required to pay anywhere between $1,200 and $4,200 for a diploma program. On the other hand, any one-year certificate program might cost you anywhere between $2,500 and $10,000.
By now, we believe that your doubts regarding What is a medical assistant, the career of a medical assistant have been cleared. We have tried to include all the information regarding the profession and the career path as a whole.
Despite that, if you still have any other concerns or questions related to the education course and professional path of medical assistants; feel free to leave a comment below or visit our page onlineschoolsnearme.com. All your doubts related to the What is a medical assistant will be met here. Our panel of experts shall reach out to you and assist you in clearing all your doubts.