Life is about the journey, but successful careers have a destination. For medical assistants, the path begins with a vocational school training program and ends with a broad range of exciting options. Let us peer into the future.
Why Become a Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant is a support professional who works with doctors and nurses to deliver quality healthcare to their community. It is one of many rewarding careers in the healthcare field, but the benefits are hard to ignore. You will enjoy being a medical assistant if you want:
A Quick Start
Most jobs in the healthcare field require a college degree, but you can become a medical assistant in as little as 8 months and only 20 hours per week. For students who want a career in medicine, but cannot afford to be unemployed for two or more years, it’s a convenient option and a foundation for bigger and better things.
Life is too short to go home unfulfilled every day. If you have outgrown your present job, medical assisting is one way to make a difference. You will help others in meaningful ways, making connections that last a lifetime.
For some careers, the future is bleak. Once vital, they’ve been replaced by technology. But demand for medical assistants is expected to grow 18-percent through 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students graduating today enjoy unprecedented job availability.
A good career is energizing. As a medical assistant, you’ll work in a fast-paced environment full of challenges and rewards. The pace is brisk but never boring, there’s always something new to learn.
Medical assistants are part of the healthcare team. They work with administrative and clinical professionals who support each other toward a common goal. You’ll be more than a number on a time clock. You’ll feel supported and valued.
The wrong career can take a toll on your personal and family life. Working in healthcare can be stressful when you are on-call day and night, but most medical assistants work Monday through Friday hours. You will have a predictable schedule with evenings and weekends off. There will always be time for a positive work/life balance.
The Career Path for Medical Assistants
The best way to become a medical assistant is to attend a vocational school training program. Your diploma makes you a more valuable employee qualified for better positions. After graduation, you will be prepared to take a certification exam. While not required these programs prepare you to test so that you can add this important credential to your resume. It is essential as a stepping-stone for advancement.
Unless you have prior experience in healthcare, you’ll start your career in an entry-level position, learning the ropes. But with experience and continuing education, there’s room for professional growth. First, you may rise to a supervisory position, guiding new medical assistants as they join the team. Or you may excel in one part of your job more than others and change paths.
A business-savvy medical assistant, for example, may enjoy the administrative aspects of healthcare and join a practice as a medical office manager. A medical assistant who excels in science may become a certified phlebotomist and use their talents in the lab.
Some medical assistants choose a specialty. If you have a passion for a specific area of medicine, such as cardiology, gerontology, or women’s health, you can work for a doctor in that field. And if the clinical aspect of medicine is what makes you tick, why not take additional classes, and become a nurse? Many do.
The best part about a career in medical assisting is the many options it provides. You will get your feet wet in the industry and work with a variety of tasks. You learn more about yourself and what makes you happy while gaining precious experience and earning a paycheck.
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
Roles for medical assistants are expanding as employers become increasingly aware of their skills. While most medical assistants are employed by private practices, positions are opening in a broad range of settings, including:
Medical assistants are mainstays in doctor’s offices. Trained to manage both clinical and administrative responsibilities, their skills are a perfect match for a jack-of-all-trades position. From answering the phone to assisting with treatments, you’ll work with the same clients regularly, getting to know them over the years.
It’s fast-paced but predictable enough to not be overwhelming for new graduates. If you have an aptitude for administration or accounting and think you might like being an office manager, a job in private practice offers a comprehensive overview of the entire process from budgeting to human resources.
In a large hospital, a medical assistant rarely serves the same clients, but they will have an opportunity to see complex cases they are unlikely to see in a doctor’s office.
Medical assistants are employed by hospitals to work in outpatient departments, medical records, and the lab. In some states, they can be unit clerks on acute care floors. It is the ideal setting for a medical assistant who might want to continue their education to become a nurse, a lab technician, or a health information expert.
Clinics are smaller than hospitals but larger than doctor’s offices. Medical assistants get a front-row seat to both complex cases and administrative functions. Specialty clinics are a fun setting for medical assistants with enthusiasm for a particular type of medicine.
Medical assistants cannot provide patient care in nursing homes unless they are also certified as nursing assistants, but they fill important roles, such as unit clerks and billing assistants. Their responsibilities may include managing medical records, ordering supplies, being a lab liaison, and giving tours. Medical assistants with an interest in medical finance or marketing will enjoy this diverse setting.
Medical assistants can work in laboratories as clerks, or with a bit more training, as certified phlebotomists. Duties include drawing blood and processing samples. With continuing education, medical assistants can become the medical technologists that perform tests.
Health Insurance Companies
Non-traditional opportunities for medical assistants are growing. The same skills they use in doctor’s offices and hospitals are transferable to the business sector. Whether it is reviewing insurance claims or assisting clients with billing issues, settings like insurance companies and physician billing services need support staff with both clerical and clinical training. Medical assistants with prior business experience may qualify for more advanced positions in these settings.