Most careers are fulfilling as long as there’s a ladder to climb. However, when you run out of rungs, it feels like you’re hitting a wall. Being challenged and loving what you do is an important part of life, so it pays to position yourself well in the job market. If you want a career with ample opportunities, consider becoming a medical assistant.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants are clinical and administrative support specialists. Allied health professionals, they manage a broad range of tasks in healthcare settings from private practices to hospitals.
Job descriptions vary depending on where you work, but your responsibilities may include:
- Answering phones
- Managing the schedule
- Triaging clinical calls
- Rooming patients
- Taking vital signs
- Updating health records
- Stocking shelves
- Sanitizing exam rooms
- Taking EKGs
- Performing basic lab tests
- Drawing blood
- Collecting urine samples
- Administering medications
- Assisting with treatments and surgical procedures
- Transmitting prescription refills
- Basic wound care
- Sterilizing instruments
- Billing and coding
- Light bookkeeping
- Patient education
A medical assistant’s skill set is an asset in any medical facility.
Opportunities That Come with Being a Medical Assistant
Job satisfaction among medical assistants is high. Why? Because beyond a steady paycheck, the field offers lifestyle-friendly perks too good to ignore. Medical assistants enjoy:
A Vibrant Job Market
The first step to cultivating a career is to find a good first job. In some fields, that is easier said than done. But the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong demand for medical assistants through 2031, projected growth of 16 percent. And with demand comes opportunity. As the baby boomers continue to age, more jobs will be created.
It’s like a buyer’s market for job seekers. Having more positions to choose from allows you to be more selective, so you can find a good fit. Starting at the bottom in any field can feel suffocating, but the right medical assisting job is more of a launch pad than a rut. You’ll move forward in no time.
Flexible Work Environments
Some jobs are limited to a single type of workplace. A decade ago, medical assistants worked almost exclusively in private practices, but today, more are employed in other settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, chiropractors, insurance companies, long-term care facilities, government offices, and billing services. And their roles continue to expand.
If you enjoy hustle and bustle, hospitals are exciting. You’ll meet many new people and encounter unusual cases that you won’t run into in doctor’s offices. However, if a relaxed pace is more your style, working in a private practice is predictable but not boring. You’ll see the same patients more often, so you’ll connect on an emotional level. Regardless of what type of environment you enjoy, there’s an opportunity for you as a medical assistant.
Careers in healthcare have many benefits, but predictable schedules aren’t always one of them.
In a 24-7 field, jobs like nursing are a commitment. Direct care staff work nights, weekends, holidays, and overtime. And many are on an on-call rotation. However, medical assistants can expect a more reasonable work-life balance with plenty of time off for family and personal pursuits.
Most work Monday through Friday in office settings. Even in hospitals, medical assistants rarely have evening or weekend hours. There are exceptions, a plus for night owls and parents with kids at home, but on-call demands and mandatory overtime are nearly unheard of because medical assistants are not emergency workers. When you clock in for your shift, you can expect to leave on time.
Certification is the gold standard in most industries. It demonstrates professional competency and dedication to the field. Medical assistants don’t have to be certified, but it sparkles on a resume. Medical assistants have had certification opportunities for decades now.
What does it take to become certified? For most graduates, all you need to sit for the exam is a vocational school diploma from an accredited institution. The curriculum covers exam topics including:
- Anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology
- Clinical skills
- Office procedures
- Computer applications
- Billing and coding
- Medical law and ethics
- Public and private insurance models
- Laboratory protocols
The most sought-after credentials are the Certified Medical Assistant certificates offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and The National Center for Competency Testing. However, any certification you earn is a feather in your cap and builds on your education.
Medical assistants are eligible for dozens of specialty certifications. If you prefer clinical responsibilities, for example, you can become a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant through the National Healthcare Career Association (NHA).
Or choose from one of 13 specialty certifications in areas from cardiology and urology to pediatrics and women’s health. If you’re passionate about a specific type of medicine, being certified can help you land your dream job in specialty practice.
A Supportive Environment
No one is an island. It takes the support of others to make the most of personal and employment opportunities. Medical assistants are lucky to work in a mutually supportive, team-based environment in which professionals and peers work together toward a common goal.
As graduates in a new field, many people feel alone at their jobs. They want to get ahead but are treated by others as competition and not colleagues. In medicine, skill building is encouraged, and camaraderie is the rule, not the exception.
Contrary to popular belief, medical assisting is not a new career. It’s as old as many professions, dating back to the late 1800s. However, it also has organizational support that some fields don’t.
The most promising industries are those with committed leaders who fight for professional recognition. For medical assistants, that group is the AAMA. Established in 1956, it supports the training and interests of medical assistants nationwide. From developing educational curricula and certification standards to promoting the credibility of medical assistants, they’re almost single-handedly responsible for the many opportunities medical assistants have today, and their mission continues.
What does the future hold? The AAMA has a long-term strategic plan to improve continuing education, compensation, and networking opportunities for its nearly 20,000 members.
Do you enjoy what you do? Does it give you a deep sense of satisfaction and meaning? If you don’t, life’s too short not to make a change. Medical assisting allows you to help others in impactful ways.
As a frontline worker, you’ll be a gateway to services for your community and individuals. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need more hands-on deck.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to serve those in need, medical assistants play a pivotal role. You’ll be gratified and others will benefit. It’s a win-win.
How Do You Become a Medical Assistant?
Most professional roles in the healthcare field take years in college to train for, but you can become a medical assistant in as little as 12 months by enrolling full-time in a vocational school program.
The curriculum is focused but thorough, it’s not a shortcut. Students graduate faster but are still well-prepared because programs don’t include unnecessary electives. An 18th-century literature class may be personally enriching, but it doesn’t develop your skills as a medical assistant.
Formal training isn’t required to be a medical assistant, but it’s the industry standard. On-the-job training is rare since most employers hire trained applicants with proven skills, and it sets the stage for certification. Nothing opens doors like a diploma.
And the benefits of a vocational school education doesn’t stop there. Their career advisers are job placement specialists. Forget scrolling through the job hunting websites, they’ll connect you with local employers looking for new hires. As a graduate, you’ll be in the right place at the right time when your special opportunity knocks. Better institutions offer lifetime career services.
Opportunities are no accident. They’re created through hard work and forward-thinking. If you’re not happy in your current job, why not take steps to bring more joy to your life and secure a better future? Train now to become a medical assistant.
Want to Learn More?
Ohio Business College’s Medical Assisting training program will prepare you for a career as a medical assistant capable of working in any medical office or facility. Our school’s caring instructors have real world experience will teach you the necessary skills to succeed in the medical assisting profession over the course of our comprehensive training program. We have smaller class sizes than other schools, which gives you more access to personalized attention from our knowledgeable instructors.
If you are interested in a medical assistant profession, let Ohio Business College answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our Medical Assistant programs.