What makes medical assisting an attractive occupation? Have you ever browsed through medical assistant programs to get an insight of what you can learn with this kind of training?
Employment opportunities for medical assistant jobs are rising. They’re a necessary part of the medical team, especially in physician’s clinics or other health practitioners like podiatrists, chiropractors and optometrists.
A medical assistant provides support for the health care professional performing both administrative and clinical functions. The smaller the workplace, the broader your responsibilities and the more well-rounded you become as an allied health worker.
What Training Will You Need
Many medical assistants have found jobs meeting just the minimum requirement: a high school diploma. Some have a little office work experience, others volunteer experience in a medical setting. But generally, they learned everything on the job. Their employers invested in them, training them as they went along or eventually sent them to any accredited medical assisting schools to learn the basics or to upgrade their skills later.
But the health care system today is a bit more complex as it serves more patients and with insurance playing a big part in the process. So many employers now lean towards workers with formal training and some medical background and even give preference to those holding certifications as proof of their competence.
Formal medical assistant training is either through a diploma or certificate program, which can be completed between nine to 12 months; or you can choose to prepare more extensively and take up a medical assisting associate degree.
Medical assistant programs are numerous, and whichever you eventually decide on the main criteria should be its accreditation either with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. There are 700 accredited medical assistant programs as of 2009, both online and traditional.
What Courses Are Included In Medical Assistant Programs
So what can you expect from a medical assistant program? As previously mentioned, your job is divided into two categories: clerical/administrative and clinical. If you worked in a bigger medical facility, there may be specific tasks assigned to you. But often in smaller workplaces like doctor’s clinics, you will have to fill in both roles. Necessarily, your training is two-pronged to meet this requirement.
The coursework for administrative skills will include basic office procedures, keyboarding and computer operations, English composition and communication, medical coding and insurance processing, record-keeping, and medical transcription. These may vary depending on the school or program you are pursuing. If you plan on becoming a medical office assistant, you’ll go through every one of these courses.
The clinical portion includes subjects on anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, endocrinology, clinical laboratory procedures, first aid and basic patient care. Some advance medical assistant programs may offer radiology, phlebotomy or venipuncture and ECG operations that will also lead to additional medical assistant certification.
The curriculum will vary depending on the kind of program you choose to pursue. With a diploma or certificate program, you only have at most 12 months to complete the course and this will – as per state requirements – include instructional and laboratory classes plus externship.
The didactics make up about 60 to 70% of the program, but the clinicals are just as important in order to put theory into practice and become a confident worker. Medical assistant schools in Michigan may require more hours than in NYC or CT, so you must first check on these before enrolling.
Medical assistant programs with advance courses may mean more investment, but in the end these additional skills and certification will give you an added advantage when seeking employment, it could also lead to a higher salary. Presently, the average medical assistant salary ranges from $22,000 to $31,000 and the disparity is largely due to education.
Now that you have a heads up on what to expect from medical assistant programs, you can make that all important decision whether this is a career you will want to pursue or not.