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People who care about others are often drawn to the field of medicine, but going to medical school to become a doctor may not be realistic for them. Instead, many people decide to go into nursing, seek training to work as laboratory technicians or medical assistants. There are many learning institutions which specialize in medical assistant training and many of them are affordable for most people seeking a career in medicine.
What is a Medical Assistant?
If you want to know what does a medical assistant do? then you will need to know what medical assistants are. Medical assistants work with doctors to provide both clinical and administrative duties. They usually work in outpatient clinics or doctor’s offices and help to:
- Greet patients
- Update medical records
- Arrange for addition medical services, such as admission to hospitals or lab work.
- Schedule appointments
- Draw blood
- Collect lab specimens
- Perform lab tests
- Administer medications under doctors’ advisement
- Remove sutures
- Redress wounds
These duties can expedite a patient’s care in clinic environments and allow doctors to spend more time with patients discussing their conditions and treatments. In addition to working with doctors in offices and clinics, some of them work for home health agencies, so they provide care for those who are homebound. They may also provide care in areas where there are doctor shortages, such as rural areas and be supervised by physician assistants.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
Most people who decide on a career as a medical assistant will take the appropriate classes to become one. Some of these institutions will provide certifications, which is always a good idea to have because most doctors and clinics prefer to hire certified personnel. In some cases, medical assistants may receive on the job training instead of taking formal classes.
Most states do not require medical assistants to have licenses, so after receiving a certification, a trained medical assistant can start working when they find a job they want. The outlook for medical assistant jobs is good as the field is expected to grow by 23% until 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those with a certification and training in electronic health records, EHRs, have the best career prospects.
There are different certifications available for medical assistants, with the most common being a Certified Medical Assistant, CMA, from the American Association of Medical Assistants. Other certifications include a Registered Medical Assistant, RMA, with certification from American Medical Technologists or a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, CCMA, through the National Healthcare Association.
How Much Can Medical Assistants Make?
The pay rate of medical assistants will vary depending on their education, experience and their working environment. Those working in outpatient clinics usually make more money and medical assistants who work for other healthcare providers, such as physician assistants, usually make the least. The median wage for a medical assistant is $30,590 or just under $15 per hour.
If you wish to work in the healthcare field, earning a CMA is a good way to get started.