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Do you have a passion for helping others and a genuine interest in the medical field? If you have outstanding attention to detail, time management, organization, and people skills, you may find that a career as a medical assistant makes great use of your talents and interests.
A medical assistant is an attendant who works alongside physicians and nurses to handle basic clinical and clerical tasks. He or she assists other medical professionals with everyday activities that are critical to the daily operation of the facility. A medical assistant helps to manage patient files, take and record vital signs, prepare tests, and collect information. The specific duties of the medical assistant will vary by location, as they may work in practices with different specialties and of varying sizes.
There are some specializations within the field of medical assistants. If you prefer one type of task over another, working within a specialty field can help you ultimately log more hours doing the type of work you love. If you prefer the clerical side of this position, consider a career as an administrative medical assistant. In this role, you’ll focus on medical coding, record management, appointment setting, and other duties associated with a receptionist or administrative assistant.
If you’re more interested in the clinical side of the job, look for a position as a clinical medical assistant. These professionals work more closely with lab testing, equipment sterilization and prep, and routine tests. A clinical medical assistant may even perform basic medical duties such as drawing blood, changing wound dressings, or removing stitches.
The job outlook for medical assistants is excellent in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), offers some promising data. Employment opportunities are expected to increase by an impressive 29 percent over the 2016 to 2026 decade.
This projected level of job growth is better than the average of only seven percent that's expected for all US occupations. It’s also higher than the 22 percent growth expected for other positions in healthcare support.
The aging baby boomer generation is creating a growing need for medical professionals of all kinds. Not only are existing professionals reaching retirement age, these older Americans have a greater need for reliable and consistent healthcare. Medical assistants are positioned in a flexible occupation where they can often find work in varying specialties. Their ability to assist both with administrative duties and medical tasks makes them an invaluable resource in modern medical facilities.
Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 57 percent of medical assistants are employed in these types of jobs. Even with a physician’s office, the medical assistant might work within a specialty area, such as a pediatrician’s office or a neurologist’s practice.
About 15 percent of medical assistants work in hospitals. Nine percent are employed in outpatient care centers, and four percent work in chiropractors’ offices. Medical assistants typically work full time, but their hours will vary with those of their employer. Some physicians’ offices are open on evenings or weekends to accommodate patients’ busy schedules. Hospitals are open all the time, so medical assistants in this area may have to work overnight or on holidays as well.
Medical assistants must usually have some sort of post-secondary training to pursue a career in this field. This might be an associate degree, certificate, or diploma. There are no legal requirements for a medical assistant’s education, but employers prefer job candidates who have a strong background in this area and a well-rounded understanding of basic medical principles and clinical tasks. You should focus on an education that will give you a solid knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry, and business.
Another great option is the Medical Assisting Associate Degree from Bryant & Stratton College. This degree covers many critical topics that will help you land a job as a medical assistant. Courses include medical terminology, clinical procedures, pharmacology, and computing skills. The right education will give you a competitive edge in your job search.
A Practical Nursing Diploma will ultimately prepare you for a career in nursing. In addition to a job as a medical assistant, you might also look for work as a:
With an AAS Medical Assisting Degree, you can look for job titles such as:
With a background in medical assisting or nursing, you’ll be equipped for many rewarding jobs in an area with strong employment growth.
Please note that statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are included for informational purposes only. This is not a guarantee of employment.
For more insights on your career options in healthcare, check out the healthcare degrees section of our blog. You’ll find valuable information to help you plan your future.