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How to Become a Medical Assistant

There is a lot of secondary support that goes into a physician’s office to keep them ready for patients. Rooms need to be cleaned, schedules need to be made, and much more. Tasks that the physicians themselves wouldn’t have the time for.

Medical assistants handle a large portion of the service and support requirements of these offices. They can maintain patient records, set up appointments, prepare rooms, and handle the majority of the administrative tasks of the office. Additionally, they can take care of plenty of clinical needs as well. They can take vitals, prepare patients, assist with procedures, and more.

As a medical assistant, you’ll want to have excellent interpersonal skills. The ability to communicate with doctors and patients clearly and concisely is a great benefit. Having a solid grasp of medical practices, lingo, and processes is a big plus.

Sample job description

A medical assistant is needed for hire at [Your Company Name]. The role of the medical assistant involves many minor tasks and responsibilities. While there are several clinical duties to accomplish, there are also administrative duties. It is the assistant’s job to take care of phone calls, whether it is answering patients’ questions or asking for information from a client. When clients enter the building, it is often the responsibility of the assistant to escort them to and from their appointments. Scheduling appointments on behalf of the doctors is a necessary task as well, allowing professionals to make the most out of their time. Outside of these administrative tasks, there are also a handful of medical tasks. These include taking patients’ data, recording vital signs, and taking tissue and blood samples for lab work. If you think you are skilled with interacting with people, as well as organized, this may be the role for you! 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Answer phones
  • Schedule appointments
  • Record patients’ medical history and personal information
  • Process bills and insurance forms
  • Measure vital signs, such as pulse and blood pressure
  • Help doctors with patient exams
  • Prepare blood and urine samples for laboratory tests
  • Give patients medication or injections, if permitted 

Education and experience

Medical assistants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Post-secondary education, such as vocational training or an associate degree, is preferred. Several types of certifications are available, although many employers do not require them. In some states, medical assistants must graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Computer skills, including Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)
  • Experience with electronic health records (EHRs)
  • Strong interpersonal skills for dealing with patients, doctors, and staff
  • Discretion and the ability to handle confidential information
  • Ability to multitask and prioritize workload
  • Calm, professional demeanor
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with scheduling software
  • Medical assistant certification
  • Experience working with scared or nervous patients, like children
  • Excellent bedside manner

Typical work environment

For this job, you will have the opportunity to be in different healthcare facilities. This ranges from hospitals, medical clinics, outpatient care centers, colleges/universities, medical research centers, and many more facilities. You can expect your hours to be different than a regular 9-5, as healthcare is a field needed day and night. Keeping up with sanitary for this job is essential as well, as it has the possibility of ruining procedures. Overall, if you have the ability to constantly switch tasks, organize, and communicate with people, you may be qualified for this role.

Typical hours

Medical assistants work a variety of schedules because some health-care facilities are open early in the morning, late at night, or 24 hours a day. As a result, medical assistants might work evenings, weekends, or holidays to cover the different shifts.

Available certifications

A medical assistant may benefit from having certifications that improve the application process and medical process. Some of the relevant certifications to the position of a medical assistant may include the following:

  • CCMA. The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant is an exam designed for you to prove your worth in the medical field. The requirements for this exam are not too difficult, in consideration of the responsibility of the role. Because medical assistants have a large variety of tasks, CCMA makes sure to cover as much as possible to help you succeed in your field. 
  • CMA. The Certified Medical Assistant certification is one of the most accepted and well-known credentials to have. It gives you the opportunity to prove to higher-ups and employers that you have the skills necessary to thrive in this line of work. On top of all this, the certification only needs to be renewed every five years, requiring a pass on an exam. 89% of employers wish or require certification, so you don’t have any reason not to!

Career path

The first step to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. Courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy would be helpful. Employers prefer candidates with some post-secondary education, such as vocational training or an associate degree. Most states do not require medical assistants to be certified, but several types of certifications are available, including Certified Medical Assistant and Registered Medical Assistant.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 31-9092

2020 Employment720,900
Projected Employment in 2030853,500
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 18% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift132,600 increase

Some medical assistants decide to specialize in either administrative or clinical work, especially those employed by large hospitals or clinics. Others specialize according to the type of medical office where they work – for example, optometry or podiatry.

According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, the growing number of older Americans who need medical care and advancements in technology means that medical assistants are in high demand.

Experience working with electronic health records (EHRs) will become increasingly important as employers move away from paperwork.