Medical assistants work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing home and other medical facilities completing a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks. Some medical assistants will specialize in certain tasks, such as an administrative medical assistant who may spend all day scheduling appointments or a clinical medical assistant who may spend all day taking patient medical histories, but most medical assistants will be required to be flexible and complete different tasks throughout the day as needed.
For those looking for a new career opportunity, medical assisting can provide a stable and lucrative occupational opportunity. With the expansion of medical coverage through the Affordable Care Act and the overall aging of the American population, the demand for well-trained medical staff, including medical assistants, should continue to increase. In fact, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau for Labor Statistics expects a high level of demand for Medical Assistants in the coming decade. This demand will create job opportunities and will likely result in rising wages. To be best positioned to succeed as a medical assistant in coming years, a person will need to obtain a well-rounded and quality education.
In most areas, medical assistants only need a high school diploma. However, the best opportunities are for those applicants who have completed a formal education program. Medical assisting schools and programs offer students the opportunity to learn the skills needed to start or further a career in medical assisting. Medical assistant programs vary in length, but most programs of study will last for a period of one to two years. Most programs will utilize both classroom learning as well as in the field training to help students to gain hands on experience and to learn about the job. The opportunity to work in the field also helps students to build a network of medical professionals who can later help them to find jobs after graduation.
Classroom instruction will focus on both administrative and clinical skills that are commonly required for medical assistants. For example, specific classes may focus on administrative skills such as operating general office and medical computer programs, confidentiality, compliance and medical coding. Classes focusing on clinical skills may cover subjects such as taking blood pressure and pulse rates, basic pharmacology and lab testing skills such as preparing samples. In most cases, classes will also be given on basic biology and general health sciences to provide students with a broad based education which will help the student to obtain a general understanding of medical principles.
By completing a medical assistant education program now, a student can quickly gain the job skills needed to get started in this growing career field. In fact, many schools that provide medical assistant education programs will have an ongoing relationship with the larger medical employers in an area such as the local hospitals. This relationship can help students who are graduating from the program to obtain employment after graduation. In many cases, students may even have a standing job offer from an employer on the day that he or she graduates from the program. Most schools will also help students to find work by keeping them informed of job openings and referring the student’s information to employers.