The Definition of a Medical Assistant
The term “medical assistant” is a very precise term that refers to an unliceworker in the health care industry. The fact that a medical assistant does not have a license is very important, as they will not be able to implement certain medical strategies while on the job. As such, their responsibilities on the job are limited in certain ways. However, there are definitely some qualifications that a medical assistant must have.
Medical Assistant Qualifications: Educational Qualifications
Contrary to popular belief, most states in the United States do not actually have a formal educational environment for the position of medical assistant. Doctors have the ability to train their own medical assistants. Although there are no true barriers to entry, most medical assistance will at least hold a GED or high school diploma. Because of the increase in competition for the position, most medical assistance will also have completed a dedicated program through a vocational school or community college.
In the states that do have formal regulations for the position of medical assistant, the actual regulations vary. Most of the states will have an exam for the most risky parts of working in a medical office such as taking x-rays. Even if there are no formal regulations within a state to become a medical assistant, four agencies still offer certification that can make a resume stand out from the crowd. The American Association of Medical Assistants, the American Medical Technologists, the National Center for Competency Testing and the National Healthcareer Association all have certification for medical assistants that must be updated every five years.
Medical Assistant Qualifications: Documentation
A medical assistant must be able to tell the difference between very similar types of medical diagnoses. This knowledge is especially important if they perform any billing tasks, as an office stands to lose a great deal of money if there is any miscommunication with insurance companies. Most medical assistants will also be responsible for organizing and populating medical charts. In order to do this, a medical assistant must be incredibly detail oriented and precise to protect the health of the patient. A wrong diagnosis can also lead to legal action. Because of the current HIPAA standards, entering information into a chart also requires a certain amount of computer literacy.
Medical Assistant Qualifications: Personal Characteristics
A medical assistant should be highly detail oriented within all aspects of the position. Doctors are always under the gun when it comes to medical diagnoses and dealing with insurance companies and patients. There is not a great deal of room for error, mistakes or excuses. A medical assistant will often be interacting with people who are upset. He or she must be able to maintain a calm demeanor in such situations.
Depending on the types of tasks that the medical system will be performing in the office, a certain level of manual dexterity will be required. Physical dexterity overall is a definite plus, as a medical assistant usually spends a great deal of the day on his or her feet.