Training to become a medical assistant in Washington DC may lead to a variety of jobs at pharmacies, hospitals, and laboratories. Common responsibilities of medical assistants include inputting data into patient medical charts, working in administrative jobs at clinics or medical offices, and taking the vital signs of patients.
Prerequisites Before Training
Most medical assistant jobs require a postsecondary certificate. These programs generally need a high school diploma or a GED as an entry prerequisite. Students may expect to take classes in chemistry, biology, and anatomy during training and will want to take as many science courses in high school as possible.
Entering a Training Program
The majority of postsecondary education programs will lead to a certification after about a year of study. However, some community colleges and universities offer longer programs that may offer an associate’s degree. There are a small number of medical assistants who enter the profession without formal training while gaining training on the job. However, these jobs are usually hard to find.
Although medical assistants are not required to be certified, most employers prefer job applicants who have received formal training and have been credentialed by one of the following organizations:
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Center for Competency Testing
- National Healthcareer Association
Each organization provides a different type of credential; however, it’s not necessary for a medical assistant to obtain credentials from every organization.
The AMT offers a simple certification process that requires passing an exam and paying a fee. Before qualifying for the test, an applicant must complete a training program to become a medical assistant. Likewise, the AAMA provides a similar route to certification which requires a fee and a test.
It’s important to remember that the test can only be taken for 60 months after graduation before further classroom study may be required. Further, eligible programs must be listed with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or with the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Continuing Professional Education (CPE)
Organizations like the AAMA provide self-study options as well as a variety of continuing professional education courses designed to certify or recertify medical assistants. After successful certification, a medical assistant will be current for 60 months before he or she needs to look into recertification and additional training.
Common and Legally Authorized Tasks of a Medical Assistant
Because there is no state requirement regarding licensure or certification of medical assistants, the state has not created a concrete set of rules and guidelines for the responsibilities of the profession. Certain tasks in the medical field do require degrees, certifications, or other authorizations and a doctor or nurse in a medical facility will offer guidance on what tasks a medical assistant may or may not perform.
Common responsibilities of an entry-level medical assistant may include performing EKGs, handling basic office duties, creating patient schedules, and acting as an assistant to a physician or nurse. The duties of a medical assistant will usually bridge the gap between clerical responsibilities and medical tasks.
Future Success for Medical Assistants
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that medical assistant jobs will be added to the economy at a terrific rate and may approach 29% growth over the next decade, which is much faster than the average growth expected for all types of employment. Entering the healthcare profession is a wonderful decision for anyone who wants to further his or her career and enjoy future employment success.