What Is A Medical Assistant?

Doctor’s offices and other medical practices are busy places and their success depends on medical assistants to take care of the routine tasks that other employees on staff cannot tend to. Their duties will differ from one location to another depending on the type and size of the facility or office they work in.

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Take your career to a whole new level with a degree from Everest Institute. Programs available in Accounting, Paralegal, Business Administration and more.

Programs:

  • Medical Assistant (Diploma)
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Florida Technical College has structured its Health Care, Technology, and Programming curricula to achieve one thing for its students: success in the real world.

Programs:

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About the College of Westchester

Since 1915, The College of Westchester (CW) has focused on the career success of its students. CW's academic programs are carefully designed to provide the skills and competencies most desired by employers. Our campus environment is highly personal and our culture centers on service to students. CW faculty is selected based on experience, credentials and a caring attitude to bring real world knowledge to the classroom. The College's technologies and web-enhanced learning tools give students anywhere, anytime connectivity to courses, professors, classmates and services. The College of Westchester offers an exceptional experience that can lead to a lifetime of achievement and success.

Programs:

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Locations: White Plains

American Career College (ACC) offers hands-on training that will prepare students for careers in the healthcare industry at three campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario, and Orange County, California. ACC's programs combine classroom lectures and hands-on training to prepare students for a Diploma or Associate of Occupational Science degree.

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Keiser University offers accredited degree programs in today's in demand careers: Healthcare, Technology, Paralegal, Business, Nursing and Legal Studies.

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Get allied health training with Ross Medical Education Center. We offer programs in dental assisting, medical assisting, medical insurance billing and office administration, and pharmacy tech.

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At Everest University you can get a higher education designed to meet the demands of employers in some of today's hottest fields.

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Welcome to Carrington College - The Starting Point for Health Care Careers. With roots that date back more than 45 years, Carrington College has helped to shape the careers of tens of thousands of students as they prepare to enter health care professions.

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Virginia College  continues the tradition ofgiving lives new direction, fulfilling our mission statement tostudents wherever they live and offering the chance to pursue adegree while maintaining commitments to work and family.

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Explore a new career with Pima Medical Institute. We offer a number of certificate, associate, and bachelor's degree programs in the medical, allied health, dentistry, nursing, mortuary science, veterinary, and massage therapy fields.

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At a Glance

Medical Assistant TrainingOther Job Titles: Medical Office Assistant, Assistant Medical Officer, Clinical Assistant
Salary Range: $20,000-$40,000; Median $29,000
Education/Training Required:
High school diploma or equivalency
Desired Skills/Aptitude:
Interpersonal and communication skills; technical skills to use equipment for measuring vital signs; computer skills; detail-oriented
Certification/Licensing:
Not required but certification is available
Locations with Best Opportunities:
California, Idaho, District of Columbia, Connecticut
Employment Outlook:
Expected growth by 31% to 2020 (faster than average)
Opportunities for Advancement:
With continuing education, any medical field is open; Continuing education allows physicians to use medical assistants on tasks of greater complexity provided they are allowed to by state law.

What a Medical Assistant Does

It is important to recognize that a medical assistant is not the same as a physician’s assistant. Physician’s assistants work more with doctors in diagnosing and treating patients.

A medical assistant performs a variety of tasks to keep a clinic or other medical practice running smoothly and efficiently. Their responsibilities can be categorized in the following tasks groups of a medical facility:

  • Administrative
  • Patient care
  • Operations
  • Laboratory

They handle basic administrative tasks that are necessary in a medical office. This includes duties such as updating medical records and scheduling appointments. They may also deal with suppliers, maintenance personnel, and anything else that a doctor needs. Increasingly, with more healthcare facilities using electronic claims submissions, the medical assistant may be involved with the proper coding of those claims using CPT, ICD, and HCPCs code terminology.

Assistants are involved in patient care and usually are the most visible to the many that come to a facility each day. Any problems a patient may have will typically be seen to by an assistant.

They are also on the front lines of office operations. Sometimes you will find them doing lab sample processing, taking vital signs, arranging procedures, and preparing patients for exams. Using them on these tasks depends upon their level of training.

A medical assistant may be specialized in larger healthcare facilities. For example, there might be those who do strictly paperwork, claims transmissions, and recordkeeping. These would be classified as administrative medical assistants.

Then, those who work more on the clinical/laboratory side would be classified as clinical medical assistants. The latter would be responsible for such tasks as sterilizing medical equipment, drawing blood, removing stitches, and instructing patients on medication.

The Workplace

Medical assistants work mostly in doctor’s offices and healthcare clinics. In doctor’s offices, they are usually fulltime employees. In hospital and other 24-hour facilities, they may work shifts.

Education and Certification

If in high school, a student who desires to become a medical assistant should take courses in anatomy, biology, and chemistry.

Most states do not require formal post-secondary education to be a medical assistant. However, you improve your chances of being hired by completing a certificate program or associate’s degree program through a vocational or trade school.

Usually, there is no certification requirement for medical assistants but will help with employment opportunities as well. Certification is available in four ways:

  • CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant through the National Health Career Association)
  • CMA (Certified Medical Assistant through the American Association of Medical Assistants or AAMA)
  • RMA (Registered Medical Assistant through the American Medical Technologists)
  • NCMA (National Certified Medical Assistant through the National Center for Competency Testing)

The only certification that requires post-secondary education is the CMA. The training program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).