Medical Assisting Services

Medical assistants give supplementary aid to doctors, nurses and related health care workers. Unlike other health care careers, the medical assistant can begin work right out of high school or after completing a 1- or 2-year academic program. If this sounds like a career option for you, keep reading.

Are Medical Assisting Services for Me?

Career Details

Medical assistants perform a wide range of duties, both administrative and clinical. In this profession, you might schedule appointments, answer phones and bill insurance companies. Additional responsibilities could include drawing blood, removing sutures, assessing vital signs and assisting with patient exams. You'll need good communication skills in order to work in this field. Medical assistants in the lab, hospital or clinic setting come into contact with blood and other bodily fluids and should have a tolerance for such exposures.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than half of medical assistants worked in physicians' offices in 2012 (www.bls.gov). Assistants also worked in hospitals and nursing homes. Employment for medical assistants was projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2012-2022. As of May 2013, the average annual wage for these professionals was $30,780, reports the BLS.

How Can I Work in Medical Assisting Services?

Training and Education

Some medical assistants learn the necessary skills through on-the-job training. However, the majority of these professionals have at least a high school diploma; many have finished a 1- or 2-year program in medical assisting. The 1-year programs generally award a diploma upon completion, while 2-year medical assisting programs confer an associate's degree. Some of the programs require an externship, which can provide you with work experience in the clinic or medical business office setting.

If you're entering a medical assisting program, you can expect to take both medical and administrative classes, such as human biology, medical terminology, ethics, pharmacology, anatomy, pathology, medical insurance and billing.

Certification

Although national certification is not required, earning a professional credential may lead to additional career opportunities. After graduating from an accredited medical assisting program, you can earn the American Association of Medical Assistants' Certified Medical Assistant designation by taking an exam.

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