How Can I Become a Certified Podiatry Assistant?

Research what it takes to become a certified podiatry assistant. Learn about training requirements, salary, job duties and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Podiatry Assistant?

A certified podiatry assistant is a medical assistant who specializes in helping doctors who treat foot problems. Medical assistants working in podiatry offices perform both clinical and clerical duties. On the administrative side, they are involved in scheduling and billing. On the medical side, they can provide basic care and assist podiatrists with diagnostic tests and foot treatments, which could entail developing x-rays, assisting with surgery and making castings of patients' feet. Although most states do not require medical assistants to be certified, earning a voluntary professional certification can boost job prospects.

The table below can you tell about the education that you need to work in this position, along with career statistics.

Education & Training Required On-the-job training or postsecondary certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Medical assisting
Key Responsibilities Sterilize instruments, changing dressings, assist podiatrists in surgery, develop x-rays
Certification/Licensure Certification is voluntary; licensure may be required to operate x-ray equipment
Job Growth (2014-2024) 23% (for all medical assistants)*
Average Salary (2015) $31,910 (for all medical assistants in physicians' offices)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Certified Podiatry Assistant?

Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in foot-related medicine, and podiatry assistants are medical assistants who work under the supervision of podiatrists. Medical assistants perform different duties depending on the physician or office for which they work, and as a podiatry assistant you may be responsible for both administrative and medical tasks. You would help podiatrists work with patients who have foot infections, arthritis, bunions and foot and ankle injuries. You would also help the doctor to examine, diagnose and treat patients with these maladies and more.

What Education Do I Need?

You could begin working as a medical assistant with just a high school diploma, or you could enroll in a medical assistant training program at the certificate or associate's degree level. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredits medical assisting programs that can teach you the basics of medical office administration as well as provide you with clinical and laboratory skills (www.caahep.org). In order to learn the skills specific to podiatry assisting, you may need to train on the job in a podiatrist's office.

How Do I Become Certified?

The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA) offers the Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified (PMAC) designation (www.aspma.org). You can gain this credential by becoming a member of ASPMA and by receiving a passing score on the examination for certification. Although there are no licensing requirements for medical assistants, your state may have requirements regarding the operation of x-ray machinery, so check for your state's specific regulations.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants was projected to increase by 23% in the decade from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). With a growing aging population, podiatrists will be more in demand to treat increasing foot-related injuries and diabetic foot complications, and they will require well-trained podiatry assistants to help run their offices and care for their patients.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Medical assistant jobs are available in many different types of healthcare facilities. You can find a job in the office of another kind of specialist, such as a dermatologist, or you could work in a more general setting, like a family practice or hospital. If you are particularly drawn to the clinical aspect of medical assisting, you might also want to think about a job as a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN). These nurses work under the supervision of doctors and higher-level nurses to provide basic medical care and assist with treatments. For this job, it is necessary to complete a postsecondary certificate program and pass a state licensure exam.

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