Medical Assisting programs are designed to teach students the basic practices of the medical field, such as phlebotomy and vital health recording. Students in these programs should be good with people, as in many situations Medical Assistants are always the first and sometimes only medical professional that a patient may interact with during an appointment or checkup. The job of the Medical Assistant can be a bit difficult, since these are the individuals typically tasked with calming and reassuring patients during stressful times, as well as being responsible for things like administering shots or other medicines while managing to update and record accurate records of patient vitals.
Many of these professionals take work in smaller offices, but larger establishments such as hospitals or rehabilitation centers typically also host many Medical Assisting jobs as well. Most Medical Assistants complete their education through career training schools or community colleges before receiving Certification or Associates' Degrees, but there are also many specific Licenses that these individuals may obtain, such as Phlebotomy Proficiency.
While enrolled in a Medical Assisting program, you'll learn about anatomy & physiology topics, of course, but programs will also include classes in accounting, insurance processing, lab techniques, medical law & ethics, medical terminology and pharmaceutical principles. The coursework you'll complete is designed largely as a career training program, designed to ensure that your voyage into a medical career is a successful one.
The best way to choose a school for Medical Assisting is exactly the same as choosing an institution for any other field. Start by making a list of schools that offer the programs that can help you reach your career goals. Then narrow the list down by checking into each school and program's respective accreditation and reputation. Next, beginning sorting through more program-specific qualities, such as the types of courses offered, the clinical hours required, job placement services, internship assistance, etc. Finally, all that's left is to decide which program is the best fit for you.
The majority of Medical Assisting programs you find are likely to lead to Professional Licensure rather than any Degree, but typically this sort of Certification is the standard in hiring for these positions. Most MA programs are actually less than a year in length, but many students go on to earn additional Certificates in related fields like Phlebotomy or Medical Transcription. While working in the medical field, many Medical Assistants continue their education, moving on to become nurses, doctors and even hospital administrators.
While most programs do lead to Certificates, there are Medical Assisting Associates' Degrees available as well. These programs are typically chosen by students looking to further their ambitions in the field, typically earning an Associates' in Medical Assisting, a Bachelors' in Nursing and potentially down the road going to Medical School or earning a Graduate-level Degree in Healthcare Administration. Whichever program students choose, however, finding work as a Medical Assistant won't be a great challenge, as it is one of the fastest-growing fields in Healthcare.
Many Medical Assisting principles can be learned online, as the nature of the practice is comprised of an academic side and a clinical practice side. Courses are available for medical computer applications, medical terminology and insurance billing & coding. Many of the physical practice areas, however, can truly only be learned through practice and experience, and for these lessons students will be required to participate in lab and clinical settings.
High school students leaning towards working as Medical Assistants should take advantage of these tips to help prepare for their transition to higher learning:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a great outlook for Medical Assistants over the next few years. In fact, the BLS calls Medical Assisting one of the fastest-growing fields in the nation for years to come. By being able to finish school in two years or less, as well as finding work easily straight from your program's graduation, Medical Assisting has made itself one of the most popular fields among the nation's students.
On a daily basis, Medical Assistants will typically be responsible for things like basic patient care, vital readings, administering shots or stitches (although each state will have their own laws regarding exactly what MA's are allowed to do in these areas), preparing patients for consultations from their physicians and, of course, a broad range of clerical tasks such as medical insurance billing & coding. A lot of Medical Assisting students work their way into more specialized positions over time, moving on to work in roles like Physical Therapists or Emergency Med Techs. The skills taught by Medical Assisting programs are highly valued throughout the medical community and often regarded as the foundation of all medicinal practice.