Healthcare systems rely on a team of professionals from a variety of specialties and each has an important role in ensuring patients receive quality care. Medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative duties that support the work of physicians. Whether they are on the the front line with patients or working behind the scenes, medical assisting professionals are contributing to providing high quality patient care. The medical field continues to grow and evolve and the demand for medical assistants is also increasing. Choosing to pursue a degree in medical assisting is a smart choice for a bright future.
Once you’ve chosen to pursue a degree and certification in medical assisting it is important to take the necessary steps to make sure you are prepared for your future career.
Choose the right program Postsecondary programs in medical assisting are offered in a variety of settings including vocational schools, community colleges, technical schools, and universities. Once you decide to seek a degree in medical assisting it is important to choose the right training program. Evaluate different programs for academic rigor, applied learning opportunities, partnerships with local healthcare systems, job placement rate for graduates, and accreditation status. Since this program will help determine your future career, it is important to choose wisely.
If you are having trouble deciding between programs ask yourself which program:
- Offers the most comprehensive education.
- Provides the most practical experience in clinics, hospitals, or physicians’ offices.
- Has the highest job placement rate for graduates.
- Is accredited through the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Learn all you can Your medical assisting education is centered on a carefully designed curriculum that provides a through preparation. Take advantage of your time in class to ask questions, explore your own thinking, and learn from others. Prepare for each class and study relevant topics that will enhance your understanding. Your coursework is important but don’t limit your learning to just the classroom. There are ways to extend your medical knowledge that may not be found in your textbooks. A local healthcare system may sponsor a lecture series on topics related to your work as a medical assistant. You may also find additional learning opportunities online such as the e-Learning Center from the American Association of Medical Assistants.
Gain valuable experience Effective medical assisting relies on a commitment to hands on practice and applied learning. Spending time in the field is crucial to sharpening your skills and practicing quality patient care. Vital sign assessment, patient preparation for exams, medication administration, physical examination assistance, specimen collection, and performing basic laboratory tests are just a few of the important skills that you will practice in a clinical setting. You can also earn additional experience through volunteer opportunities and employment in the medical field.
Seek certification Pursuing a medical assisting degree allows you to become certified in several different specialities:
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
- Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS)
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
- Certified EKG Technician (CET)
- Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant (CMLA)
Each of these certifications is awarded by the National Healthcareer Association, an organization committed to high quality patient care and well trained healthcare professionals.
Show off your skills Once you’ve earned your degree and have become certified it’s time to secure your first medical assisting job. Applying for employment is the perfect opportunity to put the skills and knowledge you’ve gained to good use. Your chosen specialty will help determine what jobs you’re qualified for and which healthcare setting you’d prefer to work in.
Have you decided to pursue a degree in medical assisting? What are you most looking forward to during your education?