Become a Medical Assistant

Become a Medical Assistant

Article courtesy of Harrison College

Medical Assistants are employed in physicians' offices, medical clinics, laboratories and other healthcare agencies. Medical Assistants are an absolutely vital part of the medical community; they are sometimes the first interaction a patient may have in a medical setting, and are often the connection between the patient and physician.

How to Earn Your Medical Assistant Degree

A Medical Assistant (AAS) program, such as that offered by Harrison College, provides students with the skills necessary to be proficient in procedures for both the front and back medical office. In a good program, students receive hands-on experience so that they are able to assist physicians in minor surgery, perform laboratory tests, assess vital signs, administer medication, operate an ECG machine, and perform other therapeutic modalities prescribed by physicians. 

Important Traits

  • Excellent interpersonal skills, comfortable with listening  to people talk about everything from basic medical questions to difficult, traumatic diagnoses (often referred to as “good bedside manner” in the health sciences)
  • High comfort level with laboratory procedures and handling of body tissue or fluid samples
  • Strong critical thinking; help identify symptoms, make quick assessments and accurately communicate with physicians
  • Eagerness to learn continuously; strong level of curiosity
  • Ongoing dedication to quality care and on-the-job performance

Work Environments

Medical Assistants are employed in physicians' offices, medical clinics, laboratories and other healthcare agencies. You may work in a small, general office or a larger office with several specialties. The diversity of work environments is one of the most attractive qualities of becoming a Medical Assistant. Many discover a specialized field that deeply interests them, and they become Medical Assistants in a health care facility that allows them to pursue the specialty, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics, dermatology and many others.

Being a Medical Assistant can be physically demanding at times, and it keeps you moving much of the day. You may be required to give an injection, apply a dressing to a wound, or enter patient insurance data into the computer.  For many Medical Assistants, the variety of duties (and not being trapped in a quiet cubicle sitting in a chair all day) is a major attraction of the field.

Typical Day

Every day is different, and the tasks you perform will rely on patient needs on any given day, but may include the following.

Front Office:

  • Working at the front desk, registering patients and handling paperwork and scheduling
  • Handling patient concerns and questions
  • Being the very first representative of the office that a patient sees!

Back Office:

  • Set up and assist in minor medical procedures
  • Inventory and order supplies and tools
  • Measure a patient’s vital signs (weight, blood pressure, etc.) and document  his / her chief complaint
  • Perform basic diagnostic tests (urine, blood, etc.)
  • Clean and dress minor wounds
  • Provide patient education, place follow-up phone calls to patients

Typical Attire

Most Medical Assistant positions require that you wear scrubs. However, scrubs are made in dozens--if not hundreds--of styles and themes, appropriate to the type of medical office in which you will work.

Schedule

As a Medical Assistant, the hours are almost always standard business hours. Business hours are approximately 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. There are exceptions; for example, many clinics or practices are beginning to provide Saturday hours and some evening hours to better accommodate patient needs.

Money

The pay will certainly vary according to the location of the job, the size of the organization, and your level of education and experience. In many areas of Indiana, where Harrison College is located, the entry-level pay is somewhere between $22,000 – $26,000, or approximately $10-15 / hour. Plus, many offices provide benefits such as vacation time, health insurance and retirement accounts.

The Future for Medical Assistants

The future for Medical Assistants is extremely good. There is a very high demand for well-trained, quality Medical Assistants all over the United States, and Harrison graduates are placed very quickly. The field is growing and is forecasted to keep growing. The role of the Medical Assistant has actually become more important to the medical community over the past several years, as they take on more responsibility and are depended upon more by physicians.

Some Medical Assistants choose to return to school and pursue further education for career advancement or specialized field, such as Nursing, and they are well prepared to move into this new role. Others, after years of experience, choose to move into teaching at colleges. In larger medical offices, experienced, competent Medical Assistants may also advance to front/back office coordinators or managers.

Article courtesy of Harrison College.

Featured School

NYU School of Professional Studies

The NYU School of Professional Studies Paul McGhee Division provides individuals who have been out of school for several years, as well as those who are transferring directly from a community college or a four-year accredited university, with the opportunity to complete their undergraduate studies. Apply today for the spring semester!

Related Articles