What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are supporting members of the medical field. They don’t make diagnoses, administer medicine or examine patients. They do take vital signs, update patient records, make appointments and get patients ready for examination by the physician. They interact quite a lot with patients, though they may also have administrative and clerical duties.
How do I Become One?- Get a Medical Assistant Certification
Medical assistants don’t necessarily have to have formal training, but many employers prefer to hire assistants who do. Medical attendant classes are available at technical, junior and vocational schools. These programs typically take one year to complete, though some colleges offer two-year programs that culminate in an associate’s degree. There are employers who are willing to hire inexperienced candidates and train them on the job, but these are in the minority.
Medical Assistant Certification is voluntary but, again, many employers prefer to hire certified medical aides. There are several organizations that offer certification, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants. Exact guidelines for earning certification depends on the organization’s rules, but typically include attending an accredited training program and passing an exam. Every organization charges a fee to take the exam.
There were over half a million medical attendants employed in 2012, and most of them work in physicians’ offices, while the rest worked in other healthcare settings like hospitals and laboratories. Most work full-time and may have to work various shifts, depending on the hours of the facility they work for. In 2013, the median income for medical assistants was $29,610, according to O*Net Online. This works out to an hourly wage of about $14.24.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 29 percent increase in job opportunities for medical assistants through the year 2022. This translates to over 162 thousand job openings. This rate of increase is considered better than average, as most occupations are expected to increase by 11 percent. Assistants who attended classes and hold certification are expected to have better prospects than those with no formal training.