How Hard is It to Become a Medical Assistant? - SALTER College
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How Hard is It to Become a Medical Assistant?

Relevant Campus(es): West Boylston

Young African American woman in a Medical Assisting program class.

Certain qualities are important to have as a medical assistant

Are you looking for medical assistant schools in Massachusetts? If you are thinking about a new career in this field, you might be wondering “Is medical assistant a good career choice for me?” Choosing a career field is an important decision in your life. How do you know if the career you are choosing will be a field that you enjoy? How do you know if you’ll be good at it?

This article looks at some of the traits, qualities, and qualifications of becoming a medical assistant. Take a moment and see if you think your strengths, interests, and abilities line up well with this career field. If they do, you may be one step closer to the start of a new chapter in your life!

What traits are important for medical assistants?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor, there are a number of traits that will help you, if you choose to pursue a career as a medical assistant. Some of these may be natural traits that you already have, and others can be developed during a career training program. Take a look, and see how these qualities fit you:

1. Good analytical skills

What does it mean to have good analytical skills? It means that you are able to look at information and understand what it means. As a medical assistant, you will need to have good analytical skills so that you can understand patients’ medical charts, doctors’ instructions, office schedules, insurance forms, and other documentation that is important to the job. If you think you have a good mind for following instructions and protocols, then this career field could work for you.

2. Good with details

The field of medicine and medical assisting can be a very precise field. The reason that a medical assistant needs to have strong attention to detail is that the patient’s health is at the center of everything you will do. You will need to know how to take vital signs accurately, such as blood pressure and temperature. You will need to record a patient’s history carefully. You will need to follow step-by-step protocols to administer an injection safely. You will need to read dosages correctly when submitting a prescription for refill. These are just a few examples of why medical assistants need to be careful with details.

3. Good with people

One of the greatest benefits of being a medical assistant is that you get to interact with patients. You are usually the first to greet a patient and get them set up in their exam room. This gives you a chance for a friendly conversation before their appointment with the doctor begins. In this role, you are representing your employer. That’s why it’s important that you are a “people” person who enjoys making people feel comfortable and at ease. This will not only improve your own job enjoyment, but it will also reflect well on your employer. If you want to improve your people skills and other “soft skills,” try Soft Skills You Need for Every Job.

4. Good at communicating

Communications skills are an important part of most jobs, and particularly so in the healthcare field. For most patient interactions, there is a whole team of healthcare workers who are involved…from the medical assistant to the general physician to the specialist to the medical biller or medical coder. It is important that everyone in this pipeline is communicating clearly. A medical assistant needs to communicate and document the patient’s health history, the patient’s health concerns, what procedures were done during the visit, what follow-up was recommended, and what services need to be billed. Communicating clearly with others on the healthcare team will help build your reputation as a strong member of the team. If you feel this is an area where you need to improve, try Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills.

5. Good at clinical skills

A good medical assistant needs to be good at the clinical skills that are required in the job. These often include measuring vital signs, administering injections, handling EKG testing, drawing blood, preparing lab specimens, cleaning out wounds, and changing wound dressings. These are the types of skills that you will learn during your medical assistant training program. If you are someone who is afraid of blood or needles, don’t give up hope! Many people start out medical assistant school afraid of needles, and after just a little practice, have gotten over their fears. Trying Getting Over Your Fear of Needles for more information on how to beat this fear.

How hard is it to become a medical assistant?

Once you’ve determined that medical assisting school is the right path for you, the next question is, how hard is it? Like any career training program, you will have to work hard in a medical assisting program. But the good news is, no prior experience is necessary. Most programs—like the one at Salter College—require that you have your high school diploma (or equivalent) before enrolling. They will also require that you fill out an application and participate in a short interview process to help make sure that you are ready for a career training program.

Once you enroll and begin classes, your instructors will start the curriculum from “square one.” They know you are a beginner, and they want to help you succeed in your classes. The curriculum will cover such topics as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, medical billing and coding, and a lot of hands-on clinical lab practice. You will be expected to attend all of your classes and labs, complete your homework, participate in class, and pass your exams.

Make sure the program you choose includes an externship experience (often facilitated by the Career Services department). This means that after your classes are over, you will be assigned to a real job site where you will work as an unpaid extern in order to gain real on-the-job experience before you enter the job market. Externships are a great way to boost your experience, knowledge, and confidence as a medical assistant.

Becoming a medical assistant is a career decision that only you can make. But the more you investigate what medical assistants do and reasons why people become medical assistants, the more prepared you will be to make your decision.


This article was provided by Salter College in West Boylston, Massachusetts. Located near Worcester, we offer a Medical Assistant training program as well as programs for massage therapists and health claims specialists (medical billing and coding). Find out more about enrolling by filling out our information form or calling us at (774) 261-1500. Your new career field is just a click or a phone call away.


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