No college necessary for becoming a medical assistant
If there’s one career field where you know you’re making a difference in the world, it’s the field of healthcare. Healthcare workers help patients receive the care they need to get healthy and stay healthy. Working in healthcare doesn’t mean you have to become a doctor or a nurse. There are dozens and dozens of different career paths within the field of healthcare—many of which don’t require a college degree. This article looks at what it means to become a Medical Assistant.
What is a medical assistant?
A medical assistant is a healthcare professional who works alongside doctors to provide a variety of clinical and administrative duties. These might include taking patient histories, measuring vital signs, preparing patients for their exams, helping the physician with minor procedures, preparing lab specimens, changing wound dressings, and other tasks as needed. Some medical assistants specialize in office tasks, and are responsible for scheduling appointments, updating patient records, handling billing procedures, and arranging for lab services.
Becoming a medical assistant
The good news is, you don’t need a college degree to become a medical assistant. Many medical assistant training programs can be completed in about one year’s time—making it a good alternative for people who choose not to go to college. Salter College in West Boylston, Massachusetts offers a Medical Assistant certificate program that prepares students with the skills and knowledge they need to be prepared for entry level work as a medical assistant. Here are some of the things you will study in a training program:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- How to measure vital signs
- How to draw blood and administer injections
- Patient confidentiality
- First Aid
- Office procedures
- Office administration
Advantages of choosing this field
When you are in the position of choosing a career path, there are many things to consider. You will want to think about the job market, work-life balance, and salary expectations. Medical assistants tend to enjoy a number of these benefits. First, the job market is predicted to be strong for medical assistants. The Occupational Outlook Handbook says, “Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.” This positive outlook is one reason that people are choosing this field.
Second, the job of a medical assistant usually allows for a good work-life balance. Unlike some medical jobs, where the hours are incredibly intense and demanding, most medical assistants work regular hours that allow them to enjoy a fulfilling home life too. Medical assistants who work in doctors’ offices tend to have regular daytime hours, while medical assistants who work in a hospital environment may have less predictable hours, depending on the shift assignments.
And third, you are probably wondering: How much do medical assistants make? The salaries/wages for medical assistants will vary depending on where you work. The American Association of Medical Assistants did a survey about the earnings and benefits of medical assistants, which can help you get an idea of the kind of earnings you can expect to make in this field. The AAMA survey found that most medical assisting jobs (roughly 95% of the people they surveyed) are full-time positions where the employer offers some sort of benefit package. More than 84% of respondents said they received paid vacation, and more than 74% said they received major medical insurance coverage.
Where medical assistants work
Medical assistants are trained to work in a large variety of healthcare settings, such as doctors’ offices, specialist practices (like pediatrics, dermatology, cardiology, etc.), urgent care centers, long term care facilities, hospitals, outpatient centers, and other medical facilities. In all of these places, medical assistants play an important role in keeping the schedule moving, assisting physicians with tasks, and helping patients get the care they need.
Depending on where you get your training, you may have the opportunity to go out on an internship or externship with a local healthcare facility. This is a great chance to “get your feet wet” and see what kind of facility you would like to work in when you enter the job market. When you are looking for medical assistant schools, be sure to ask the admissions representative if the program includes an externship placement.
Best traits for medical assistants to have
If you are interested in this career field, you might be wondering if you’ve got what it takes to succeed on the job. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, some of the most important traits for medical assistants to have are:
- Attention to detail: You want to be strong at details, so that you can record patient information accurately and complete tasks according to your instructions.
- Communication/interpersonal skills: Good communication is key in any healthcare setting. This includes communicating clearly with patients, co-workers, and physicians. You are dealing with important medical information, so it’s important that everyone is clear on what the patient needs.
- Analytical skills: Medical assistants need to understand patients’ medical charts, electronic health record systems (EHRs), doctors’ instructions, insurance procedures, and clinical procedures. Having strong analytical skills will help you with these important aspects of the job.
- Technical skills: Technical skills are important for the job, and your medical assistant training will provide you with plenty of practice to develop these skills. You will learn everything from changing a bandage to drawing a blood sample!
How to enroll
One of the great things about getting trained in this field is that you don’t need any prior experience. Most programs, like the one at Salter College, only require that you have your high school diploma (or equivalent, like a GED). When you apply to Salter College, you will need to fill out paperwork and come to an interview with our admissions representative. You can also meet with one of our financial aid advisors to help you navigate your options. They will help you understand the process of filing your FAFSA form to get you started on the pathway to your new education.
For more information on becoming a medical assistant, try these articles:
This could be the start of something big in your life! For residents near our West Boylston, Massachusetts campus, take the first step now and complete our simple online form. We hope your new career path starts with us.