Everything You Need To Know About Medical Assistant Jobs

Medical assistant jobs are set to grow by approximately 34% in the 2008 – 2018 decade. Medical assistants are sought-after throughout the medical profession. They are filling a vitally important role as the go-between between the patient and the medical professional. The baby-boomers are now reaching pensionable age, and are living longer due to medical breakthroughs and technological advances.

Due to people living longer there is more need for ongoing medical care. This means that more medical personnel are required but there are not enough physicians to go around and even with all the colleges there will never be sufficient graduates to fill the need. A medical assistant job fills the need for an assistant who can take over some of the more mundane and basic tasks and free the physician to do the real medical work.

What Is A Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant is a healthcare professional who makes sure that the needs of the patient are met. Certified medical assistant jobs came about when Physicians realized that they would never be able to get through all their patients and give them the personal attention that they deserve if they had to do everything themselves. A medical assistant does many of the tasks that a doctor used to undertake, such as taking the patient’s medical history, monitoring patients vital signs, taking blood samples, and various administrative tasks regarding the patients.

Those in medical assistant jobs are trained in both clinical and administrative procedures and can work in any healthcare facility. They undergo pharmacology, medical law, health sciences, patient care, laboratory procedures, and various other training which enables them to perform a host of diverse duties.

Who Does Medical Assistant Jobs?

The personal characteristics of medical assistants are very important as a medical assistant job not only requires good training, but also certain characteristics such as good teamwork and flexibility amongst others.

People who are looking to do a medical assistant job should:

  • Be able to listen actively.
  • Speak distinctly so that patients understand what is being told to them.
  • Be perceptive to the actions of patients.
  • Possess excellent writing skills and reading comprehension.
  • Be capable of critical thinking and logical reasoning.
  • Be empathetic towards patients.
  • Be flexible and able to jump form one role to another without any problems.
  • Have good administrative skills and a good telephone manner.
  • Respect the confidential nature of medical information.
  • Have a certain amount of manual dexterity and visual acuity.

Medical assistant jobs are well-suited to those who have an interest in the medical field. Those who have experience as a License Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, or Medical Technologist and those who have medical administrative experience find certified medical assistant jobs enjoyable.

Education & Training For Medical Assistant Jobs

Whilst formal training in any field is preferable, it is not required for a medical assistant job. Medical assistant training can either be done on the job or via a course at a college or online. A certificate or diploma course is usually about 12 months long and an associate degree course will take you two years.

Those who do on-the-job training for a medical assistant job only need a high school diploma or equivalent, although it is recommended that their school subjects include bookkeeping, computers, mathematics, health, office skills and biology.

Individuals who got to college to do a course which will enable them to get certified medical assistant jobs will cover recordkeeping, accounting, keyboarding, insurance processing, transcription, physiology, medical terminology, and anatomy. They will also learn pharmaceutical principles, first aid, clinical and diagnostic procedures, and the administration of medications, pharmaceutical principles and laboratory techniques. On the administrative side they will study medical law and ethics, patient relations and office practices.

How Does One Become A Certified Medical Assistant?

The American Medical Technologists Board is an agency which regulates and awards certification to medical assistants. They also regulate the standards that are required for certification.

In order to become a certified medical assistant one must:

Medical Assistant Jobs

  • Be a recent graduate of either a one-year medical assistant certificate or diploma program, or a two-year medical assistant associate’s degree at an institution which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
  • Have a minimum of 5 years experience in a medical assistant job.
  • Complete an exam which is administered by the American Medical Technologists Board.
  • Those who have passed a generalist medical assistant certification exam from another medical assisting certification body which is approved by the AMT, have been working in a medical assistant job for 3 out of the past 5 years and have met all other AMT requirements need not complete his examination to be certified.

What Types Of Jobs Can Medical Assistants Perform?

Medical Assistants can perform a diverse range of duties and their jobs differ slightly depending on where they work. Although the administrative duties of medical assistants is pretty much the same no matter what type of healthcare facility they work in, the clinical side of things can be quite different.

Once qualified one can choose to apply for a medical assistant job at any of the following businesses:

  • Clinics
  • Emergency Service Organisations
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance Providers
  • Medical Offices
  • Medical Supply Businesses
  • Nursing Homes
  • Outpatient Surgical Centers
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Rehab Clinics
  • Specialty Offices (e.g. Podiatry, Chiropractic, Ophthalmology)
  • Urgent Care Centers

The above are just some of the various healthcare institutions which require the services of medical assistants. Most schools have an understanding with various employers and will be able to recommend you to some once you have qualified. Some graduates choose to work more on the administrative side of medical assistant jobs and others prefer to specialize in a certain field such cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology or anaesthetics.

Spread Of Certified Medical Assistant Jobs In The US According To The U.S. Department Of Labor

Institution %
Doctor’s Offices 60%
Public and/or Private Hospitals 14%
Offices of Health Care Practitioners (Podiatrists, Optometrists, Dentists, etc.) 11%
Outpatient Care Facilities, Local Government Agencies, Laboratories, Nursing Care Centers, and Educational Services. 15%


As you can see, there are medical assistant jobs in many fields and a wide variety of institutions, and it is up to you to decide where you would prefer to work.

Medical Assistant Job Description

Certified medical assistant jobs attract people who love helping others and have an interest in one or other medical field. Because the program is a relatively short one and is a very affordable program, it attracts both men and women. A medical assistant job entails working closely with doctors and patients and sometimes a team of healthcare professionals.

The medical assistant duties will depend largely on the type of and size of office in which they work. In a larger institution where there is a team of healthcare workers the work could be more specialized, either on the administrative side or on the clinical side. In a smaller business, such as a physiotherapist’s office or a dentist’s office there would probably be quite a mix of administrative and clinical duties.

A medical assistant job for an optometrist would probably also include the sales side of the business, as in helping patients choose the best frames, selling sunglasses and contact lenses as well as other eye-care paraphernalia such as contact lens cleaners, spectacles cases etc.

Certified medical assistant jobs can be very rewarding and consist of various administrative and clinical tasks:

Administrative Duties

  • Managing the front desk and reception area and managing the telephones.
  • Scheduling appointments for patients.
  • Keeping the waiting area and examination rooms neat and clean.
  • Disposal of contaminated supplies.
  • Controlling inventory in conjunction with the doctor.
  • Taking down medical histories from patients.
  • Updating and filing of patient medical records.
  • Medical billing and claims and insurance requirements.
  • Keeping track of the business accounts and some basic bookkeeping.
  • Phone in repeat prescriptions on instruction of the physician.

Clinical Duties

  • Taking patient’s vital signs.
  • Assisting in the general assessment of a patient’s medical condition.
  • Taking care of operative and medical equipment.
  • Preparing medical rooms and equipment for use.
  • Explaining treatment procedures to the patients and assuring them that all will go well with their procedures.
  • Preparing, positioning and draping patients for examinations.
  • Assisting the physician in whatever procedures they deem suitable.
  • Taking a patient’s blood pressure, performing an electrocardiogram on a patient, removing sutures and various other medical procedures.
  • Laboratory work.
  • You may also be required by the doctor to prepare and administer medications.
  • You will be required to sterilize and wrap medical instruments.
  • Drawing blood, and taking throat and wound swabs for cultures.

All of these tasks mean that one needs to be proficient on a computer, although each business will teach you their own system. You will be taught most of the skills required for a medical assistant job on whichever training program you decide to take.

Medical Assistant Job Prospects

Certified medical assistant jobs are plentiful and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistant jobs are set to grow exponentially in the forthcoming years. Due to people living longer and the surge of physicians opening practices, the need for medical assistants will grow by approximately 34% in the next five or so years.

In 2008 there were approximately 483,600 medical assistant jobs, and the projection is that this will grow to 647,500 by the year 2018. The figure may be even higher than that by that stage as more and more medical discoveries and technological advances are made every year.

Medical assistant jobs are available in a variety of institutions such as hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics, nursing homes, emergency care centers, outpatient departments and home health agencies. There are also positions available in training facilities for medical assistants with many years of experience.

Medical Assistant Salary

Salaries for certified medical assistant jobs differ greatly depending on the geographic location and the type of business. According to the BLS report, salaries for medical assistant jobs in the same field in various states can range between $27,370 and $32,760.

The industry in which a medical assistant works also influences the salary of the medical assistant job significantly. This is so because of the different tasks that are embodied in the various disciplines, and annual salaries can range from $34,080 to $39,220.

Although some feel that the medical assistant salary rate could be higher, there are other factors which should be taken into consideration such as job security, medical aid, pension, bonuses and overtime pay. With so many people living to a riper old age and the use of preventative medicine being more popular there should be no problem with job security.

Certification – Is It Necessary?

Getting certified is not a requirement for medical assistant jobs, either by law or employers, although some employers may require you to be certified. There are two forms of certification, Certified Medical Assistant, which is awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants and Registered Medical Assistant which is awarded by the American Registry of Medical Assistants.

CMA Certification

  • Can be done directly after graduation.
  • Certification is done via an exam.
  • In order to take the CMA exam you must attend a medical assistant program which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

RMA Certification

  • No further examination is required for registration.
  • Registration can only be done once you have been working as a medical assistant for 5 years.

Both RMA and CMA are nationally recognized certifications, and although registration and certification is not required, there are definite advantages of getting certified as a medical assistant. Certification will definitely increase your employability as it gives credence to your qualification. Going to the trouble of getting certified when it is not legally required shows dedication and commitment, which are both qualities that are called for in medical assistant jobs. Employers will definitely choose a medical assistant who is certified over one who is not, as the medical assistant certification is a guarantee that the person graduated from an accredited school which means they received top class training.

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