Medical Assisting

The Vital Support Needed

medical assistantThe medical field is on the move and growing fast. As our population ages and health reforms change the way services are offered, more and more trained medical assistants are needed. Whether it’s the medical assistant trained to handle new ways of documenting health care records, or the need for more medical assistants supporting doctors in free clinics or health provider services, the field of medical assistants is booming.

To see how this field developed, check out the history of medical support on the graph, but as a quick snapshot, way back in the ’50s, the American Medical Association (AMA) was founded. At the same time and continuing through the decade, certification standards for all medical assistants and support teams were established. The field of medical assisting and support offers tons of opportunities for compassionate, strong, and caring people.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

A medical assistant supports the work of doctors and health care providers by assisting on the patient or the administrative side. Let’s start with the patient side. Check the graphic to see everything they do, but in general, medical assistants measure a patient’s vital signs, administer medication and injections, prep and take care of all instruments (like the blood pressure things we all have done during a normal exam), and even collect and handle various specimens for lab testing.

On the administrative side, a medical assistant takes care of data entry such as plugging in medical records info, handling all the clerical work related to patients, or the doctor or health care provider that the medical assistant works for.

Both areas have career paths leading upwards…check it out.

Experience and Career Paths

Click on the big pie chart. That’s where you can see what the field looks like in terms of experienced medical assistants. Why should you care? Well, look again. Considering this is a high growth career, you can see that 49% of medical assistants have only been on the job 1-4 years. That means that you wouldn’t be entering a field where it’ll take you forever to advance. Good news, right?

When you check on the medical assistant starting points (down at the bottom of the graphic), you’ll see the career paths and salaries, but in general, a person just starting out in this field might make a salary starting at $9.50 an hour while steadily moving upwards to $20.00 an hour depending on the employer. More on that in a minute, but see the blue graphic at the bottom? That’ll show you exactly what the paths look like.

Non-Profit or Private Sector Factor

Salaries for a medical assistant could be lower in the non-profit sector. Look at the bottom of the chart and notice Planned Parenthood or Family Clinic. These non-profits say a medical assistant can expect to start out making $10-16.50 an hour. Now look at Internal Medicine Associates (that means a doctor’s office or private practice). See the jump in starting salary? It goes up to almost $20.00 an hour. So what does that show you: Where a medical assistant works, more than the route chosen (patient-side or admin- side), is the determining factor in how much money a medical assistant makes.

Get Going on Certification

To be a medical assistant you need to be certified. The Certified Medical Assistant certification used to be called CMA, but in 2008, it was changed to AAMA. Sounds confusing, but it’s not. There are 450 learning and certification resources nationwide, and all are there to help the medical assistant become certified and stay certified through continuing education programs. The other good thing is that this certification is like a foundation. Certified MAs can move into the nursing field, or if administration is their strength, they can even managing a health care provider (doctor, clinic, hospital) office. The options are plentiful, so check out all the stats on the graphic to find out more!

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