With a boom in the healthcare industry and stricter regulations in place, there is an increasing demand for Medical Assistants (MA) or Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants (MAs) and medical assisting careers are expected to increase by 29% through 2022, an astounding figure indeed!
Who is a Medical Assistant?
These are the professionals who function as a part of the health care delivery team and perform administrative duties like scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, patient billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. They are also required to record medical history of patients and to do a first-hand analysis of the symptoms. Furthermore, they are the ones responsible for conducting blood tests, preparing patients’ medical charts, getting them ready for surgical procedures and to administer dosage for the patients.
America’s best Medical Assistant Programs:
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Fortis Institute can give you the skills you need to train for a career in the healthcare field.
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- AA: Medical Office Assistance
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Schools by State:
To become a certified Medical Assistant, a person can either attend a one-year course that a lot of schools across the United States offer or they can attend a two-year associate’s degree course. Students are trained on medical terminologies, basic math skills, billing procedures and first aid among the most important part of their studies. They are also trained to carry out the administrative duties that would be required of them.
Depending on the course duration, the average price of a class ranges from $1,200 to $4,200 dollars. Training programs usually includes theory classes and an externship; this may alter the program cost. Externship may or may not be provided by the college in which case students are required to arrange for them using their own means. For cost effective programs, students can look up the community colleges that offer the same courses at a much economical fees. However, the quality of education differs and hence students need to take a thoroughly thought step.
The cost of supplies, books and accommodation (for out of city students) also needs to be catered for. An extra $125 or $250 to take up the Certified Medical Assistant examination needs to be considered, depending on whether a person is a recent grad and/or a member of the AAMA.
Owing to the changing scene of the healthcare industry in the U.S, a certification in Medical Assistant field is considered mandatory by almost all the employers. Considering the surge in litigations in the healthcare industry, health care providers rather that the personnel obtain the ”Certified Medical Assistant” credential that is awarded by American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Add to this, the requirement of managed care organizations (MCOs) for certified personnel given the cost limitations imposed by them during mergers and acquisitions with small scale physician practices. The Government itself has also laid down stricter regulations for professionals to be certified via the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Clinical Laboratory Improvements Act (CLIA)
Hence, although not mandatory yet to be a CMA, job options are definitely better for certified personnel as compared to the ones not certified.
After successfully completing their education programs, Medical Assistants can take up the ”Certified Medical Assistant” exam that is conducted thrice a year by American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The certification needs to be renewed every five years.
As already discussed above, Medical Assistants perform clinical as well as administrative tasks. They are required to work a minimum of 40 hours per week and schedules may vary depending on whether the medical offices are open at nights and on weekends. Overtime may be necessary given the operational requirement and availability of staff.
Healthcare industry is a recession-immune one and hence job opportunities can never cease. In fact, there has been a boost in the opportunities over the last few years. Hence, stability and job security are assured. Further, professionals can explore more areas of expertise by choosing careers in nursing and medicine (as a doctor).
If one is keen to learn more and to keep on learning, then this field is definitely a good choice. Also, for people inclined towards making a difference to the society, will find their job profile particularly alluring and enriching.
A vertical growth is somewhat restricted, assured only on obtaining higher education since it would require more advanced skills.
Remuneration of a Medical Assistant
The average salary is benchmarked at $30,000 annually according to a survey conducted by AMA website. Additional perks like medical insurance may be offered by some medical institutions.