As members of the federated health occupation, medical assistants perform administrative and clinical work to support physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists and other health practitioners. They have a salary of $33,668 per year on average.
Medical assistants perform routine clinical and administrative works under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Their duties include filing medical records, scheduling appointments, arranging hospital admission, handling billings, administering medications and injections, etc.
If they work with a dental hygienist, they keep the patients informed about diets and nutrition as recommended by the hygienist. Generally, it is expected that a medical assistant would help in drawing blood for tests, take electrocardiograms, change dressings, perform X-ray tests and also communicate in between the patient and the physician or a healthcare professional who they work under.
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What do Medical Assistants do?
Medical assistants cooperate with medical professionals to take responsibility for several clinical and administrative tasks. In their professional practice, medical assistants are expected to:
- Keep Records of patient personal information and details;
- Measure vital signs of blood pressure, sugar level, etc;
- Give injection to patients as directed by physicians;
- Help physicians in examination and surgery processes;
- Prepare samples for laboratory tests;
- Handle administrative duties including receiving calls and managing appointments.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
One does not need a bachelor degree or higher studies to become a medical assistant. With post-secondary education, or high school diploma and related training, you are set to become a medical assistant.
However, one needs to take courses like biology, chemistry, and anatomy in their high school to get into the field of medical assistant. Several medical programs are run by community colleges, universities, technical and vocational schools. These programs provide education for a year long so as to help interested students become medical assistants.
The training and programs will lead to a certificate level or diploma. However, in most states in the USA, there are no requirements of having a formal education to become a medical assistant. Nevertheless, one would be required to go through a suitable program, take related exams and be able to perform simple tasks as required to be done.
A medical assistant should also have some qualities that include analytical skills. It is believed that this will make it possible for them to understand the prescriptions and medical charts for diagnosis. More to that, they will be detail oriented to be able to rely on correct records. Interpersonal skills are also important as it will help them co-operate with the patients. Above all, they must have adequate technical skills to be able to use clinical instruments and perform measurements of vital body signs.
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Meanwhile, there are different types of medical assistants and, they are grouped according to the performance they carry alongside a physical or a healthcare professional. They include:
- Administrative medical assistants, who carry out office work like keeping records, answering telephones, etc
- Clinical medical assistants, who perform laboratory tests, handle medical instruments and perform simple medical tasks like removing stitches, dressings etc.
- Ophthalmic medical assistants and optometric assistants, who help optometrists and ophthalmologists on guiding patients regarding their eye care by teaching them how to use contact lenses, and assists the professionals in surgery.
- Podiatric medical assistants, who work on making the casting of feet, taking X-rays, etc.
Best Medical Assistant Certification And Schools
There are many health-related organizations that certify medical assistants. The first to do so was the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) in the USA in 1956 which requires interested candidates to take the CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) exams.
Some of the best medical assistant schools that provide certification and accreditation are-
- Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College – offers 33 credits in several clinical and general education courses
- Bryant & Stratton College – offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in medical assisting through a two years program that also includes the study of liberal arts
- Kaplan College – provides diploma in medical assisting that can be completed in a year
- Globe University – offers a 21 months program to earn an AAS in medical assisting
Medical Assistant Salary
How much do medical assistants make? The median annual wage for medical assistants is $33,668 as of 2017. The lowest 10 percent earning medical assistants make less than $31,037 on average while the highest-earning 10 percent medical assistants average more than $36,356 per annum.
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The salary for medical assistants could differ by country and location as well. In general, a medical assistant has a salary of $16 per hour with a range usually between $15 – $17. The highest paying state in the USA is California where medical assistants make around $34,000 a year.