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Medical Assistant Schools
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whatsoever and should not be relied on in that manner. See our full Terms of Use here. We recommend that those who utilize our website will do their own research to familiarize
themselves with the medical assistant's educational requirements, employer's expectations, legal concerns and typical pay rates in their own area.
medical assistant career
The medical assistant is a fully integrated, non-licensed member of the medical office team with duties that are
distinct from the practice of medicine and nursing. Medical assistants work side-by-side with doctors, clinicians
and other allied health professionals in various supporting positions essential to the medical office's function.
The nature of this job requires direct supervision by a doctor and revolves around typical medical office routines
ranging from clinical, to administrative and managerial responsibilities. Basic knowledge of medical terminology,
human anatomy and physical contact and interaction with the general public is essential. The best suited
candidate for this position is someone who is mobile, flexible, highly motivated and able to multitask in many
areas within the medical practice. While undoubtedly, nursing staff is always a great asset to a medical office,
there are now at least 1-2 medical assistants for each doctor on a modern medical office team, one in the front
office reception and administrative area and another one in the back office clinical areas, assisting the doctor
and patients.
TRAINING
Comprehensive training is readily available for medical assistant students either directly on the job, or through
vocational training institutions, college, or military training. These job training programs consist of theoretic and
practical instruction and cover a wide range of clinical and administrative skills as it applies to a medical office
setting. They usually end with a practicum at an approved externship site and graduates may sit for a certification
exam to demonstrate their knowledge. Vocational training institutions and organized membership associations
such as AAMA and AMT have established their own standards for their members and student body.
EMPLOYMENT
An increasing number of doctors are replacing their Licensed Practical
Nurses (LPN) with skilled medical assistants. They have discovered
that a well trained medical assistant is sufficiently qualified to meet
their needs. Medical assistants are employed in a wide range of
disciplines and held about 527,600 jobs within the health care system
in 2010. The projected employment rate for 2020 is 690,400 medical
assistants working in ambulatory medical practices, preventive care
clinics, therapy and rehabilitation centers, vision care and optical
stores, laboratories, pharmacies, alternative medical service centers,
veterinary clinics, college campuses, mental health and corrections
institutions and various other facilities where ambulatory health and
medical services are provided.
EXPECTATIONS
Employers expect dependability, strong organizational skills and fundamental decision-making skills.
Candidates must be in good health and physically fit to remain on their feet for several hourswithout a break,
possess good hand and eye coordination and near excellent vision to be able to see details at close range such
as calibration markings on a syringe, small print on medication labels, skin changes and blood vessels to draw
blood. Knowledge of computers, medical equipment and devices is a must and proficiency in patient care,
customer service, appointment scheduling, word processing, data entry and retrieval of demographic and
insurance information is a huge plus; after all, doctors want someone who understands their specialty and will
help them turn their practice into a successful business.
FOR EXAMPLE
If would like to work for a dermatologist it may be expected that you:
• understand the anatomy and pathology of the integumentary system
• are familiar with routine diagnostic tests and treatments for skin disorders
• are able to assist the doctor during routine and special examinations of the skin
• are able to explain the diagnosis and plan of care in simple terms to the patients
• can apply prescribed treatments, such as ointmentsand dressings as instructed
• are familiar with common medical billing codes, eg. ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM, CPT®
EARNINGS
Medical assistants are paid by the hour*. Their take home pay can differ greatly from state to state and by
location. The employer decides how much he or she is willing pay for a certain position and certain specialties
pay more. Advancement opportunities abound for those who have solidified their knowledge through hands-on
job experience and career focused workshops, seminars, continuing education courses (CEU) and specialty
certifications.
*It must be clearly understood that the medical assistant is NEVER a salaried professional, so when you review
statistics titled medical assistant salary figures, the word salary is a misnomer.
REMEMBER: Medical assistants, regardless how experienced or seasoned in their field, cannot act without a
doctor physically present when providing direct patient care. Direct patient care are such skills as administering
medical treatments, injections, ear lavage, suture removal, or a cardiac stress test. Even more so, they never
independently refill prescriptions, even if they were refilled before, give any kind of medical advice, not even a
well intended suggestion that could be (mis-) interpreted as medical advice and never share confidential patient
information with other parties unless a valid need to know exists. Medical assistants, even when working in a
volunteer position, must always adhere to their job description and applicable state and federal laws. The
consequences of overstepping occupation's limits can be serious. Check out our Scope of Practice link in the
navigation panel on the right side of the screen.
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