Medical Assistant

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants are responsible for keeping the offices of health practitioners, such as physicians, pediatricians and chiropractors, running smoothly and efficiently. They typically perform routine administrative and clerical duties, such as updating and filing patient medical records, handling insurance forms, authorizing prescription refills, and recording patient medical history and vital signs, such as temperature and heart rate. Medical assistants work under the supervision and guidance of the facility’s head physicians, nurses, and other medical staff. Some medical assistants may have specialized duties as well, depending on what type of environment they work in. For example, ophthalmic medical assistants, who work with ophthalmologists, help provide eye care to patients, such as measuring and recording the patient’s vision range, administering eye medications, and instructing patients on how to wear and remove contact lenses. Podiatric medical assistants have specialized duties as well, which include making castings of the patient’s feet and taking x-rays.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Medical Assistant?
Health care is one of the most prosperous and stable fields in the job industry today. This is due to the fact that no matter what the economic climate is or what political issues are being debated, the need for health care professionals remains. The complexity of human health, the inevitability of aging, and the unpredictability of injury and disease all contribute to health care’s longevity. This is true in all aspects of health care, making medical assistance a valuable career. With more patients to handle, physicians in all specialties will need additional medical assistants to help keep the facility running smoothly. Employment opportunities for medical assistants are expected to grow an astounding 34 percent through 2018, which is a much faster rate of growth than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical assistants earn an average salary of $28,300 annually, according to the most current data available from the Bureau. However, many medical assistant salaries vary depending on their experience and education level.

How Can I Become a Medical Assistant?
There are no formal education requirements for medical assistants, although more and more employers are showing preference to those with at least an associate degree in a medical or general science field. An associate degree takes about two years to complete, and students should take courses in biology, chemistry, medical terminology, accounting, and other classes that will help them to build a solid education in medical practices as well as business practices. Medical law, ethics, and first aid techniques are also courses that students should study so that they may be prepared to properly handle patients. Most of the specifics of the trade are taught to medical assistants after they are hired by a health care facility. After completing an associate program, graduates have the option of obtaining certification. Though it is not required, most employers seek medical assistants who are certified because it shows that they are passionate about their occupation.