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Medical Assistant (MA) training can put you on track to take advantage of a variety of rewarding employment opportunities in physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other types of healthcare facilities. Jobs for people with MA training are projected to increase well into the future, offering a growing number of options for a career as a medical assistant.
Why Learn Medical Assisting?
You should learn medical assisting if you enjoy working with people in a challenging, often fast-paced environment. With job prospects expected to increase as the numbers of elderly and chronically ill patients grow, you’ll be qualified to pursue jobs in a variety of settings. Medical assistants can work in places such as physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities.
If you learn medical assisting, you’ll be ready for a career that offers job flexibility and career stability. With medical assistant training, you can pursue positions that specialize in specific patient populations such as children or the elderly. Or, you might want to work in facilities that deliver certain types of care, such as rehabilitation facilities or nursing homes. No matter where you find your passion, the expanding field of healthcare promises an increasing demand for medical assistants.
Medical assistant training can help you quickly get started in the workforce. Some MA training programs offer certificates that can be earned in under a year. Other programs may take two years, but allow you to earn an associate’s degree as well as college credits.
What to Expect from Externships
Medical assistant training programs typically require that you complete an externship. An externship allows you to get practical hands-on experience as a medical assistant in a physician’s office or medical center. Even if you’re studying in an online program, you may need to participate in an externship.
You’re likely to complete an externship toward the end of your MA training. The externship will allow you to apply your knowledge in real-life situations. This opportunity will help you gain confidence in your skills as you assist medical professionals with daily patient care and office routines.
The practical experience you gain in your externship will depend on the type of location in which you work. You may start with job shadowing. Your responsibilities may increase to include patient interaction or administrative duties as you become familiar with routines and procedures.
The externship portion of your MA training can give you the chance to see the types of positions you would like to pursue upon graduation. It also can give you valuable job experience that will make you more attractive to future employers.
What Can I Do with MA Training?
With medical assistant training, you’ll be qualified to perform both clinical and administrative duties. A job as a medical assistant can vary depending on your workplace, so you’ll be cross-trained for wide range of duties during your MA training.
With the increasing demand for people with MA training, it’s likely that you can pursue a position that will allow you to perform the types of duties that you enjoy most. Medical assistant training can qualify you to:
- Measure and record patient vital signs
- Assist physicians during a patient examination
- Administer medications and/or injections under the direction of a physician, depending on state law
- Prepare specimens for laboratory testing
- Update electronic medical records
- Assist with patient billing and insurance
- Explain procedures to patients
- Record patient histories
- Schedule patient appointments
What Classes Will I Take?
Medical assistant training includes coursework on both clinical and administrative aspects of the medical profession. Classes in a typical MA training program include the study of:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Basic clinical procedures
- Specimen collection and preparation
- Computer healthcare applications
- Medical terminology
- Medical billing and insurance
- Patient safety protocols
- Medical laws and ethics
If you’re earning an associate’s degree as part of your medical assistant training, your coursework also will include general liberal arts subjects such as mathematics, English, sociology, psychology, and communication.
At the completion of your medical assistant training, you’re likely to have a wide range of job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Through 2026, jobs for medical assistants are expected to increase by 29 percent. That’s a much higher rate of growth than the projected average for that period.
As the baby boomer population ages, and medical advances allow people to live longer with chronic conditions, the need for healthcare services will continue to grow to accommodate an increasing demand for care. With 634,400 medical assisting jobs in the United States in 2016, your MA training could allow you to qualify for the additional 184,600 positions expected to open up by 2026.
With medical assistant training, you can look forward to being eligible to apply for positions that offer a median annual salary of $31,540, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries varied by workplace. Medical assistants who worked in outpatient care centers and hospitals typically earned a higher salary than those employed in physicians’ offices.
Whether your medical assisting training leads you to a physician’s office or medical center, the field of healthcare is constantly growing and changing. With MA training, you’ll be qualified to assist physicians by performing clinical and/or administrative duties as practices expand and workloads increase to meet a growing need for patient care.