Registered Medical Assistant Overview
Registered medical assistants (RMAs) make the every day care taking of patients easy and efficient. They are responsible for clinical, administrative and clerical duties to ensure that physicians are supported and patients are comfortable. Whether they are in the front office or in exam rooms, registered medical assistants are integral to medical facilities and patient care outcomes. Becoming professionally certified as a registered medical assistant is a great way to increase job eligibility and earn higher pay.
What Does a Registered Medical Assistant Do?
Registered medical assistant duties can depend on the size, specialty and patient care goals of the medical facility. A typical day for many registered medical assistants includes both administrative and clinical tasks. Becoming a registered medical assistant will give you the opportunity to be educated in all of the necessary skills, from medical practices to understanding our health insurance system. Some of those common duties may include:
- Prepare patients for treatment and exams
- Assist physicians during patient visits
- Obtain medical information such as vital signs, weight and height
- Collect blood samples
- Perform basic laboratory tests
- Take electrocardiograms
- Prepare and administer medications or injections as directed by a physician
- Schedule appointments
- Answer phones
- Update electronic health records with patient medical history, vital statistics and test results
- Manage medical billing and coding needs
- Fill out insurance forms
- Handle patient correspondence
- Perform bookkeeping and accounting tasks
- Use administrative medical software
Skills and Qualities Needed
The ideal registered medical assistant is cross-trained to handle both office and patient care tasks. Because of the varied nature of expected job duties, those who are problem solvers and clear communicators will thrive in this position. Having a caring attitude and ability to remain cool under pressure are also key aspects of the job.
You’ll be working directly with patients and physicians, so it’s important to be clear, precise and observant. Physicians will rely on you to understand medical terminology and discuss sensitive patient information. Because many of the patients you’ll work with will be sick, you will need to be sensitive to their needs and work well in tense situations.
Much of the job of a medical assistant includes handling patient information, such as medical records and billing. Successful medical assistants are detail-oriented and precise in their listening skills and office duties. Understanding medical diagnoses is also key, as you’ll have to document them on medical charts when working with the physician.
Medical assistants are required to work with computer software and medical instruments. Becoming a registered medical assistant will give you the opportunity to learn how to use the equipment necessary for the job.
Registered Medical Assistant Education and Training
Employers strongly favor medical assistants who are certified.
In order to become registered as a medical assistant, you’ll need to apply through the American Medical Technologists (AMT) to sit for their national certification exam. The AMT is recognized nationally and internationally, allowing you to take your certification anywhere. If you’re considering entering the profession, there are several routes that can make you eligible for the registered medical assistant exam.
Route 1 – Education
In order to sit for the RMA exam, you’ll need to be a graduate of an accredited medical assisting certificate or degree program. Applicants must have graduated within the last four years.
Route 2 – Military
Applicants who have graduated from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces are eligible to take the RMA exam.
Those who’ve studied through the Armed Forces who have completed their program more than four years ago must provide evidence of relevant work experience for at least 3 of the past 5 years.
Medical Assistant Job Outlook and Salary
With the rise in demand of medical care for the general population, medical assistant positions are growing at a rapid rate. Furthermore, the number of people with health insurance is continuing to increase, so there is a larger need for medical professionals to facilitate patient care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth for medical assistant employment is estimated to be 29 percent through at least 2026.
Median wages for full-time medical assistant roles rest at $31,540, according to the BLS. Top industries average pay include:
- Outpatient care centers: $33,560
- Hospitals—state, local and private: $32,620
- Physicians’ offices: $31,710
- Offices of chiropractors: $27,980
Where You Can Work
The more education and training you receive, the more options you’ll have for job opportunities. There are several medical facilities open to registered medical assistants, though each will require specific skills:
- Physicians’ offices
- Dentists’ offices
- Healthcare clinics
- Insurance companies
- Home health agencies
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