Medical assistants perform a wide array of administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of healthcare professionals. Medical assistants are expected to take patient history and check vital signs, administer medications as supervised by physicians, schedule medical appointments, assist physician in performing examinations and prepare specimens for laboratory tests.
With the advent of modern technology, the use of electronic health records (HER), the medical assistant’s job is taken into a new level. Since an increasing number of physicians are moving their client’s database online, medical assistants need to know how to work on these electronic records. Since medical assistants have direct access to patient records, they should keep the clients’ information confidential.
Most of medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, while other work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay of medical assistants in May 2010 was $28,860. The top 10 percent medical assistant earners can earn up to $40,190. Most medical assistants work full-time.
The demand for medical assistants is expected to increase by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020. With the shift of healthcare to outpatient services, more physicians are opening their own clinics and are in need of more medical assistants.
Becoming a medical assistant does not require a formal education. However, employers prefer those who graduate on a diploma or associate degree program that can be obtained from community colleges, technical schools, vocational schools and universities. Some schools even allow distance learning options for these programs.
There are four types of certification that can be acquired by medical assistants, these are: Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from the American Medical Technologists, National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association.
Here are a few of the top schools for students looking to become medical assistants:
Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College offers a Medical Assisting diploma program that can be completed within three semesters (1 year). However, students are also given the choice to study part-time wherein they can complete the program within two years. Students undergo externships every semester to gain more experience in practicing as a medical assistant. This program is offered in their Medical Center Campus while the clinical sites are throughout the Dade County.
Penn Foster Career School
Penn Foster Career School offers an associate degree program in Medical Assisting. The said program is accredited by the Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and graduate of this program are eligible to take the RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) and CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) examinations. This program can be offered online.
Mountain State University
Mountain State University offers an A.S. program in Medical Assisting with 66 credits. This program is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and graduates are eligible to complete the Medical Assisting Certification Exam. MSU ranks number 5 in The Best Colleges’ Top 10 Ranked Online Medical Assistants Schools for 2013 and number 4 in The Best Medical Assistant Programs in West Virginia by graduate-school.phds.org.
Herzing University offers a 48 credit diploma program that can be completed within twelve to twenty months and a 65 credit associate program. The programs can be offered through online classes. These programs are accredited by the accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants
St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants offer learning programs that are affordable and can be done completely online. The certificate program offered in St. Augustine is accredited by the National accreditation and certification board.