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How to Become a Medical Assistant

A medical assistant profile allows you to enjoy the desire to help people, yet not completely be involved in the depth of the medical process.
Puja Lalwani
With the expansion of the health industry, medical jobsĀ are not just limited to those of doctors and nurses. More jobs are coming under the medical profession, and that of a medical assistant is one of them.
A medical assistant is an assistant to doctors and nurses, and usually take up jobs at hospitals and clinics. If you have good people skills, and the desire to help, you can opt for this profession and not only attain job satisfaction, but a successful career in the medical field.

Job Description

The job description of a medical assistant includes assisting doctors and nurses in the workplace. As a certified medical assistant, you may perform clerical, administrative, or clinical duties.
  • You will be expected to handle the front office, that will include receiving calls and transferring them, arranging appointments as per the doctor's schedule, obtaining a patient's information including medical history, and performing jobs that entail data entry.
  • You will be have to maintain medical records of patients, perform jobs related to accounting that not only include those of patient's transactions, but also the purchase and maintenance of equipment for the infrastructure. You will handle issues pertaining to the medical insurance of a patient and understand its overview, and process bills thereafter.
  • In the clinical aspect of becoming a medical assistant, you may be required to perform certain jobs that include checking for normal vital signs, changing dressings, drawing blood, collecting urine samples for testing, working in the lab, collecting information on the progress of a patient and reporting it to the doctor, and maintaining this information.
You may have to work long hours at a stretch, and the job is as taxing as any other medical job. You must have excellent communication skills to deal with patients, as well as be patient enough to understand their requirements.

Educational Requirements

To become a medical assistant, you need a certification in the field. Though many professionals work without any formal education in this area, having the required educational qualification will be beneficial. In school, subjects like biology, math, bookkeeping, health, computers and training in office skills will form a good base for your formal education.

How long does it take to become a medical assistant?

To complete the aforementioned requirements, you may opt for either a one year certificate in the course, or go for an associate's degree from an accredited school. In your course, you will learn about all the aspects mentioned earlier that are part of the job.
It is only after you complete the course that you will have to take the certified medical assistant exam, offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. This will provide you more job opportunities. If you opt for certification, you will be required to renew it every five years.

How much does it cost to become a medical assistant?

The cost to complete the education for this field will differ depending on the school you choose to study in. On an average, a one year certificate will cost anywhere between USD 1,200 and USD 15,000. Similar is the case with an associate's degree, per year.
You will be required to pay an additional charge for the certification exam, that varies for members and non-members of the American Association of Medical Assistants. The cost may range around USD 125 to USD 250. You may be able to attain a scholarship that will help you deal with the costs pertaining to the education of this profession.
After you have completed the educational requirements, you will be required to complete an internship to train for your job, and volunteering informally in the field of health care will help you greatly in gaining your much required experience.
The salary for certified professionals ranges from anywhere between USD 22,000 to USD 44,000 per year. Along with this, you may be offered several other perks and benefits.
Keep in mind that this is one of those hospital jobs, where unless you don't study further and improve your skills and knowledge base, you will not experience much growth in the field. If you are sure about pursuing this field, go ahead and get the job that is both financially and professionally rewarding.