Medical Assistant Career: Salary Info and Career Guide

Overview

A medical assistant (MA) is a highly knowledgeable healthcare professional responsible for many different clinical and administrative duties associated with a medical office. In effect, they serve as a link between patients and doctors while providing necessary services to ensure patient care, comfort, and confidentiality. If you enjoy helping others, continue reading this career guide to learn how you can enter this exciting and rewarding career.

Medical assistants are caretakers who perform a variety of tasks in a medical setting. They educate patients about certain procedures and treatments to help the patient relax and address any questions or concerns the patient might have. For this reason, they must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They also frequently perform more than one duty at a time, making it imperative that they are good multi-taskers in order to succeed.

Job Duties

While most medical assistants work in small offices, they can be found in many different settings, including clinics, hospitals, and laboratories. The range and type of duties required varies depending on the size and needs of the facility, but all medical assistants share some basic responsibilities no matter where they work. Most of them handle administrative and clerical duties like maintaining and updating patient records and scheduling patient appointments. Depending on specialization, they might take inventory of and order new medical and office supplies, fill out insurance forms, and code patient charts. Clinical assistants work under a doctor’s supervision and have such responsibilities as sterilizing equipment and instruments, performing examinations on patients, removing stitches, ensuring that medical waste is properly disposed, running basic laboratory tests, preparing patients for x-rays, drawing blood, and educating patients about any necessary medication or diet changes needed.

Salary and Job Outlook

Medical assistants are needed practically anywhere healthcare duties are performed, from private doctors’ offices and clinics to hospitals and nursing homes. There is an ever-increasing demand for medical assistants working side by side with doctors, radiologists, pharmacists, and related medical personnel. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by 31 percent through the decade from 2010 to 2020. As also reported by the BLS, the national average salary for a medical assistant is $28,860, with the top specialists earning as much as $40,190.

Education Requirements

While not required in every state, some employers place special emphasis on certification. If you want to stand out from other applicants, you’ll want to attain a license to prove your knowledge and ability in the field. There are also no formal education requirements, but you can improve your chances at finding employment in top positions by completing a medical assisting degree program. You can then attain on the job experience through an internship or work study program while completing your studies, or you can be trained on the job itself after being hired.

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