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Pursuing a Medical Assistant Career

Sep 30, 2010

Medical assistants are a very part of the medical team. They can do everything from administrative work to bookkeeping to helping the physician treat patients. Job duties will vary depending on where the medical assistant works. Salaries and future opportunities look bright for people who decide to choose the exciting career of medical assisting. Jobs can be challenging and often stressful especially if the medical assistant decides to work in a hospital setting, but those who choose this career will get a lot of satisfaction from their job.

Educational Requirements

A medical assistant will be required to first have a high school diploma. This will give him or her a solid educational foundation on which to build medical knowledge. Next the medical assistant will attend usually a one-year program at a technical school to learn the skills to become a medical assistant. Medical assistants earn a certificate from this type of program. Potential medical assistants can also go to school at a community college to earn an associate's degree in medical assisting. These types of programs generally take a little longer than technical school programs. Associate's degree programs will take closer to two years. There is little difference in pay depending on which type of degree is obtained.

Job Description

Depending on where the medical assistant is interested in working and what tasks his or her employer wishes the medical assistant to do will depend on what the exact duties of the job are. If a medical assistant chooses to work in a physician's office, he or she might be responsible for answering the phone, filing lab work in charts, greeting patients, bookkeeping, arranging the doctor's schedule, placing patients into exam rooms from the waiting room, taking vital signs, weighing and measuring patients, setting up diagnostic tests that the physician orders, arranging for drug company representatives to speak with the physician and medical staff, making sure the medical staff certifications are all up to date, as well as many other tasks. Medical assistants in the office setting have full, busy days, but so do their counterparts who work in a hospital.

Medical assistants in the hospital setting might be responsible for putting physician orders into a computer system, helping RNs and LPNs do patient care, recording vital signs, checking blood sugars, transporting patients, and even doing patient care. Medical assistant opportunities are also available in other settings such as long-term care.

Is Medical Assisting Right for You?

It is difficult to say if medical assisting is the right job for you until you have worked side by side with a medical assistant to see the extent of their work. You should expect to work hard, have a good grasp of medical terminology, and get along well with not only physicians but nurses and other technicians and assistants. Patient care should be a priority for you while in the workplace, if that is something for which you are responsible. Many medical assistants enjoy interacting with patients and learning about their career in the medical field so much that they decide to return to school to further their education as well as have more job options. Many medical assistants go on to be emergency medical technicians, paramedics, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, or even respiratory therapists.

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