The technical definition for a Medical Assistant is “a person who, under the direction of a physician, performs various routine administrative and nontechnical clinical tasks in a hospital, clinic, or similar facility”.
What does a Medical Assistant Do?
Regardless of the medical dictionaries definition, a Medical Assistants does much more than perform “routine administrative and non-technical clinical tasks”. In school, you’ll learn how to draw blood, take blood pressure, give injections, and perform tests such as EKGs. Also as a Medical Assistant you’ll be able to perform duties such as taking the patients height and weight, obtaining the patient’s medical history, assisting the physicians with certain exams or procedures and so much more.
Some might say that a Medical Assistant isn’t able to do much, referring to nursing skills and duties. It will certainly depend on where and which type of specialty doctor you work for; however, in most cases Medical Assistant can do everything a LVN or RN would do in a normal office setting, except for starting IV’s and IV drug administration. But those duties are typically performed in hospital settings anyway.
Where can Medical Assistants Work?
Medical Assistants usually work in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, home health care, and other healthcare settings. Medical Assistants can often obtain jobs at hospitals; however they will not be able to perform a lot of those duties there nor will they pay you as well. Hospitals want their nurses to be licensed in order to perform any technical duties; it’s all for liability reasons. You can’t blame them though with all the SUE happy people these days. However, some hospitals will often hire Medical Assistants to draw blood after completing their phlebotomy course.
While Medical Assistants perform nursing duties, some Medical Assistants work only administratively and deal more with a patient’s paperwork, such as medical records, insurance forms, answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, etc.
How do I become a Medical Assistant?
To begin in a Medical Assistant program, you will need to have earned your high school diploma or something equivalent such as a GED. Most of the time the Medical Assisting programs are offered at medical training trade schools. Some community colleges offer these programs as well, however they will usually require you to complete courses such as anatomy & physiology and medical terminology before you can be accepted and enrolled in their program.
What is the Pay Rate?
Starting out Medical Assistants their first year of working typically make about $15,000. It may not seem much, but with 1-4 years of experience you can expect to make between $15k-$25k depending on the specialty and success of your employer. More than likely unless you work for a more than generous doctor or clinic you’ll make a max salary of $40,000. Now geographically, some states such as New York, California and Colorado typically pay more, but I think it equals out to be the same since their cost of living is higher.
Whether you want to be a Medical Assistant to get your foot in the door, or you want this to be your career choice; it’s definitely a good choice. If you decide to further your education down the road, then with your previous school training and experience you’re s more likely to get multiple job offers and a higher paid rate starting out!