Medical Assistants are professionals who perform clinical and administrative tasks in the different healthcare facilities, such as clinics, hospitals, and offices of physicians. Their typical duties involve recording patient history, measuring vital signs, assisting physicians with patient examinations, preparing blood samples for tests, scheduling appointments and administering medication as directed by physicians.
If you are interested in this branch of healthcare, the following guide on how to become a medical assistant would be of interest to you.
How to Become a Medical Assistant?
The process to become a medical assistant is substantially easier than becoming a medical doctor. The following steps list down the process in an easy to follow guide:
Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or a GED
This is the minimum level of education required to enter this field of medicine.
Step 2: Complete a Postsecondary Education Program
Even though there is no formal education requirement to become a medical assistant in most states, most employers would prefer to hire candidates with some credentials and training. Programs for medical assistants can be found in community colleges, vocational schools, universities and technical schools. These programs typically take 1 year to complete and usually lead to a certificate or a diploma. All programs for medical assistants have both theoretical and practical components and teach students about anatomy and medical terminologies.
Step 3: Complete On-the-Job Training
This is specifically applicable to candidates who have not completed a medical assistant program from a community college or a vocational institute.
Is Becoming a Medical Assistant Easier Than Other Medical Professions?
Becoming a medical assistant is considered to be relatively easy, as compared to other medical professions such as physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists and gynecologists etc. This is mainly because of lesser educational and certification requirements.
The barriers to entry for medical assistants are far less than other medical professions. For instance, to become a physician or a surgeon, you need at least a bachelor’s degree, followed by a 4-year long medical degree and a 4-year long residency program. To get into a medical school, you will have to clear the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) as well. And after you have completed your education, you will have to clear a licensing exam, the US Medical Licensing Examination.
To become a medical assistant, you do not have to pass through these steps and spend this many years on your education, training and licensing. Therefore, it can be deduced that becoming a medical assistant is relatively easier than joining other medical professions.
How Much Can I Make as a Medical Assistant?
Medical Assistants earned $33,610 in 2018 as annual median income, which translates to around $16.16 per hour. The top paying industry was outpatient care centers, with an annual median income of $35,600. The top paying states for medical assistants were Alaska, paying $45,490 in annual mean wages, followed by the District of Columbia ($42,010), Washington ($41,340), Minnesota ($40,320) and Massachusetts ($40,270). These figures have been taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Outlook for Medical Assistants
If you are planning to become a medical assistant, you would be glad to know that the field is expected to experience incredible growth in the coming years. As per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate for medical assistants in the years between 2018 and 2028 is 23%, which is much higher than the average growth for all occupations. This high growth rate will result in an addition of 154,900 new jobs between 2018 and 2028.
The high growth rate for medical assistants can be associated with the fast aging baby boom population, which will continue to increase the demand for preventive medical services across the country. As a result of this increase in the need for timely medical attention, physicians are likely to hire more assistants, creating new jobs for medical assistants across the board.
In addition to that, an increasing number of clinics, healthcare facilities and group practices will also drive up the demand for medical assistants to complete both clinical and administrative tasks. Even though medical assistants are expected to have good job prospects, it must be noted that those who earn a certification and are familiar with electronic health records (EHRs) are likely to have better job opportunities.