How to Become a Medical Assistant

by on September 23rd, 2014
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With a declining economy, a secondary education is becoming more and more desirable. There are many careers that you can gain in two years or less. If you’re thinking about becoming a medical assistant, here’s some advice from one.

There are many aspects to choosing a career. Choosing a career will be one of the most important decisions of your life. Education is by no means cheap, but there are many great careers with less education, and therefore, less tuition. Medical assisting may be an option for you.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

Medical assisting can serve as a great starter point for a healthcare career. You will learn administrative skills: scheduling, taking phone calls, and triaging. You also learn clinical procedures:vitals, EKGs, phlebotomy, immunizations, CPR/First Aid, among others.

HIPAA, OSHA, anatomy and physiology, and law and ethics, as well as pharmacology will also be studied. You may use only a few of these skills or all of them, depending on who hires you. No matter who hires you, however, anatomy and physiology, law and ethics, HIPAA, and OSHA should be respected at all times.

SALARY

I pushed myself through school, convinced that my degree would completely change my life. Unfortunately, it didn’t change my life quite as much as I hoped. Beginning salaries are at $9 an hour, but if you’re lucky, you can make more. Family practices tend to pay less while specialists tend to pay a bit more. But I must be honest here- getting paid $9-$10 an hour is a bit low-considering tuition that must be paid along with all your other bills. Plus, an MA has a lot of responsibilities, but the salary rarely mirrors this fact.

GENERAL JOB DESCRIPTION

Medical assistants, MA, have many responsibilities. They may schedule patients, answer phones, check insurances, change paitient’s information if needed, and collect co-pays, administratively. Clinically, MAs obtain vitals (such as respiration, pulse, weight, and blood pressure) may verify current medications, perform tests and procedures normal to the specific office, and prepare patients to see the doctor.

UPSIDE OF BEING A MA

I became a medical assistant as a stepping stone. My plans were to become a forensic nurse (which I have since reconsidered). I often watch healthcare shows like Untold Stories of the ER. Healthcare is very fascinating for me. And, working as a MA, my healthcare interests are met (mostly) in the office. I feel needed while I am working; helping people on a daily basis is very satisfying. Plus, as a bonus, I understand what my doctors are saying, and how doctor offices work. This has helped me, and my family, greatly as a patient. There are a variety of possibilities. You can work as a medical receptionist or an EKG or phlebotomy technician. Many other titles may also be available after graduation such as ophthalmic technician or an aid.

DOWNSIDE OF BEING A MA

No job or career is perfect; medical assisting is no exception. A huge downside is the low salary. Plus, you see patients (your customers) because something in their body is malfunctioning. This can be very depressing, especially if you are the caring type. One of the biggest things that I have learned working as an MA is the fact that caring for your patients can be looked down upon. Sure, healthcare staff should be polite, but this is a neccesary act more than human compassion in many of cases. Most offices are more concerned with treating as many patients as possible. Healthcare, as much as it pains me to admit, is a business, afterall.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Be sure the salary won’t hinder your qualtiy of life. You can choose from a variety of education options-from certificate to associates degree. Carefully consider tuition payments when deciding. Also consider why you want to be a MA, and if becoming a MA is the best option for you. Customer service skills are vital to your success. Becoming a MA may open many opportunities for your healthcare career. Also, getting registered or certified, though not required, will greatly improve your salary and job opportunities.

SUMMARY

There are, as with everything else in life, pros and cons to becoming a medical assistant. Do your research thouroghly. Ask past or current medical assistants, along with any other career you may be considering, questions. Do not take your career decisions lightly, especially the school you’ll attend. Being a medical assistant may serve as a perfect career for you, or a great stepping stone. Or, it may not be right for you at all.


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