Should I Become a Certified Podiatry Assistant?
Podiatrists are medical doctors who examine, diagnose and surgically repair people's feet. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), podiatry assistants are a type of medical assistant. These workers offer podiatrists clerical and clinical support by completing such duties as obtaining patient information, gathering samples from patients, preparing specimens for testing, recording patient vital signs, and setting up patient appointments. Some podiatry medical assistants help podiatrists in surgery and make foot casts.
Full-time work is available, and some of these assistants may work evenings, weekends or on call. However, those working in an office may work standard business hours. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $30,590 for medical assistants in May 2015.
|Degree Level||A vocational diploma or associate degree|
|Degree Field||Medical assisting|
|Certification||Certified medical assistant (CMA), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and/or basic life support (BLS) certification|
|Key Skills||Detail-oriented with patient records and physician notes, able to follow directions, comfortable communicating with patients, able to analyze medical information for coding purposes, able to use medical equipment appropriately (for example, blood pressure gauges, scales, mechanical examination tables, x-ray machines, and other laboratory equipment), strong listening skills, good hand-eye coordination to use medical tools,|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerBuilder.com and other employer job posting sites.
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Steps to Become a Certified Podiatry Assistant
Let's look at the steps required to become a certified podiatry assistant.
Step 1: Complete a Medical Assistant Training Program
Junior colleges and vocational institutions offer medical assistant programs leading to a diploma, certificate or associate degree in medical assisting. Common coursework includes anatomy and physiology, office procedures, medical terminology, medical insurance procedures, medical coding, and pharmacology. Nearly all programs require students to complete medical assistant externships to fulfill clinical work experience hours. These programs prepare prospective podiatry assistants for certification.
Take a podiatry externship. Some medical assistant training programs may offer externship opportunities at podiatry offices. Individuals interested in podiatry as a career can participate in these programs and gain valuable insight into the day-to-day duties of real podiatry assistants.
Step 2: Get Certified
Many employers want podiatry assistants who are certified as medical assistants. Some of these same employers also wanted applicants who were CPR or BLS certified.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) awards the CMA credential and administers the CMA examination. To take the certification exam, individuals must complete a recognized medical assistant training program and pass a background check. The exam is split into three parts, including clinical, general and administrative questions about the medical assisting field. After passing the exam, individuals must recertify every 60 months by either completing appropriate continued education coursework or retaking the CMA exam.
The American Heart Association regulates CPR and BLS certification. Individuals can become CPR or BLS certified through taking classes with accredited instructors. CPR training topics include techniques for keeping airways clear, methods for dealing with choking patients, and chest compression training. BLS classes cover similar topics, but also include instruction on administering oxygen through rescue breathing or oxygen masks.
Review podiatry assistant certification programs. There are also voluntary certification programs directly in the field of podiatry. For example, the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants offers certification to members. Earning voluntary certification in this field may help workers prove their expertise to potential employers.
Step 3: Build Experience
There are entry-level positions for medical assistants with no experience, but employers prefer applicants with 1-2 years of experience. Some look for post-externship experience as medical assistants. Employers do not always require applicants have direct podiatry experience, so applicants may leverage their general experience as medical assistants to find more specialized jobs in podiatry practices.
Learn multiple job duties. Since employers often seek experience, CMAs should build their clerical and clinical skills. CMAs can gain this experience while working in entry-level positions, particularly if they're willing to volunteer for learning as many new duties as possible, such as billing, direct patient care, lab work, and medical chart coding.
To become a podiatry assistant, you'll need to complete a medical assisting program, earn certification, and acquire experience working in medical assisting.