Medical assistants conduct health histories, take vital signs, draw blood, prep patients for surgery, and perform many other duties under the supervision of doctors and nurses. In addition to required coursework, medical assisting students may complete an internship at an area medical office or hospital towards the end of the program. Admittance requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and most programs can be completed in two years or less.
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Certification for Registered Medical Assistants
The medical assisting curriculum includes clinical studies and medical office management courses that stress office procedures. Students could learn to interact with patients, assist doctors with giving injections, update medical records, and manage the daily operations of a medical front office. They might become proficient with keyboarding, word processing, and other related duties. Coursework also includes human anatomy and physiology, medical coding, lab procedures and medical ethics. Students will be introduced to medical equipment such as x-ray and echocardiography machines. Courses in the program cover the following topics:
- Medical terminology
- Patient care
- Medical billing
- Medical procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of supportive roles in the healthcare industry, including jobs in physician's offices, clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and insurance companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistants held 591,300 jobs in the U.S. in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession were expected to grow by 23% between 2014 and 2024. The annual median salary for a medical assistant in 2015 was $30,590.
Continuing Education Information
Upon successful completion of a medical assistant program, graduates are eligible to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam offered through the American Medical Technologists (AMT). RMAs are required to complete 30 continuing education points every three years to maintain certification.
AMT also offers numerous continuing education opportunities to its members, including online courses, annual meetings and publications (www.amt1.com). Graduates interested in obtaining a bachelor's degree might consider enrolling in a healthcare management degree program, which could increase job prospects and boost salary expectations.
Students can prepare to become a medical assistant by enrolling in a certification program to develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed to pass the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam. Medical assistants are expected to have faster than average job growth, and graduates are eligible for continuing education opportunities.