Become a Hospital Assistant: Education and Career Roadmap

Aug 25, 2018

Learn how to become a hospital assistant. Research the job description and education and certification requirements and find out how to start a career as a hospital assistant. View article »

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  • 0:03 Becoming a Hospital Assistant
  • 0:28 Career Requirements
  • 1:16 Step 1: High School Diploma
  • 1:35 Step 2: Postsecondary Program
  • 2:20 Step 3: Earn Certification

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Video Transcript

Becoming a Hospital Assistant

So you think you might like to become a hospital assistant? Hospital assistants, also known as medical assistants, work with doctors and patients in physicians' offices, hospitals, and medical clinics. Assistants interact heavily with the public and occasionally perform clinical tasks, such as measuring patients' vital signs. In hospitals, some assistants must be scheduled to work nights and weekends.

Career Requirements

So what are the career requirements? Starting with the right education is important.

Degree Level At least a high school diploma, and some employers prefer someone with an associate's degree
Degree Field Medical assisting
Certification Vary by state
Experience Experience working in a healthcare setting may be helpful; can be gained via on-the-job training or internships
Key Skills Interpersonal skills; detail-oriented; general office software skills; software used for billing and coding; understanding medical charts; using basic clinical equipment for monitoring patients' vital signs
Salary $39,590 (median annual wage for medical assistants)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: High School Diploma

High school courses in math, science, biology, health, and computers are helpful for those interested in becoming medical assistants. Volunteer work in hospitals or healthcare settings provide prospective medical assistants with some experience.

Step 2: Postsecondary Program

Students who complete one-year or two-year programs in medical assisting learn the skills necessary to begin entry-level hospital assistant positions. Students who earn certificates or associate's degrees in medical assisting may find more job opportunities and greater pay than those without formal education.

A medical assisting program covers both the clinical and administrative aspects of a hospital assistant's job. Courses emphasize anatomy, medical ethics, medications, insurance processing, and first aid. Students also learn about transcription, keyboarding, clinical procedures and laboratory techniques. Programs sometimes include medical assisting internship opportunities.

Step 3: Earn Certification

Although not required, industry certification demonstrates to employers a minimum level of competency. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) requires candidates to be graduates of accredited medical assisting programs and pass a certification examination to earn the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) designation. The AAMA also requires CMAs to maintain certification by retaking the exam every six years or earning 60 continuing education unit points every five years. Some medical assistants choose to earn specialty certifications in podiatry, ophthalmology, or optometry.

Earning a high school diploma, completing an associate's degree or certificate program, getting certified as a Certified Medical Assistant are the steps to take to make the most of a career as a hospital assistant.

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