Pediatric medical assistants are like traditional medical assistants in that they can gain formal training or complete their knowledge of the field on the job. These professionals should be able to work well with children and may benefit from obtaining volunteer experience with children prior to entering this field. Certification is voluntary, but may attract more employment opportunities.
Pediatric medical assistants help pediatricians by handling administrative and clinical duties in the office, along with performing preparatory procedures on patients or assisting with examinations. Education for this program is a mixture of on-the-job training and either completion of an associate's degree, certificate or diploma program in medical assisting.
|Required Education||Associate's degree, college coursework, and/or on-the-job training|
|Other Requirements||Certification (optional)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||23% (for all medical assistants)*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$30,590 (for all medical assistants)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A pediatrician is a medical doctor who primarily works with children, ranging from newborns to young adults. Pediatric medical assistants work with these physicians in both a clerical and medical capacity. A pediatric medical assistant may obtain training while on-the-job, but many employers prefer to hire those who have completed a medical assisting education program.
Certificate or diploma programs in medical assisting are available at many community colleges and technical schools. They normally last about nine months to one year. Students may also enroll in a 2-year program to earn a medical assisting associate's degree. In some cases, pediatric medical assistants can obtain additional education and perform other duties in a pediatrician's office, like taking X-rays or administering medication and injections.
Coursework in medical assistant programs are medical and clerical in nature. This allows prospective pediatric medical assistants to learn to perform office duties and assist pediatricians with medical work. Medical courses cover everything from laws and ethics to examinations and procedures. Potential courses a pediatric medical assistant might take include office management, medical coding and billing, anatomy, medical terminology and computer basics. Many medical assistant programs include an internship or externship; students who wish to specialize in pediatric medical assisting should request to be placed in a pediatrician's office or pediatric clinic.
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Pediatric medical assistants work under the supervision of pediatricians in an office or clinic and handle office, clinical and administrative duties to allow the pediatrician to focus on assisting patients. Setting up appointment times, filing and retrieving medical records, assisting patients with insurance forms and handling accounting duties are all tasks that a pediatric medical assistant is expected to do on a regular basis.
Additionally, pediatric medical assistants communicate with patients on behalf of doctors, completing duties like rescheduling appointments and relaying information between pediatricians and patients. Minor preparation duties like taking a patient's weight and height are also performed by pediatric medical assistants to prepare a patient to meet with the doctor.
Certification is not a requirement to work in this occupation; however, many employers prefer pediatric medical assistants with certification and encourage workers to obtain certification. Certification credentials can be obtained from several different organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants. Certification requires the completion of an examination that tests the pediatric medical assistants' skills and knowledge. Recertification can be obtained through taking another examination or by obtaining continuing education credits.
Salary and Employment Outlook
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median salary for medical assistants was $30,590. The field is expected to grow by 23% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the average rate.
There's no standard education requirement to become a pediatric medical assistant. In general, medical assistants typically finish a postsecondary non-degree program, but an associate's degree is a personal choice. Regardless of training path, this career is expected to experience an increase in employment through 2024.