Medical assistants support physicians by collecting and recording pertinent patient information, among other duties related to delivering patient care. As vital members of healthcare teams, they facilitate efficiencies in the doctor’s office, hospital, outpatient care center, or private practice! Medical assistants should be reliable, detail-oriented, and technically able, not to mention personable. In this article, we’ll discuss how to become a medical assistant and what that could mean for your healthcare career.
What are the requirements to become a medical assistant?
The requirements to become a medical assistant vary by state and by employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Some states may require assistants to graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, or both, in order to practice.”
In Connecticut, there are no formal education or certification requirements. However, most medical assistants are expected to complete a postsecondary training program. Medical assisting programs typically take one year to complete, leading to a diploma or certificate. Additionally, Connecticut employers often prefer to hire medical assistants who have earned professional certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
How do I become a medical assistant?
The first step to becoming a medical assistant is to consider your educational training options. While a postsecondary diploma or certificate is not always required to practice as a medical assistant, a medical assistant with such training is much more competitive and impressive to prospective employers.
Despite popular belief, you can become a medical assistant fast. Unlike many other healthcare careers, which require several years in school, the time commitment to become a medical assistant is only about one year.
Most medical assisting programs are offered at the certificate or diploma level, taking about 12 months to complete. While this timeline may seem short, medical assisting programs are comprehensive. A great medical assisting program prepares students through foundational, theory classes as well as practical experiences in real medical settings.
For example, the medical assistant program at Stone Academy takes just one year to complete. This includes ten months of on-campus study, followed by two months of an externship. On-campus learning involves a mix of lecture, laboratory, and clinical classes. The externship component gives students an incredible, competitive edge. Medical assisting students earn more than just a diploma—they acquire 240 hours of hands-on experience, in an active healthcare setting. In this experience, they can apply all the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to direct patient care and office management. They graduate with on-the-job experience and qualify for career prospects and professional certification exams immediately.
What will I study in a medical assisting program?
A medical assistant program that prepares graduates for success should cover theory, administrative experience, and clinical training. This integrated approach produces medical assistants ready to tackle not only patient physical assessment duties but also behind-the-scenes work at a bustling doctor’s office. For example, medical assistants may collect a urine or blood specimen from a patient, then record information in a computer database. They must understand how patients’ data is protected under HIPAA law and may organize and print charts for the physician to review. They’ll need to be able to process billing, liaise with insurance providers, and schedule the patient for a follow-up using the offices’ appointment system. To become a medical assistant is to learn the entire patient visit process from top to bottom, inside and out.
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a medical assistant?
Medical assistants operate under the supervision of a physician, and their jobs include close contact with patients and their records. Medical assistants might prepare examination rooms, sterilize tools and equipment, escort patients around the facility, and take their height, weight, and blood pressure. They also record patient medical history, vitals, test results and collect specimens. Knowledge of diseases and symptoms is required because medical assistants administer medication as directed by a physician. They may need to answer questions about how the medication will relieve symptoms or inspire side effects. Medical assistants may be responsible for providing education about wellness and preventive healthcare.
Where could I work as a medical assistant?
Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, though some may find work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, and chiropractic offices. However, those who are educated in a medical assistant program might want to seek more advanced work in labs, the ER, or an ophthalmologist’s office, as an office manager, phlebotomist, triage assistant, or laboratory tech. Medical assistants work full-time, but their hours and days of the week on the job vary depending on the workplace and position. Some medical assistants work evenings, weekends, or holidays to meet the needs of the hospital or emergency room.
How much can I make as a medical assistant in Connecticut?
The statewide average medical assistant salary in Connecticut is $42,544 annually. The Waterbury region pays the highest average salary, at $43,497 annually, while the Danbury region pays the lowest, at $39,996 annually. Compared to the national average wage of medical assistants ($37,190 annually), becoming a medical assistant anywhere in Connecticut is a great idea!
Are there opportunities for medical assistants in this economy?
The medical assistant employment outlook is also fantastic. Across the U.S., the medical assistant employment rate is projected to grow 18% between 2020 and 2030, or much faster than average for all occupations. It is even growing 2% faster than all other healthcare support occupations! Like the national trends, in Connecticut, the employment rate is also growing much faster than average, and these many job openings will offer excellent opportunities to eligible applicants.
Become a Medical Assistant in One Year
If it is possible to become a medical assistant fast and be on your way to earning over $42k annually in less than a year, don’t you agree the 12 months in school is worthwhile? Day and evening classes are available at Stone Academy so you can integrate your current priorities into your plans for the future.
Stone Academy also offers job placement assistance to help you land the job you want the most! When even the credentialing exams you need are included in the affordable tuition cost, choosing our medical assistant program is even easier.
Call us today at 800-585-1315, for information or a tour, or request information online!