Medical assistants are an increasingly important part of the healthcare team as hospitals and healthcare facilities strive to accommodate the needs of a growing patient population. If you’re looking for a hands-on career in healthcare, then a role as a medical assistant might be perfect for you.
Check out some of the benefits of a medical assisting career:
1. Medical assistants are in demand
Medical assisting is one of the fastest-growing healthcare careers today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment for medical assistants will grow by as much as 29 percent through 2026, adding as many as 183,900 new jobs. Read more about the average medical assisting salary across the United States and find an estimate in your state.
According to the BLS, employment growth in the healthcare sector is driven largely by the aging baby boomer population, which will continue to drive demand for preventative health services in years to come. Physicians will increasingly rely on medical assistants for clinical and administrative support so they can serve more patients.
2. There are different types of medical assistant
Not all medical assistants have the same duties and responsibilities. Some medical assistants provide administrative support, while others provide clinical support or a mix of the two. In an administrative role, you might be tasked with greeting patients, updating insurance information and managing billing for medical services. These roles require attention to detail and strong organizational skills.
In a clinical role, you will work alongside physicians and registered nurses (RNs) in providing primary care for patients. Your duties could include assisting with examinations; explaining medical procedures and medications to patients; and recording vital signs.
3. They play a key role in patient care
Medical assistants are often the first and last person a patient interacts with during a medical visit. Part of their job is to help put patients at ease and ensure a smooth and stress-free appointment. For example, a medical assistant can help a patient feel more comfortable about an upcoming procedure by translating complex medical language into terms patients can better understand.
“It’s very important that our employees are able to make their patients feel comfortable as they deliver excellent care,” says Shawn Powers, CEO of Baptist Community Health Services (BCHS), one of Herzing’s clinical partners in New Orleans. “We look for medical assisting graduates that already have the skills they need to cultivate relationships and build trust with our patients, as well as support the doctor in all aspects of patient care.”
4. Successful medical assistants have strong interpersonal skills
In addition to a good bedside manner, medical assistants need strong interpersonal skills to work effectively with physicians, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team. Whether you’re working primarily in an administrative or clinical role, empathy, problem-solving, communication and collaboration are all key to your success.
5. The possibilities are endless
As a medical assistant, you can work in a variety of healthcare settings. Most medical assistants build their careers in general practice or specialty physicians’ offices, while others might work in hospitals, long-term care, or outpatient clinics.
If you wish to incorporate both clinical and administrative duties into your daily work routine, you might enjoy working in a physician’s office or smaller work environment where medical assistants often perform both functions.
6. It’s a fast track to a healthcare career
You can earn a diploma in medical assisting and begin your career in as little as 10 to 12 months. Some medical assistants choose to advance their career with an associate’s degree in medical assisting, which can be completed in as little as 16 months at Herzing University.
7. You can advance into nursing or other healthcare jobs
With experience, medical assistants can move into leadership roles, filling another vital healthcare workforce need. By advancing their education, they can become healthcare managers, healthcare administrators, nurses and more.
Herzing’s medical assisting program prepares students for administrative and clinical roles in medical assisting, while providing a clear pathway for upward mobility. Graduates of Herzing’s medical assisting program can apply credits toward bachelor’s degrees in healthcare administration, health information management, health sciences or one of Herzing’s various nursing degree programs.
8. You can specialize based on your interests
Medical assistants who work at a hospital or large practice typically specialize in either clinical or administrative work as they gain experience. Other medical assistants may specialize depending on the type of office they work in. For example, a podiatric medical assistant would work alongside a podiatrist and could assist with X-rays, surgery, and more.
9. Certification and continued education is important
Certification is an important part of becoming a medical assistant. While your state might not require medical assistants to be certified, it can give you a competitive edge over other job candidates. After you have completed a degree or diploma program, you should consider sitting for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exams.
Graduates of both Herzing’s ASMAS and DMAS programs are prepared to sit for these exams.
10. It’s a rewarding profession
“I chose to pursue a career in medical assisting because I wanted to make a difference in others’ lives. I wanted to do something important,” says Kelly Habig, a medical assisting graduate and current healthcare student at Herzing University.
Medical assistants might not be the first people you think of when it comes to the healthcare team, but they are indispensable and play a vital role in ensuring patients have a positive healthcare experience.