Medical assistants are becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare team, as hospitals and healthcare facilities strive to accommodate the needs of a growing patient population.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates employment for medical assistants will grow by as much as 29 percent through 2026, more than four times the average rate for all occupations.
While increased demand may improve the outlook for how much medical assistants make, you can utilize your experience as an MA to advance your career to the next level. With experience, medical assistants can specialize and move into leadership roles, filling another vital healthcare workforce need. By advancing their education, they can become healthcare managers, healthcare administrators, nurses and more. Ready to take your healthcare career to the next level?
Check out some of these fast-growing career options beyond the medical assistant role:
1. Healthcare management
Many students who start out as a medical assistant choose to advance their education with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or management. Graduates of a healthcare management program can pursue advanced roles in a variety of healthcare industries, including insurance, healthcare policy, healthcare finance, and information management, as well as various clinical settings.
The BLS reports that organizations have a growing need for healthcare managers to plan, direct and coordinate health services. They project 20-percent employment growth for medical and health services managers between 2016 and 2026 and as many as 72,000 new jobs. The average salary for medical services managers in 2017 was $98,350, according to BLS data.
Healthcare management job titles include:
- Physician Practice Manager
- Health Care Administrator
- Patient Finance Manager
- Health Insurance Manager
- Managed Care Representative
- Healthcare Department Manager
2. Health information management
Health information careers are experiencing rapid growth as organizations invest in electronic medical record-keeping. As a result, there is a growing demand for managers with knowledge of health information systems to ensure that patient data is recorded accurately and securely.
Similar to medical assistants, HIM professionals need strong analytical, problem-solving and communication skills. For medical assistants with administrative experience, a bachelor’s degree in health information management can provide the additional technical training needed to pursue roles as a health information technician or clinical data specialist, or leadership roles such as HIM Project Manager or HIM Director.
3. Health sciences
Medical assistants looking to complete a bachelor’s degree and advance their allied health career to the next level may consider earning a bachelor’s degree in health science.
Health sciences can offer many unique career paths in health and wellness, fitness and nutrition, health policy and community healthcare roles. Current healthcare professionals, including medical assistants, may build upon their current experience and education to earn their bachelor’s degree faster and better qualify for the next level of managerial-level roles in their fields.
There is a critical, widening gap between the demand for healthcare services and availability of qualified nursing professionals. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for RNs will increase by as much 15 percent nationwide by 2026, adding more than 400,000 new jobs.
The nationwide demand for nurses is creating new career advancement opportunities for medical assistants, as well as other healthcare professionals.
“I have always wanted to help people, and a career as a medical assistant is a great way to do that,” says Tiffany Norfleet, who earned her medical assisting degree at Herzing in 2018. “But my next step is to further my education by attending nursing school.”
A career in nursing not only provides increased job stability and earning potential, but it also offers an opportunity to direct and manage patient care, as well as pursue specialties in pediatrics, ambulatory care, oncology or other areas to become one of many different types of nurses.
Medical assistants can advance to a career in nursing by completing an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Often, medical assistants can earn credit for previous coursework and professional healthcare experience, accelerating their transition to a new career.
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 or Health Information Management, or one of Herzing’s various nursing degree programs.
In fact, students who complete an associate in medical assisting program online can earn a bachelor’s in healthcare management in as little as 16 months. Additionally, students in the bachelor’s degree program can get a head start on earning an MBA in healthcare management through a dual credit option. The MBA concentration is designed to prepare students with the strategic skills and business acumen required for healthcare leadership roles. This program is ideal if you are looking to take the step from clinical practice into management.
Not sure which path is right for you? Check out our tips for choosing the right healthcare degree program, and start your path to career advancement today.