When the government passed the Affordable Care Act, insurance premiums for Americans decreased and the number of expected insured Americans rose. This is causing an unprecedented growth in the primary care sector, which is hiring medical assistants at an above average pace. The demand comes from the aging baby-boomer population. The health concerns of that generation has created an opening in the service industry for those willing to work entry level positions with doctors and primary care facilities.
Becoming a medical assistant is a solid entry level position that can lead job seekers deeper into the medical field without pursuing a doctorate. These jobs are expected to grow in cities with larger populations, where demand for health care is likely to be higher than rural areas.
Medical Assistant Description
A medical assistant is an intermediary between the patient and the health care provider. He or she is responsible for gathering patient insurance and personal information, and relaying that to the provider. When care is documented, the medical assistant is responsible for the organization and filing of those records. As hospitals transition to digital record keeping, assistants are increasingly being asked to participate in this electronic filing.
Medical assistants may also fill the role of an X-Ray technician, in so far as preparing X-Rays for a doctor to review. Assistants are also responsible for some of the patient interaction before an appointment, including preparing a room for the doctor to work.
Frequent interaction with patients requires someone who possesses customer service skills and can manage people well. In a busy doctor’s office, patients can become easily agitated with long wait times, so the position requires a certain level of diplomacy. Candidates should also have a working knowledge of medical terminology and be able to apply that in an office setting. The position is mostly entry-level, but a good candidate will usually have a degree from medical assistant schools that offer accreditation and certification, in addition to other degrees like a GED.
As an assistant, you may be required to draw blood or perform other medical procedures. You should be trained in CPR, know how to use a thermometer and you should possess strong problem solving skills. Your duties will also depend on your specialty.
Administrative assistants will file forms and handle correspondence with insurance companies. Clinical assistants might instruct patients on how to take medication, or how to plan a diet. Opthamalogist assistants assist optometrists in diagnosing eye problems in patients, while podiatrist assistants make foot casts to help diagnose and perform surgery on a patient’s feet.
Pay and Job Outlook
Overall, medical assistants take home an average of $30,000 per year. The demands of a hospital are truly full time, so some assistants work late nights or weekends in order to fill a shift. Hospitals may also rotate staff so that fewer people work consecutive late nights.
Job outlook is expected to grow faster than the national average, so this career is excellent for entry level workers with aspirations to grow in the medical field. The position transitions well into a dental assistant, but may also lead candidates to jobs as occupational therapists or pharmacy technicians.
The most important tip to remember for potential job seekers is to continue seeking education. Night courses on new advances in health information technology will improve your chances of serving the hospital better and getting a promotion. A few certifications and some work experience is all it takes to bump your pay an extra $10,000.