If you have a goal of working in a doctor’s office, hospital or other clinical setting, medical assisting may be the perfect job for you.
According to statistics, the medical assisting profession is growing by 29 percent, much higher than average. And with minimal education, you can earn over $30,000 a year. This means with a fast-track training certificate or an associate degree, you could be working in the medical assisting field within two years.
Further, this means you can begin implementing your skills of medical billing and coding, administering drugs to patients, completing electronic health records and assisting the physicians in any way they need you.
They may need assistance with lab work, patient services or office administration. Each day on the job could be filled with different tasks. This means your days will not be boring or routine. You will have variety in your duties, which can be appealing to many.
If this sounds like the career you want, following specific steps may help you get there quicker. These steps are listed below.
Choose a Training Program
Several factors should be taken into consideration when choosing a training program. The first is to decide what level of education you want to get you started working as a medical assistant. While you can obtain a four-year degree or higher, it is not necessary.
Medical assistants with an associate level degree or even a training certificate are being sought after for employment. Obtaining one of these could allow you to seek employment in two years or less. Once you are working in the field, then you could decide if you want to gain further education.
And the good news is that the courses you obtain in a two-year or fast-track program can transfer to higher degree programs.
The second factor to consider in a training program is how will you attend classes. Do you have time and flexibility in your lifestyle to attend all classes in-person and on campus? Or, would taking online courses be a better fit?
Other questions you want to answer while choosing a training program include: Is the college accredited so that it ensures you meet national requirements for the job and allow you to sit for certification exams? Is an externship included in the program that allows you to acquire on-the-job training? Will you have access to professors? What is the cost of the program?
Decide How You Will Fund Your Training
Funding your education to become a medical assistant is one of the most important questions you will need to answer before enrolling. There are many options such as grants, loans, scholarships, and paying as you go.
Some who are already working in the medical industry can participate in tuition reimbursement programs if that option is available through their employer.
Take time to analyze all your options before making a final decision. Seek help from the college training program you choose. Most colleges have financial aid departments with staff who can advise you and help you apply for funding.
Prepare for Lifestyle Changes
Obtaining a certificate or degree to get into the medical assisting field will require lifestyle changes. However, there are programs that require less change than others.
Attending a local college may be the best option for your lifestyle. They offer online classes so you can complete assignments at a time that is best for you. They allow you to continue to work and take care of family responsibilities while finishing coursework at your pace.
You can work on classes during your lunch break at your full-time job. You can contact professors between errands. You can submit final assignments in the middle of the night from your sofa.
Local colleges make it easy for you to fit education into your lifestyle, not the other way around.
Choose the Right Certifications
Medical assistant programs offered at local colleges typically prepare students to take the Medical Assistant Certification exam. This exam may be established by national agencies such as the American Association of Medical Assistants or American Medical Technologists.
Not every job requires you to pass a certification exam. But if you choose to do so, you may have an edge over those competing for the same job. It shows you took an extra step to show your qualifications. It may even be used to bargain for a higher starting salary or raise.
Many local college programs prepare you for additional certification exams that can enhance your resume. These can include: The Certified Medical Assistant; The Registered Medical Assistant; and the National Certified Medical Assistant.
In addition to these, you may even want to obtain certifications in areas such as immunizations, phlebotomy technology, EKG technology, HIPAA, and clinical laboratories.
Find the Right Job
Likely, there will be opportunities through your local college for you to participate in externships. Meaning, you can acquire on-the-job training by working alongside others in the medical assisting field. These are valuable experiences.
You will also have opportunities to network with professionals in the healthcare industry. When networking, don’t just focus on those who work in a family practice or a hospital. You are now eligible to work in almost every type of medical office.
So, when networking, connect with industry professionals in all areas, from chiropractors to orthopedics to optometrists. Think of urgent care providers or imaging laboratories. You can even pick a specialty area that piques your interest.
For instance, you may want to work with children, so your goal would be to work as a medical assistant at a pediatric office. Or, you may only want to work with the elderly, so nursing homes would be a desirable employer.
In conclusion, getting into the medical assisting field is a lot easier than you may think. Contact your local college to help you answer questions about funding, course formats and program details. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be working in in the field, which just so happens to be booming right now.