Medical Assistant, Is That Something For You?

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horse shoesChoosing a career is an important decision. Making the wrong choice can devastate you both financially and emotionally. People who hate their jobs often find themselves physically ill more often, as well. If you make the right career choice, you find that you are actually excited to go to work each day. There are always new challenges that make your job exciting to you. As a person looking to make a career change, how can you be certain that you make the right decision?

One of the most popular career choices for people looking to change careers is medical assisting. Medical assistants< work with doctors to help provide care for patients. They work in both the administrative part of the office, greeting patients and completing billing; and the clinical side, bringing patients to exam rooms and checking vital signs. There are many different programs available to help you become a medical assistant. Most let you complete your program within months instead of years and help with job placement. This is an excellent career path for someone who:

  • Is looking to re-enter the work force
  • Enjoys working with people
  • Has been out of school for years
  • Wants to get started quickly
  • Likes the challenge of a job with variety

Be aware of the “dark side”

thinking medical assistantMedical assisting is a rewarding entry level career that gives you the opportunity to help people while learning valuable health care industry knowledge. However, there are several reasons why medical assisting is not the right career choice for everyone, including:

It is not an easy job – Throughout the day of a medical assistant there are many different tasks that pull you in different directions. Clinical assistants are often on their feet, while administrative assistants may have to deal with frustrations from insurance companies, pharmacies, specialists and patients.

There is comparatively little growth potential – Medical assisting does not offer a traditional career path with promotions and raises. Although, many medical assistants stay in the same position for years there are opportunities to branch out into other similar occupations, such as office manager, medical billing and coding, medical transcriptionist or work in a specialty office like a podiatrist or rheumatologist.

This is not a job for someone who likes to work independently – Medical assisting is a job that involves teamwork. The entire office works to ensure that the patient gets the best care from the time they make the call to schedule an appointment to the time they leave the office. This means that everyone must work together.

You may be exposed to infectious diseases – Due to blood borne pathogens like MRSA, Hepatitis or HIV. Even using universal precautions, it is possible to be exposed to these illnesses through an accidental needle stick, being coughed on or vomited on, or by being exposed to other bodily fluids. As a medical assistant you must work to protect not only your patients, but yourself, as well.

The credits you earn may not be transferable – Most of the time, medical assisting course credits are not transferable to other schools. Each institution evaluates transfer credits on a case by case basis. If you plan on continuing your education beyond medical assisting, it is important to ensure that the school you choose is accredited and has partnerships with other schools.

What qualities should a medical assistant possess?

If you want to become a successful medical assistant, one of the first questions you should ask is what certain qualities and skills a doctor or a health care facility is looking for in a MA and whether or not you fulfill these requirements. A medical assistant should be: Good at multitasking. A medical assistant needs to be able to juggle a multitude of tasks while remaining professional and organized.

Caring and helping – As a medical assistant, it is imperative to be someone who is willing to work hard to provide care to your patients. Many employers will not hire you if you do not have the proper attitude of service toward patients.

Empathic and sensitive to patients – Paying attention to your patient’s emotional needs is just as important as caring for their physical ones.

CooperativeMedical assisting is a career where you are part of a health care team. Every member must pull their weight.

Self-control – Keep emotions in check. There may be situations that are hard or frustrating, and you must keep up a professional demeanor at all times.

Problem solving – You will need to be able to adapt to difficult situations and create solutions to problems that you encounter.

Stress tolerance – Accepting criticism and dealing with stressful situations is not everyone’s cup of tea, but as a medical assistant you will need to use the advice given to improve your work, while remaining calm and composed. Learning good stress relief techniques will help you to manage the stress you encounter throughout your day.

Dependability – The doctor and other staff need to be able to count on you in life threatening situations. Being reliable and taking responsibility for your actions are of the utmost importance in the health care industry.

Good communication skills – As a medical assistant you must be able to speak with a wide variety of people, including patients, employers, peers and supervisors, in order to convey information effectively. Understanding their reactions, including listening and understanding what they say, is important, as well as good English skills like spelling, grammar and proper word usage.

If you do not possess one or more of these skills, or are not strong in those areas, you can work in these areas to improve your abilities. This may include taking additional classes, reading books with tips on improving the skill or enlisting the help of an expert in that area. Taking the time to learn those skills also looks good to an employer looking to hire a medical assistant and may give you an edge over other candidates.

What to look for in medical assisting?

Alongside the importance of taking into account your personal suitability for the job, you will also want to approach the matter as a job seeker. Are you the type of worker who enjoys a challenging and fast-paced work environment? Are you able to think on your feet and solve problems as they come to you?

Money – Most people who become medical assistants look for a variety of rewards, including the pride of a job well done and the feeling you receive from helping others. A steady income is only one of the many motivating factors of becoming a medical assistant. If money is the only reason you are considering entering the health care field, medical assisting may not be the best choice for you.

Job Satisfaction – Your overall quality of life is affected by your job satisfaction. People who enjoy their jobs are more confident and are generally in better health. The satisfaction you receive from having a job you love follows you home and throughout your entire day. You don’t mind getting up in the morning to go to work.

Job Stability – Health care is a field that continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in medical assisting is projected to grow at a rate of 31 percent between the years 2010 and 2020. This is largely due to doctors hiring more medical assistants to meet the increased demand of more patients. This makes medical assisting a career that offers strong job stability.

Local Job Market – What is the job market in your area? There are a variety of resources available for researching your local job market, including a local job center or local library. Asking someone in the health care industry in your area is also a great idea to get an idea regarding the state of your local job market.

Work Conditions – Medical assisting is a relatively safe career choice. Doctor’s offices are generally clean and well lit. Depending upon your role within the office, you may be physically active, escorting patients to exam rooms and checking vital signs, or you may work at a desk throughout the day. Medical assisting offers excellent working conditions that are temperature-controlled and not physically demanding.

Medical assisting is a career that offers a wide variety of benefits and is fairly easy to enter. An education does not take years like other careers, and is great for someone who has not been in school for a long while or is re-entering the workplace. If you are the kind of person who likes helping people and want to enter a fast-paced growing medical field, then medical assisting may definitely be the right career choice for you.