If you'd like to work in the healthcare field and you think that you'd be good at dealing with medical situations and assisting patients, medical assisting may be the career that you've been looking for. Medical assistants play an important role in the medical field. However, it's not as difficult to break into the medical assisting business as you may think. Take a look at a few ways to get started on your journey to becoming a successful medical assistant.
It may surprise you to learn that there are no legal requirements to become a medical assistant. You don't necessarily have to have a degree or certification to perform the job, although that is the most common route to take. You can become a medical assistant by learning on the job, if you can find a doctor that is willing to train you.
The big advantage of learning how to be a medical assistant under the instruction of an established doctor is that not only do you not have to pay for school, you will actually get paid to learn the job. That can be a big advantage if you're in a hurry to get started on your new career. It also benefits the doctor, who gets an employee trained not just in medical assisting generally, but who is also trained specifically to work in that doctor's specialization and in their specific practice.
The drawback is that it can be harder to get the next job without having a degree or diploma. Just as not all doctors will be interested in training a medical assistant, not all doctors will be interested in hiring a medical assistant who has only had on-the-job training. For some, your experience will be what's most important, but others will prefer that you have formal training. Take that into account if you decide to go this route; even if you opt to learn on the job, once you're trained and earning, it may be worth pursuing a degree while you work, just in case.
Degree or Diploma
A more common route to becoming a medical assistant is to go to school to get a degree or a diploma. You may not be aware that there are several paths available when it comes to medical assistant training. You could opt for a degree program, which can take a few years to complete, or you can choose a diploma program, which you should be able to complete in less than a year. Vocational schools, community colleges, and online college programs are all options where you can find one or both of these programs.
No matter which type of educational program you choose, you'll need to learn about a variety of different subjects. Medical assistant students study anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, phlebotomy, surgical assisting, patient care, and office administration. You'll also spend time doing clinical courses, where you'll work under the supervision of a doctor in a real healthcare setting.
Certification may be the key to ensuring that your medical assisting career is successful and lucrative. It's not enough just to be trained—you'll be paid more and receive more job opportunities if you also have certifications. One of the best certifications to get comes from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible to take the exam for this certification, you will need to be either a student in a medical assistant program or a graduate of a medical assistant program, or have previously been certified by the AAMA.
While the AAMA certification is useful, it's not the only useful certification you can pursue. A continuing education course in a particular specialty, like podiatry or ophthalmology, can make you a more knowledgeable and more valuable employee, which can lead to higher wages, greater responsibilities, and increased job opportunities.
No matter how you choose to pursue your medical assisting career, it will take work, commitment, and study on your part in order to achieve your goal. However, you'll be rewarded with a fulfilling and financially stable career. To learn more about your options, contact resources like ASA College.
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