October 20th is Medical Assistants Day, a day to honor one of the most versatile roles in healthcare. From confirming appointments and checking in patients, to taking vitals, recording medical histories, and drawing blood, medical assistants perform a wide range of tasks. If you thrive on variety and options, this may be the perfect job for you.
"The medical assisting program at All-State Career allows students to gain real-world skills, designed to help them secure and advance their careers. The skills we teach focus on hands-on practical techniques to increase your clinical ability and build the foundations of knowledge to prepare learners for a wide-variety of clinical settings," says Corey M. Dennis, Nursing Faculty and Simulation coordinator at All-State Career in Essington, PA.
“Medical assisting is a comprehensive career and a multi-task job, aiming basically to qualify a person to assist physicians, nurses, and to allow him or her to be able to deal with specific clinical and administrative tasks,” says Dr. Ahmed Attia's, a biology professor at St. Paul School of Nursing in Staten Island, NY.
As a medical assisting graduate, you’ll have a variety of potential employers, including physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. Or you can choose to focus on a specific niche.
One area you can choose to focus on is a certain area of medicine. For example, you could work in pediatrics, obstetrics, ophthalmology, or dermatology.
Gabriel Holder, medical assisting lead instructor for St. Paul School of Nursing’s Queens (NY) campus, says students will get a better understanding of their preferred specializations during their internship.
“A lot of time students says they want to work with children until they work with children, or they like OB until they do it,” he says. “Choosing your specialty often comes down to picking the office they want to work with based on logistics, time, and distance.”
You can also become specialized on a certain task. One of the popular niches is a certified Phlebotomist degree, which is possible after successfully passing a didactic and hands-on phlebotomy course, including a state licensure exam.
If cardiology is of interest to you, Attia says a popular niche is EKG, which is a test that helps diagnose pulmonary and heart conditions. Students take a comprehensive EKG course followed by a licensure exam to become a certified EKG technician.
If patient or lab work isn’t your strength, you can also pursue work in more administrative roles. Medical assistant students can also take courses such as medical billing and coding and electronic health records to become qualified for managing administrative and clinical positions in medical facilities.
These roles happen behind the scenes and are important for the healthcare facility to run efficiently. Medical billers make sure insurance companies are properly billed while medical coders make sure procedures are properly recorded and coded. And, administrative positions include maintaining health records, scheduling appointments, and handling customer service interactions.
Choosing the right niche
As part of the medical assistant program, students will be trained on the aspects of all medical specialties, such as performing an EKG, drawing blood, assisting in minor surgery, and working in pediatrics.
“Hone your general skills and worry about specialization after,” says Holder.
If you want recommendations on choosing a niche, Attia suggest consulting faculty members. “[They] usually know their students well and know also their strong and weak points, which would appear obviously in the class,” says Attia. “The faculty member can mentor and guide his students by going over the important topics, working on their weak points, and showing them the privileges in the career, that could be considered for their choices, in the other hand, students should study hard and trust their faculties, and showing them that they are interested in the class and have the passion to learn and to achieve.”
You will know you made the right choice when you see your performance improving, says Attia. “When you feel that your experience is being thriving, and specifically when you become able to deal with the problems without getting help, here you are on the right track,” he says.
If becoming a professional medical assistant sounds like an appealing career choice to you, Fortis can help you get on the path with a strong education. Click here to learn more about the program or call 1-855-436-7847 to talk to a counselor about getting started today! Fortis Colleges and institutes, All-State Career Schools and St. Paul’s School of Nursing are part of the post-secondary network of schools that also includes the Denver College of Nursing.