Medical Assistant Career and Educational Path: Five Key Q&As
You see yourself pursuing a career in health sciences. Your goal is to make better life for yourself, yet you want a stimulating and fast-paced career.
Starting your path toward becoming a medical assistant will help you achieve those goals. Here are the top questions and answers related to medical assistant career and schooling that will help you answer the question: “Is this career path right for me?”
Question 1: I want to be in the medical field, but I don’t know EXACTLY what I want to do…
Medical assisting is a rewarding career that can open up many avenues in the medical world. If you are unsure about where you want to land in healthcare but know you have a passion to help people, a role as a medical assistant may be a perfect fit for you.
A medical assistant can go into many different specialty areas and gain many different additional certifications such as limited scope x-ray operater, catherization, casting technician, and so on. After gaining experience in the field and additional schooling, one may also choose to go into nursing, sonography, laboratory technology, physician assisting, or radiology.
Question 2: I’m worried about going back to school. What characteristics should I look for in a medical assistant program?
One very important aspect in finding the right medical assisting program is the hands-on nature of the coursework. In this career path, you will be working in patient care, so it’s important to get the proper physical training.
While searching for a medical assisting program, you will also want to make sure that the program has credentialed, personable, and hands-on instructors. Look for instructors that are open and willing to work with you at any level until you feel comfortable with your coursework.
Additionally, students should seek a school that offers plentiful student support. This program is intense, so you will need the proper academic, technical, and career services to make your journey through school is a bit easier. Services like free tutoring and library access, course scheduling, and career placement services are all examples of offerings you should look for in a medical assisting program.
Question 3: How do I make the leap from my medical assistant program to the real workforce?
In this program, students are required to complete a clinical externship with most medical assisting programs. With this externship, you will work with Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs) and other healthcare professionals who have in-field experience. These “mentors” of sorts, can show you how a real clinic works and put your knowledge from school to the test. This is your opportunity to learn before you are out of school and into the world of medical assisting.
Question 4: Should I obtain a Medical Assisting Diploma or an Associate’s degree?
A Medical Assitant Diploma program usually lasts about one year of full-time study. In as little as 12 months, you could earn your Medical Assisting Diploma which will provide you with the technical and patient skills necessary to enter the job market. As a graduate of a diploma program, will give you the solid foundation to also enter into an Associate’s degree program.
An Associate’s degree, which typically lasts around two years, is another great option in this career track. Your level of education may affect your ability to move into different positions within the clinical system, therefore many medical assistants seek this degree in order to move up in the workforce.
Question 5: Where can I work as a medical assistant?
Medical assistants typically work within the clinical system or in doctor’s offices but can also be found working in prison clinics and for insurance companies.
Medical assistants play a huge role in a patients experience—therefore their role is critical in healthcare. Whether it is a minor action or kind word, a medical assistant can truly make a patient’s healthcare experience a good one. In this career, you build professional relationships with your patients and continuously have a hand in making sure your patients are taken care of.
About the Author: This article was written by Lynn Skafte, the National Medical Assisting Coordinator for Rasmussen College. She has served the college as a instructor for three years, and now oversees the College’s medical assisting degree program.