I want to be a medical assistant... but where do I start?
If you’re looking for a new direction, you may be wondering about a career as a medical assistant. You already know that by joining the fast-paced medical field, you’ll play a crucial role in helping patients and providing a great healthcare experience. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the medical assistant career is in great demand right now.
FACT: Medical assisting jobs are projected to increase 29% through 2026
And the fact that you don’t need to spend years in school to become one makes becoming a medical assistant all the more appealing to you. But before you get started on a medical assisting career, what do you need to know? What medical assisting skills does one need to be successful?
For medical assistants, it’s all about job-specific tasks and great people skills. But that’s only the beginning. We used government information and real-time job analysis data to identify the medical assisting skills in highest demand. Keep reading to see what you need to master in order to launch your medical assisting career.
Medical assistant skills you need to succeed
In order to understand the skills medical assistants need, you’ll first want to take a look at the typical duties in a day of their lives.
Medical assistants work in healthcare facilities; typically in medical clinics, with patients, doctors and nurses all vying for their time. They perform both administrative and clinical duties under the direction of a physician. Medical assisting is a patient-facing healthcare career. These professionals spend their days interacting with patients of all different backgrounds.
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Maintaining medical records, and billing and coding information for insurance
- Preparing patients for examination
- Helping physicians with patient examinations
- Taking and recording vital signs, such as blood pressure
- Drawing blood
- Preparing blood samples for laboratory tests
- Giving patients injections or medications as directed by a physician (in some states)
If you plan on becoming a medical assistant, you can expect to spend your shifts doing these types of job duties. With a combination of behind-the-scenes and front office duties to juggle, medical assistants must employ a wide range of skills. But some are more sought after than others. Keep reading to see which ones employers seek.
The most in-demand medical assisting skills employers want
When it comes to finding your first medical assistant job, what skills will you need to be hirable? What skills are employers looking for in medical assisting candidates? We used real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com to examine more than 102,000 medical assistant job postings from the past year.*
The data helped us identify which medical assisting skills are in highest demand from employers. Take a look and see what the top 10 medical assisting skills are:
- Patient care
- Vital signs measurement
- Appointment setting
- Patient preparation
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Electronic medical records
- Medical terminology
Looking over these top skills of medical assistants, you may notice a few themes. Some tasks are clerical, such as scheduling appointments and maintaining electronic medical records. Other tasks are patient-focused, such as taking vital signs, educating patients and giving injections. Because so many of the medical assistant duties are done face-to-face with patients, you won’t be tucked away in a back room or behind a desk. Medical assistants work right in the heart of the action of the healthcare field.
So if you enjoy interacting with a wide array of people and consider yourself a great communicator, you already have a strong foundation on which to build your medical assisting career.
Customer service is a theme in patient-facing careers
While you likely haven’t drawn blood before, you may have customer-facing experiences in your past. Whether you’ve worked in retail or remember selling candy for school fundraisers, you can draw on the interpersonal skills you acquired along the way and leverage these in a medical assisting career.
Because medical assistants spend their days interacting with patients, customer service plays a large role in how patients perceive their visit. Your interactions will play a big role into their overall experience. Patients usually interact with medical assistants first, so their first impression of a facility—whether good or bad—starts with you. And because you represent the healthcare facility, it’s important to be positive, engaged, confident in your duties and comfortable working with patients of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life.
Now you know …
Medical assistants work in the heart of healthcare, face to face with patients each and every day. With a projected employment growth of 29 percent through 2026, which is over three times faster than average, you can rest easy knowing your medical assisting skills are in demand.
Luckily, you’re not expected to learn how to do this all on your own. That’s where an education comes in. Coursework and internships put you on the right path. With classes that focus on medical records and functions of the human body, you’ll soon master these medical assisting skills for your future career.
Think you have what it takes for a career as a medical assistant? Check out our Medical Assistant Diploma page to learn more about taking the first step toward your dream job.
*Source: BurningGlass.com (Analysis of medical assisting job postings, September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017).
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in December 2013. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2017.
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