With advances in medical technology and an ever-aging population, the health care industry is exploding. The need for health care professionals is also expanding at a phenomenal rate. As a medical assistant, you have the opportunity to serve in a wide variety of capacities including:
Medical Office Assistant
…And much more
With an education in medical assisting, you will be an expert in:
Office computer technology and word processing
Perhaps the best part about becoming a medical assistant is the you can become one so quickly. Many programs can be done in less than a year and you can quit flipping burgers and start helping people!
Schools that offer a medical assistant program will all be a little different, but all will have a general structure to the required classes and knowledge base:
Medical Law- As an MA, you will be under the license of a physician who is ultimately responsible for your actions. So if you screw up, he takes the heat. Naturally it becomes very important for you to understand what you can and cannot (or should not) do in a legal sense.
Anatomy and Physiology- Everyone in the medical field needs to know something about the human body. After all, it is the business of the human body, so being familiar with it makes you a better, more competent medical assistant.
Office Management- Before you go into medical assisting, realize that sometimes an MA’s job is to pretty much be a glorified secretary. Whether you are or not, you need to understand how an office runs.
Coding and Insurance- As most people are aware, medicine is not usually a cash business. Most people are covered by some sort of insurance that ends up footing the bill. The problem is that the codes they use, the way you have to bill, and all the red tape involved require quite a bit of knowledge. As an MA, you are likely to be one of the people who sends out, receives, or otherwise deals with the bills and so having this knowledge becomes crucial.
Professionalism- If you want to work for a doctor then you better know how to be professional. That really applies to any job, but especially in the medical field where the wrong move could actually hurt someone. That doesn’t mean there can never be any fun or that work has to be boring, but working in an office requires more than a potato factory or convenience store.
Clinical Competency- You are likely to have this “class” throughout your whole program as part of several courses or as at least 2 classes on its own. This is where you learn how to take vital signs, give shots, do first aid and CPR, and everything else that you have to “do,” not just know.
NCCT- Not all states require medical assistants to be certified, but even if your state doesn’t, it’ll be tough to get a job without a certification. Although the NCCT is not the only certification out there, it is generally considered the best. You can only take it three times in your life, so you want to be sure that you pass it the first time to get it out of the way, and not have to pay for it more than once. Wherever you are considering an MA program, make sure that they included training for the NCCT test. Additionally, you will want to prepare on your own. This should include taking at least one full length NCCT practice test. If you pass with at least a 90%, you are good, but regardless, you ought to take as many practice tests as you can.
Externship- Most MA programs have an externship program in which you are able to “practice” what you have learned in a real doctor’s office. It may not be at all what you will end up doing when you get a job, but it not only prepares you to get a job as an MA, but makes you more marketable as you actually have some experience. A lot of times doctors will accept externs because they are looking for employees, so your if you do well as an extern, you may end up working there.