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Top 10 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant in 2018
Why Medical Assisting: The Top 10 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant in 2018
There’s no question: choosing the right career can be a real challenge. You may have heard the old statistic claiming that the average person will change careers seven times throughout the course of their life. In fact, though, this number is continually increasing: at this point, the estimate is that roughly 30% of the workforce actually changes jobs every 12 months. Talk about a lot of career shifts!
Particularly when it comes to a job that requires specialized training and advanced education, it can be difficult to know whether you’re making the right decision when opting to pursue it. What if you go through all that training and put in all those hours at school, only to later decide that it’s not the right job for you? School isn’t just time consuming, it’s also costly. And you can’t just consider the amount of money you’ll spend on school, either: there’s opportunity cost associated with the years you might spend in school rather than on the job somewhere. All of these factors have to be taken into account when choosing a new career.
Perhaps you’re considering a career as a medical assistant, but you’re not sure if it’s the right move for you. Maybe you even need a little convincing in order to take that first step. Well, we’re here to help!
We’ve put together this list of the top 10 reasons to become a medical assistant in 2018. It’s an incredibly rewarding career, but it’s not without its challenges. Plus, you’ll have to pass one of the nationally recognized medical assistant exams before you can actually get started. But, we believe it’s worth the work! In this post, we’ll talk about some of the best aspects of becoming a medical assistant, including the fact that:
- There are lots of jobs available
- You can get started in a short amount of time
- There are multiple options for training
- You’ll gain an education as a licensed tradesperson
- There’s lots of variety available in terms of work environment and responsibilities
- Your job makes a difference
- Long-term career stability
- Pay and hours are predictable
- Health insurance and other benefits are often included
- Continuing education is an option
Before we get started, though, let’s take a moment to address an even bigger picture question: what exactly does a medical assistant do?
What Do Medical Assistants Do?
If you’re completely new to the idea of becoming a medical assistant, you might not be entirely clear on what the job entails. That’s alright, though! Let’s take a moment to answer this question before we go any further.
As a medical assistant, or MA, your primary concern will generally be with patient care. You’ll work right alongside other medical professionals performing a wide variety of job duties. These can include both administrative and clinical duties, such as:
- Using a computer
- Answering phones
- Speaking with and greeting patients
- Taking responsibility for various bookkeeping and administrative tasks
- Taking medical histories from patients
- Administering various tests
- Providing instructions to patients regarding medication, self-care, and more
- Drawing blood from patients
- Removing stitches
- Collecting lab specimens
…and the list goes on! This is just a brief overview of some of the things you can expect to do as a medical assistant. Depending on what sort of office you’re working in and what your specific role is, you can expect duties to be even more varied than this at times.
Now, let’s take a look at the top 10 reasons to become a medical assistant!
Lots of Available Jobs
Simply put, the job outlook for medical assistants is excellent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment numbers for medical assistants are projected to increase at a rate of 29% between 2016 and 2026! That’s a ton of new jobs year after year, and a much faster growth rate than the U.S. national average across all industries.
Much of this expected growth is due to the number of baby boomers who, as they age, will continue to need an increasing amount of medical services. Physicians and nurses can’t handle this patient load on their own, which is where medical assistants come in. With medical assistants on hand, a physician’s office — whether that physician is a general practitioner or a specialist — can see more patients on a day to day basis. Medical assistants are particularly important in a primary care setting, which is where some of the largest baby boomer-related growth will be seen (as more and more aging baby boomers go to see their primary care physician for chronic age-related issues).
To put the numbers fully into perspective, consider this. As of 2016, the number of medical assistants employed nationally was roughly 634,400. By 2026, that number is expected to increase to 818,400. That’s an increase of 184,000. This translates to over 18,000 new positions opening up every year on average! That’s a lot of new jobs! By choosing a career in medical assisting, you can expect it to be easier to find a job than in many other industries.
Get Started Right Away
The above growth statistics are similar across a number of professions in the medical field. But while the health care industry is indeed growing as a whole, you have to consider the amount of education required for many of those jobs. Becoming a doctor or a nurse can take many years in school, particularly if you opt to specialize in something. In fact, some doctors will end up spending as many as 15 years in training between their undergraduate degree, medical schools, residency, and specialist training.
With medical assisting, though, you can gain quick entry into the medical field. Most medical assisting programs can be completed in the space of a single year. Rather than spending many years in medical or nursing school, you can jump into the health care industry quickly as a medical assistant. As you’ll see below, you’ll then have the option of continuing your education and pursuing an even better paying job — all while being reliably and gainfully employed.
Different and Flexible Education Paths
Even with a shorter path from start to finish, going to school for a new career can often be quite challenging. Particularly when you’re already working another job, the prospect of starting a full-time educational program might feel overwhelming. Where will you find the time to go to class and study for tests when you’re already balancing another job, a personal life, and possibly even a family at home?
One of the best things about going to school for medical assisting is the sheer amount of flexibility available. Depending on where you’re located, there may be options at local community colleges that include evening classes and part-time certification paths. If there isn’t a school in your town that offers a medical assisting program, you may be able to find a hybrid program with a number of online courses, thus reducing the total number of hours that you have to spend traveling to and from school (and in the classroom).
A Quality, Valuable Education
When you go to school to become a medical assistant, you won’t just leave school with a degree. On top of your certificate, you’ll also likely want to sit for one of the national medical assistant exams. These include the:
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam
- American Medical Technologists (AMT) Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam
- National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA) Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam
Once you’ve passed one of these exams, you’ll have demonstrated your overall competence as a medical assistant. This is extremely valuable to future employers, as it shows them that you’ve obtained mastery over the skills necessary to become a valuable member of their team. You can carry this credential along with you for years, and sit for a recertification exam when the time comes.
A Variety of Working Environments and Dynamic Work
We’ve all had a dull, boring job at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s the environment that’s the problem: you’re in the same room day after day, working on your own and having little contact with others. Or, perhaps it’s the work itself that’s particularly repetitive and uninteresting.
When it comes to both work environment and the actually responsibilities that accompany the job, though, medical assisting is incredibly varied, dynamic, and stimulating. There are all sorts of different working environments available to you: you can choose to work in a medical hospital, a surgical ward, an emergency room, a family or specialty physician’s office, or any number of other settings.
As we mentioned above, the tasks that a medical assistant will tend to be responsible for are also different from moment to moment and day to day. You might spend part of your day working with patients, taking vital signs, discussing patients’ histories, and collecting lab specimens. Later, you could be tasked with administrative work, recordkeeping, and other computer tasks. There’s one thing that you can count on, though: working as a medical assistant will never be dull!
A Job that Makes a Difference
It’s not always possible to be able to claim that your job has a significant impact on people’s lives. Sure, many jobs do indeed involve interacting with the public. But, taking someone’s lunch order or making their coffee isn’t necessarily going to have a lasting effect on them.
With health care, though, things are different. When someone seeks out medical attention, it’s often because they’re in a very difficult situation. Going through a personal health crisis can be extremely stressful. Whether an issue is chronic or acute, attempting to navigate a health problem can become a major part of someone’s daily lived experience.
When you work as a medical assistant, you’ll have the opportunity each and every day to change people’s lives. You’ll likely spend a large amount of your time interacting directly with patients, which means there are lots of chances to have an impact. Whether you’re taking someone’s history, advising them regarding a medication, or drawing blood, you’ll get the opportunity to make them feel a little better, hear them out, and reassure them that things are going to be alright. When a patient tells you how helpful you’ve been and how much they appreciate you, it’s a reminder of just how important your job really is.
Long-term Career Stability
It’s not just that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the need for medical assistants to continue to increase over the course of the next 1 0years. Beyond that, the fact is that there will always be a need for medical assistants. As more and more physician’s offices and other facilities begin to adopt year-round, 24/7 care models, medical assistants will become increasingly important. The health care industry will only continue to grow into the foreseeable future, and medical assistants are bound to be an important part of that growth.
Predictable Hours and Pay
While there are a lot of desirable jobs in the medical industry when it comes to pay, many of these positions often involve long, irregular working hours. Nurses often report that their hours are different to balance with family life, and being an on-call physician takes it toll over time.
As a medical assistant, though, you can generally count on both predictable hours and reliable pay. It’s not unusual for a medical assistant to work a typical 9-5 type of schedule in a medical clinic, and to earn as much as $48,000 per year in some states.
Health Insurance and Benefits
Not all jobs include health insurance and benefits. There’s no question, though, that choosing a career which includes both is incredibly important.
In 2016, a survey conducted by the American Association of Medical Assistants showed encouraging results in this department. According to the survey, more than three out of four medical assistants was receiving general medical coverage and dental coverage. Nearly as many had vision coverage as well
Continuing Education and Career Advancement
As we already mentioned, becoming a medical assistant doesn’t take a massive amount of time: you’ll just need to complete roughly one year of school and pass a medical assistant exam to get started.
Once you’ve taken those initial steps, though, you don’t have to stop there with your education. Indeed, it’s possible to use medical assisting as a stepping stone to further career advancement. Many medical assistants go on to attend nursing school and become RNs. As an RN, you can expect better pay and greater responsibilities. From there, you might choose to become a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant, or even a medical doctor. As an MA, you’ll get a chance to experience the medical field first hand, which is a great way to decide if you want to pursue a more advanced education and continue within the field.
Studying for a Medical Assistant Exam
There’s no doubt that there are lots of great reasons to become a medical assistant. Once you’ve completed school, though, you’ll need to pass a medical assistant exam before you can get started with your new career. But don’t worry: ScopeNotes™ is here to help! ScopeNotes offers some of the highest quality and most affordably priced study resource and medical assistant practice tests available anywhere. Click here to learn more!