A medical assistant is health care professional who works alongside physicians in healthcare settings. According to The American Associational of Medical Assistants, medical assistants are essential members of the patient-centered medical home team (PCMH) and are often the first individuals a patient will encounter during their visit.
A versatile addition to any healthcare team, medical assistants are cross trained to perform both administrative and clinical duties in the field.
In terms of patient care, medical assistants primarily function as a liaison and help patients feel at ease in the office while helping to explain treatment procedures and preparing them for examinations with their doctor. While medical assistants cannot give medical advice and treatment on their own, they can assist the physician during examinations, collect and prepare laboratory specimens and prepare and administer medications.
Many medical assistants are also well-versed in administrative duties. This includes welcoming patients, updating and filing medical records, arranging for laboratory services, scheduling appointments and more. They may also manage billing, bookkeeping and other correspondence responsibilities in a healthcare office.
Medical assistant jobs are available in a number of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, dental offices, nursing homes and physical therapy clinics.
Medical Assistant Salaries
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assisting is one of the fastest growing careers in the nation. In fact, it is expected that medical assistant employment will grow 18 percent between the year 2020 and 2030. As of May 2022, the average medical assistant salary in the United States is $37,914.
The Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) is the only independent community hospital in the Baltimore area and was recently named the “Best Hospital” by the Baltimore Sun. There are several medical assistant jobs in Baltimore, MD available now at this top ranked hospital.
DocGo is often seeking to fill traveling medical assistant jobs in hospitals and clinics around the country.
Advocate Aurora Health is one of the top 10 health systems in the country and serves the greater Chicago area. Several opportunities are available for medical assistants at this clinic, including assistants to work in their pediatrics department.
Training and Requirements
Medical assistants must be trained in the field through accredited programs that range between 10 months and two-years. Those interested in a medical assistant career can find programs through vocational schools, universities and junior colleges. In order to enroll in these programs, prospective students must have a high school diploma or have completed their GED.
Typically, these medical assistant programs are divided into three segments:
Clinical- The clinical portion of the medical assistant training process focuses on what happens in the exam room. Medical assistants will learn how to check vital signs, draw blood and update medical histories.
Administrative- This portion of a medical assistant’s education focuses on handling day-to-day activities in a medical office. During this training, students learn how to communicate with patients, file medical charts and code and complete insurance forms.
Externship- Medical assistants will utilize what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in the field by working in a medical setting for a portion of their program.
While a medical assistant doesn’t need a certification to work in the healthcare field, some states require different credentials for medical assistants to perform certain tasks.
There are five primary certifications for medical assistants that are approved by the Commission for Certifying Agencies, including:
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from the National Healthcareer Association
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from American Medical Technologists
National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from the National Healthcareer Association
While medical assistants aren’t required to have these certifications to work, certain certifications can expand their future career options in this field.