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Is Medical Assistant a Good Career Choice?

medical assistant careerJob outlook, working conditions, and pay are important things to consider when choosing a career

Are you thinking about attending a career school? One of the popular programs at many career schools is the medical assistant program. If you are considering this career, you might want to ask: is medical assistant a good career choice for you? Here are some of the topics you might want to think about.

What qualities make a good medical assistant?

This career field is all about working with patients, and serving as a link between patients, nurses, and doctors. Compassion, patience, and the desire to help others are all good personality traits if you are considering this career. It is also important to have good attention to detail, strong communications skills, and up-to-date computer skills.

Is medical assistant a good career choice for today’s job market?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook,  “Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.” The average for other occupations listed in the handbook is 11%. The handbook attributes this projected growth to a few trends:

  • The growth of the aging baby-boomer population will increase the demand for more medical services.*
  • Primary care is a steadily growing sector of the healthcare industry, and primary care is where most medical assistants work.*
  • Federal legislation should expand the number of people who have access to health care, which may lead to increases job growth in the healthcare industry and the need for more support workers.*

For more information about the job outlook, visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

What do medical assistants do?

If you are going to picture yourself in a new career, it helps to know what kinds of tasks you would be expected to do. Medical assistants typically help with both administrative tasks and clinical tasks within doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities. The duties vary, depending on the job, but some of the tasks might include: taking a patient’s history; measuring vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, and weight; giving injections; preparing specimens for laboratory testing; and schedule appointments.

What are the working conditions like for medical assistants?

Most people in this field work in medical offices or other healthcare settings. The work environment is typically professional, well-lit, and clean. Most medical assistants wear scrubs to work, and most spend much of the day on their feet.

The hours can vary. Most positions are full-time and hours can sometimes include evening and weekends. Some medical assistant work shifts if they work in medical facilities that are open 24 hours a day, such as hospitals.

What kind of training or education is necessary?

Training requirements vary, depending on the employer. Many medical assistants have completed programs at a postsecondary institution such as a career school or a community college. Others may find work with a high school diploma and learn the job through on-the-job training.

At most career schools, the training programs to become a medical assistant can be accomplished in about one year. Some people go on to study for a certification exam to help improve their credentials. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs that result in an associate’s degree. All programs emphasize anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and the clinical procedures that you will need to know for the job.

How much do medical assistants get paid?

Wages for medical assistant can vary, based on your years of experience, your geographical location, and the particular facility where you work. The Occupational Outlook Handbook describes the median annual wage of medical assistants in the U.S. Be sure to read through this information when you are making a decision about your career choice.

As with any new career, your wages can improve with time and good performance. In addition, many medical assistants use this position as a stepping stone to get started in the healthcare industry, and later decide to pursue additional training to become a nurse, office manager, or other position in the industry.

We hope this article has helped you determine whether medical assistant is a good career choice for you.

*Data from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook