Tips for becoming a medical assistant
Like any given career path, becoming a certified medical assistant can be a deeply exciting process for the right type of person. The prospect of dealing with new situations each day, working around intelligent and interesting people and truly making a difference in the medical community are all attractive factors.
Still, like anything worth having, becoming a medical assistant doesn’t come without its fair share of hard work and dedication.
If you’re considering entering the field and have a passion for medical work, but don’t necessarily know how to begin and how to give yourself an edge, check out these tips:
Receive a good education
The foundation of ability in many different instances is education. More clearly, to get through any sort of career path, the odds are decent that you’re going to need a strong schooling. In the case of those aspiring to be certified medical assistants, this couldn’t be any more true.
Regardless of your existing level of education, you should be able to earn your medical assistant certification in only a couple years. During that time, you’ll be exposed to both hands-on training as well as a diverse array of coursework that will prepare you to enter the workforce not only as a medical assistant, but also as a professional. Plus, you should be able to see some degree of reward immediately following your education.
While employment can’t be guaranteed in any career path, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has indicated that the field will grow by as much as 22 percent in the next decade.1
Be open to flexibility in scheduling
As students, when we imagine employed life, it tends to come with a vision of forty hour weeks spent in an office or professional setting, accented by lunch breaks and a daily commute. While there is certainly some variance among medical assistant jobs, many positions will, in fact, follow something close to this schedule.
According to Health Careers, the average medical assistant will end up working nearly 40 hours a week, but it’s important to remember that flexibility is always a benefit in the eyes of employers, particularly smaller ones.2 For example, many hospitals, private practices and medical facilities that are earlier in their professional growth will have a smaller operating staff, and thereby have greater call for a night roster.
While it may not be the most desirable lifestyle for someone just finishing their education, flexibility and openness towards this sort of arrangement can greatly boost your chances of finding employment very quickly. With that said, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to find medical assistant work during normal hours of the day.
Stay current and continue your education
All good students understand that we don’t stop learning when we graduate. In fact, many would refer to commencement as the beginning of a lifelong journey through education. As you enter the professional world as a medical assistant, it’s crucial that you maintain an interest in staying current and continuing your education.
The looming implementation of ICD-10 is a prime example of the importance of staying up to date in the medical industry. When you become a medical assistant, converse regularly with those whom you are assisting about ways in which you can become more involved in the practice. This, paired with a keen eye for medical news and perhaps some level of continuing education, can make all the difference in your career.
1) Press Release, United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical Assistants’, 1/8/14 http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
2) Santiago, Andrea, About Careers: Health Careers, ‘How to Become a Medical Assistant’, 2014, http://healthcareers.about.com/od/healthcareerprofiles/p/MedAssist.htm