The employment outlook for medical assistants is very positive.
Medical Assistant employment opportunities will continue to increase as the demographic relying on their services continues to grow.
With the aging baby boomer population, this growth is projected to continue for the foreseeable future.
This article discusses the employment options and career prospects for a medical assistant.
And not all of them revolve around baby boomers. Medical assistants work in many places with many different types of patients.
So without further ado, let’s get the full scoop on the employment outlook for medical assistants.
What Does A Medical Assistant Do?
A skilled medical assistant employed at a reasonably large scale health establishment performs several front offices and back office tasks.
In the front office’s administrative and reception area, a medical assistant would be busy welcoming patients, answering their queries and locating their files and medical histories, apart from several other tasks.
At the back office, a medical assistant would be required to collect patient’s health information and record it, check and record their vital signs, prepare patients for physical exams, organize and review medical record and charts, answer phones, take care of patient’s concerns, communicate patient’s status or readiness to the medical staff and much more.
Medical assistants assist doctors during their daily rounds and are also responsible for closing the office at the end of the workday.
One common task of all medical assistants is to educate a patient on medical treatments and procedures such as prescriptions, diet, preparing and taking medicines, preparing the patient for X-Ray, ultrasound and other technical procedures.
Medical assistants are trained to perform administrative and clinical duties in order to smoothly maintain the offices of different kinds of medical professionals such as podiatrists, physicians, chiropractors, and so on.
A medical assistant’s duties may vary depending on the size of the doctor’s practice, the practitioner’s specialty and location of the practice.
A medical assistant’s role and job profile and also employment prospects are influenced by their area of specialization.
Administrative Medical Assistant
An administrative medical assistant will not talk to a patient and take their history and data personally.
They will be given the histories and records to file and prepare folders for each patient for ready and easy reference.
They also fill out insurance forms and arrange for patient’s admission to hospital and laboratory services.
Administrative medical assistants also answer phones, update patient’s schedules, keep the doctors and medical staff updated on upcoming schedules, greet patients, handle hospital correspondence, schedule patient appointments and manage the bookkeeping and billing for the hospital.
At a large hospital, each large department would require an administrative medical assistant to handle the numerous administrative and secretarial tasks that require specific knowledge of patient handling and medicine.
Clinical Medical Assistant
These medical assistants perform different duties as allowed by the law in the State where they are employed.
Some of the common duties include checking patients’ vital signs such as blood pressure, height, weight, pulse, and heart rate and making a record of them. They also explain treatment and surgical procedures to patients and prepare them for examinations and laboratory procedures.
Clinical MAs assist physicians during patient examinations by making the patient comfortable, taking blood samples, and administering drugs and so on.
These clinical medical assistants are responsible for collecting and preparing laboratory specimens and also to at times perform basic laboratory tests.
They are also in charge of disposing of contaminated supplies and sterilizing medical instruments before and after use.
Under the expert guidance of a doctor, they might be allowed to instruct patients on how to take their medicines and what specific diets to follow.
A clinical medical assistant can prepare and administer medicines, authorize refilling of drugs for a patient, communicate a patient’s prescriptions to a pharmacy, take blood samples, and so on.
Clinical assistants who are trained or are experienced to operate machinery and also prepare patients for X-Rays, remove sutures, take electrocardiograms, give injections and change medical dressings.
Medical assistants also arrange instruments and equipment for an examination; they also purchase and maintain medical supplies and equipment and so on.
To Whom Does The Medical Assistant Report?
In a relatively small clinic, a medical assistant reports directly to the office manager, doctor or other supervising authority in the clinic.
Medical assistants employed in large health establishments are required to specialize in specific areas of medicine and therefore come under the direct supervision of department administrators.
Apart from medical assistants, hospitals also employ physician assistants, who directly test, diagnose, and provide treatment to patients under the supervision of a doctor.
How Important is a Medical Assistant To Healthcare?
Medical assistants are the perfect addition to a medical office. They add real value to a medical professional’s practice or to a hospital.
They are one of the most critical roles in allied healthcare which is a field growing in importance.
How important do you think this medical assistant helping rush a patient in the ER department is?
The caring attitude and professionalism exhibited by trained and skilled medical assistant make a real difference in the lives of patients and staff alike.
Today, medical assistants are found both in large and small medical establishments, small clinics, and ambulatory clinics.
In all these places they assist the doctor and other medics, interact directly with patients and work in coordination with the medical office staff.
Medical assistants keep a busy medic’s practice on track.
Hospitals hire these professionals to staff their outpatient clinics; they are considered part of a diverse health care team that is well organized.
The medical assistant’s career provides several avenues on which a solid future can be built.
Personal Attributes of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants play a vital role in creating and maintaining a professional image for their employers.
They must possess a variety of attributes in order to successfully meet the challenges of their role that include:
- Tact and diplomacy
- Detail oriented
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- High moral and ethical standards
- Team player
Increased Need for Medical Assistants
With the growing population and advances in medical tech, there has been unprecedented expansion in the healthcare industry as well.
This results in a greater demand for all kinds of medical professionals and healthcare workers.
The increase in lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes also contribute to this demand for healthcare services and therefore, medical assistants.
Doctors and nurses increasingly find themselves without time to deal with basic administrative and clinical processes and require qualified, trained and skilled personnel who can be relied on to take care of these duties for them.
Employing trained medical assistants allows doctors more time to care for patients. This again leads to better healthcare services and creates greater employment prospects for medical assistant.
Scope of Employment For A Medical Assistant
Each medical assistant position includes different responsibilities.
For example, a podiatrist’s medical assistant has to assist in surgical procedures, take X-Rays, and measure podiatric aids and prosthetics.
An ophthalmic medical assistant is expected to help the ophthalmologist to provide eye care to patients.
Here, the assistant’s duties may include using sophisticated eye testing machinery to test the patient’s eyes and preparing the report.
This work will require the medical assistant to be conversant with eye power ranges, eye issues, and diseases and irregularities.
They also help the patient select the right lenses and help out with lens power and train people how to place contact lenses.
The medical assistant has to flag irregularities and bring them to the notice of the ophthalmologist immediately.
Expert medical assistants also administer eye drops and eye medication. This is a critical area of work that requires a skilled and experienced medical assistant.
Medical Assistant Career Growth Prospects
Employment growth for medical assistants is high in the coming years. Through 2026, employment has been projected as being higher than average, thereby ranking medical assistants as one among the fastest growing careers.
Job prospects for all trained and certified medical assistants will be excellent in almost all healthcare sectors.
Presently, close to 62% of medical assistants work physician’s offices. There are several non-certified medical assistants around and some have only been trained on the job.
However, with growing awareness and the increased demand and competition, most of these medical assistants are heading back to school and certification programs.
Current Medical Assistant Career Trends
For those thinking about medical assisting as a career move, it’s best to watch the trends and examine closely the information sources that could affect your future.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) is a definitive source of information with valuable insights about medical assistant earning potentials, related occupations and additional sources of information.
For the medical assistant profession, employment opportunities are expected to grow 34 percent through 2026, which is above the average for all occupations.
This makes sense!
Why? Because technological advances, ever onward, continue to keep pace with the population growth and aging of the population.
Everything in healthcare is advancing from insurance technology to medical technology.
Therefore, it stands to reason there will be a need for qualified medical assistants and healthcare workers in general.
Elements helping to drive the need for qualified healthcare workers also include an increasing number of clinics, healthcare facilities, and healthcare group practices.
Primary care is also an area where demand is increasing for talented medical assistants. This is good news indeed for the eager jobseeker.
21st Century Technology Impacts Healthcare Jobs
Healthcare professionals, in particular, have a keen understanding of how much technology has become an integral part of every medical field.
Healthcare professionals are expected to participate in updating records, entering data and communicating via present communications technology.
It is critical that professionals have access to the information and files for patients, doctors, and healthcare administrators to keep healthcare operations running smoothing and efficiently.
As a result, more advanced applications are being developed for healthcare professionals. Being up on the latest technological advancements allows healthcare professionals to perform their jobs effectively.
Career Training Schools Contribute
Today’s employers seek medical assistant job candidates with certifications, diplomas or associate degrees due to the skills gained by these candidates and the confidence they can bring to the job on day one.
Attending a four-year institution after graduating from high school is not always an option for everyone.
Higher education is never a bad plan, but conventional colleges and universities are not the only options.
Career training schools are able to offer benefits that a four-year school cannot. Job placement, a hallmark of many career training schools is not normally offered by a four-year institution.
Graduates from the four-year school may not be prepared for what a particular career will really be like.
Over to You
As you can see, the employment outlook for medical assistants is incredible for 2019 through 2026 and likely beyond.
The baby boomer population is aging and requiring more health care services, increasing the demand for MAs and creating security and job opportunities.
Medical technology is advancing also creating opportunities for medical assistants and a variety of specialization options.
So, with the positive employment outlook for medical assistants, it is time to enroll in a medical assisting program and begin your career.