Most people dream of pursuing careers in medical assisting but have many unanswered questions standing in their way. You’re probably wondering what degree is needed to become a medical assistant, what medical assistants do or whether it’s a path worth venturing into. These are all valid questions. We’ve compiled this guide to address the frequently asked questions and help you make an informed decision.
What Is a Medical Assisting Degree?
A medical assisting associate degree and certificate prepare a student for a career in the health care industry, specifically as a medical assistant.
There is a difference between an associate degree and a certificate in medical assisting. An associate degree is an undergraduate degree that equips students with the academic qualification to pursue their medical assisting careers. A medical assistant certificate is a credential a student can earn after completing the required training and fieldwork and taking a certification exam.
There are several certifications you can get, including:
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant — National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Registered Medical Assistant — American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Certified Medical Assistant — National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
What Is a Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant is a professional who works alongside physicians, primarily in outpatient and ambulatory care settings, such as clinics and medical offices.
As a medical assistant, you may perform clinical and administrative functions. Examples of clinical duties include:
- Collecting medical history
- Taking and preparing laboratory specimens
- Preparing patients for medical examination
- Assisting physicians during medical examinations
- Explaining treatment procedures to patients
- Instructing patients about special diets and medication
Examples of a medical assistant’s administrative duties include the following:
- Answering telephone calls
- Handling correspondence
- Filing and updating patient medical records
- Coding and filling out insurance forms
- Scheduling appointments
- Billing and bookkeeping
- Arranging for laboratory services and hospital admissions
What Jobs Can You Get as a Medical Assistant?
There are several fulfilling jobs you can do with a medical assistant degree, like:
1. Medical Office Assistant
Medical office assistants ensure the offices within clinics and other health care facilities are well-run. Typically, the medical office assistant works behind the desk and performs standard administrative duties such as accounting, scheduling and billing. Your responsibilities may vary depending on the size and specialization of the facility where you work.
2. Medical Clerk
Medical clerks work at a doctor’s office, hospital or other medical facilities. They assist nurses with forms and paperwork and collect patient information. Medical clerks also organize, manage, conduct data entry, file documents and assist with internal audits.
3. Medical Claims Examiner
Medical claims examiners work with insurance companies and clients to resolve claims. They determine insurance coverage and use their expertise in medical practice to ensure accurate reporting of medical claims. Depending on the examination result, they may also be responsible for further investigations.
4. Patient Services Representative
Patient services representatives are usually the first point of contact for patients who visit medical facilities. They attend to the patients, listen to their concerns and collect information. They also schedule patient appointments and make reminder calls to inform patients about delays or wait times. Patient services representatives work collaboratively to ensure patients receive optimal services.
5. Patient Care Technician
Patient care technicians are medical professionals that work with and under the supervision of nurses, doctors and other medical specialists to provide care to patients during medical visits and hospital stays. They are responsible for performing routine tests such as blood pressure and heart rate checks and assisting patients with daily tasks. Patient care technicians also perform some administrative tasks like patient record updates.
6. Medical Records Specialist
The job of a medical records specialist is to organize patient and company information stored in online databases and physical files. They ensure the data is constantly updated and accurate. Other important duties include ensuring private medical information is kept safe and confidential and assisting other medical officials to access the records.
What Is the Average Salary for a Medical Assistant in MA?
The average pay for a medical assistant in Massachusetts is $43,432. New workers may earn around $36,203, while experienced workers can earn up to $52,338. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary for a medical assistant is $38,190.
Is a Medical Assisting Degree Worth It?
There a various reasons why medical assistant is an excellent career choice. Here are five examples:
One. High Demand
Medical assisting is one of the fastest-growing careers in the U.S., with about 123,000 job openings projected each year. The BLS projects a 16% growth rate from 2021 to 2031, the fastest average compared to all other health care support occupations. The advantages of an in-demand career are many, including potentially higher pay, job security and more career opportunities and alternatives.
2. Shorter Training Period
The training periods for becoming a medical assistant are shorter than other careers. Although equally demanding, the duration of acquiring an associate degree is relatively short, allowing you to start working earlier in your career.
3. Less Requirements for Entering the Career
The academic and professional requirements for a medical assistant career are relatively straightforward. You can earn a role in the industry with your associate degree supplemented with the proper certifications.
4. Opportunity to Work in Various Settings
A variety of work environments need medical assistants. You can work in hospital-based clinics, public health agencies, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, rehabilitation centers and more. Having numerous options enables you to find the best fit.
5. Flexible Work Schedule
You may have a flexible schedule depending on where you work. The establishment may limit time slots to either weekdays or weekends and allow you to choose early morning, night or weekend shifts. That way, you can maintain a good work-life balance.
Join Mount Wachusett Community College Today!
The Mount is dedicated to helping students build robust academic foundations and successful careers. Our medical assistant program, which ranks fifth in Massachusetts, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) to provide associate degree and medical assisting certificate programs. MWCC’s transfer agreements with many Massachusetts colleges allow you to easily transfer your earned credits toward a bachelor’s degree and beyond.
Request more information and join us today!