A medical assistant (MA) is also called a certified medical assistant (CMA). This professional works with doctors and can handle many administrative and medical duties. A career in medical assisting has great prospects because it can be a stepping stone to greater things later in life.
For people who want to know how to become a medical assistant, there are many paths to a career in this field. One way to get into this field is to study the course in an accredited institution of learning. In most schools, the candidate spends two years to get the certificate but in some institutions, the course takes just one year. The course content usually includes medical terminology, first aid, biology, science and math. The candidate may also take courses in medical billing and anatomy. After completing this program, the candidate is considered an assistant but he or she is not certified yet. To become a CMA, the right step is to take certification exams. This exam is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. The exam is usually offered three times per year and the certificate is meant to be renewed every five years.
At this point, it is important to understand the difference between the MA and the CMA. An assistant who has not been certified is the MA while the certified MA is the CMA. Usually, the CMA’s may have more viable options than the MA’s but both of them are likely to get jobs. In some cases, becoming a CMA may spur the candidate to study for a degree program in the health industry later in life.
As the name implies, the job of the MA is to assist the doctor. For this reason, a truly competent MA should have all the qualities which medical doctors are expected to have. Some of these qualities include diligence, personal hygiene, an eye for detail and the ability to work under pressure.
The typical work schedule of the MA is a 40 hour week and this runs from Monday through Friday. In some cases, the MA may be required to put in extra hours or even work on weekends. This is a lot of work but the good news is that extra work attracts extra pay. The job of the CMA cuts across a variety of tasks and duties. These duties include patient care, medical record-keeping, taking vital signs of patients and recording these signs. Other duties are medical billing, insurance coding, updating charts and filing charts.
The salary of the MA is usually $22,000 to $30,000 annually. There may be additional benefits like health insurance but these extras may depend on the employer. One good thing about being an MA is that there are always job opportunities for qualified people. Again, being a CMA may just be the first step to a career in medicine or pharmacy later in life. Finally, being a CMA or MA is not a dead end. Many people who started out as medical assistants went on to become nurses, pathologists and specialist doctors later in life and this truly a step in the right direction.