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Medical Administrative Assistant

   

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Why Should I Become a Medical Administrative Assistant?

Employment of medical administrative assistants is was projected to grow 35 percent from 2006 to 2016, making this field one of the fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although some medical assistants learn on the job, getting formal training and certification can boost your employment prospects.

Why Is There a Need for More Medical Assistants?
What's behind the growth in medical jobs? The U.S. population is aging, and more people are living into their 80s, 90s, and even over 100. The elderly population is expected to more than double to over 70 million between 2000 and 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That growth is due to the fact that the baby-boomer generation will enter their elderly years between 2010 to 2030. All of these aging folks mean that more healthcare workers are needed to care for them.

What Do Medical Administrative Assistants Do?
As a medical assistant you help keep the offices of physicians, chiropractors, and other health providers running smoothly. Administrative and clinical tasks vary based upon the type of medical practice. Potential administrative duties include:

  • Updating patients' medical records
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Arranging hospital admissions
  • Scheduling laboratory tests
  • Answering phones
  • Greeting patients
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Billing and bookkeeping
  • Purchasing supplies

This isn't just a desk job, though. Clinical duties you may be expected to handle include:

  • Taking medical histories
  • Recording patients' vital signs
  • Explaining treatments and procedures
  • Preparing folks for their exams
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Sterilize medical instruments
  • Prepare patients for x-rays
  • Preparing and administering medications

Some medical assistants also draw blood or take electrocardiograms.

Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
You'll find medical assistants in a variety of medical offices and clinics. About 62 percent of them work in physicians' offices and 12 percent work in public and private hospitals, according to the BLS. Other medical administrative assistants find jobs in inpatient and outpatient facilities, nursing care facilities, or with specialty doctors, like podiatrists or optometrists. While many medical assistants work full-time, there are opportunities for part-time work on weekends or in the evenings. Flexible schedules make this a good career choice for parents who care for children during the week or folks who don't want to work full time.

How Do You Become a Medical Administrative Assistant?
You can earn a medical assistant certificate or diploma in a year, or get an associate degree after a two-year program. Medical administrative assistant programs can be found in vocational-technical high schools, post-secondary vocational schools, and community colleges. You'll take courses like:

  • Anatomy
  • Medical terminology
  • Record keeping
  • Accounting
  • Insurance processing
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Medical law
  • Patient relations

Medical assistants' median annual earnings were $28,030 in 2008, according to the BLS. Those who work in hospitals tend to have higher earnings, while those in optometrists' and chiropractors' offices are on the lower end of the pay scale.