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Medical Assistant

Medical assistant is projected to be one of the fastest-growing careers over the next few years. To maximize your job options, you should enroll in a one to two year degree program at a medical assistant school. Medical assistant training consists of science and medical coursework such as biology, human anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology, as well as administrative coursework in topics like typing, accounting and record keeping. You can choose from an online degree program with flexible scheduling, or an on-campus program that allows face-to-face meetings with your professor and fellow classmates. A career as a medical assistant requires you perform a range of office management and clinical duties. If you are a person who thrives on variety, a career as a medical assistant could be a perfect choice.

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What do medical assistant jobs entail? Those who work in medical assistant careers have varied duties. In general however, medical assistants are the ones who perform the administrative and clinical jobs in the offices of doctors and dentists. If clerical work in a health care related industry appeals to you, medical assistant jobs may be what you are looking for.

Those who perform jobs as medical assistants answer phones, greet patients, update and file patient records, fill out insurance forms, deal with correspondence, arrange hospital admissions, order lab services and handle the accounting and billing. These are the skills one learns in medical assistant schools.

The medical assistant training required in order to qualify for these jobs may vary from one state to another. Working in medical assistant jobs may involve recording vital signs (such as pulse and blood pressure), explaining treatment options and assisting the physician or dentist during the appointment. Medical assistant careers often involve the collection and preparation of specimens, administering medications and authorizing drug refills. A medical assistant education often includes instruction on how to prepare patients for an x-ray, take EKGs, remove sutures and change dressings.

Medical assistant careers are available in specialized fields such as ophthalmology and podiatry. Those with medical assistant jobs in ophthalmologic practices assist in providing eye care. Medical assistant training in this area includes how to conduct diagnostic tests, and how to measure and record eye function as well as testing eye muscle function. At medical assistant schools, you'll learn the correct procedures in the application of eye dressings, and how to instruct eye patients in how to use and care for contact lenses. Medical assistant careers in podiatry provide the opportunity to make foot castings, develop foot x-rays and even assist podiatrists in actual surgery.

As with many careers in health care, medical assistant training runs approximately two years. Some medical assistant training actually happens on the job, but more often, some formal education in one of the nation's medical assistant schools is necessary. Fortunately, there are nearly 700 fully-accredited medical assistant education programs available across the country, both online and through traditional college and university programs.

The outlook for medical assistant careers is a positive one. Due largely to advances in medical technology and an aging American population, the need for qualified medical assistants is expected to grow much faster than average in the coming decade.

What can you expect to earn working jobs in medical assisting? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median income for medical assistants is approximately $27,400 per year. Starting salaries are around $18,100; in some areas of the country, experienced workers in medical assistant jobs earn up to $35,000 per year.