Medical assistants have a crucial role in the healthcare industry. They work alongside physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that patient care is delivered efficiently and effectively.
If you’re planning to pursue a career as a medical assistant, follow some of these tips and best practices to help you excel in this specific field:
1. Get the Right Education and Training
Most medical assistants have a postsecondary certificate or diploma, which typically takes about one year to complete. You can also pursue an associate degree program, which takes two years to complete.
When choosing a program, look for one that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). This ensures the program meets specific standards and will prepare you for the certification exam.
2. Obtain Certification
While certification isn’t needed to work as a medical assistant, it can dramatically improve your job prospects and help you advance in your career. The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), while getting the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential is possible through the American Medical Technologists (AMT).
To obtain certification, you must pass an exam covering various topics, including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and patient care. Additionally, you need to fulfill certain eligibility requirements, such as completing an accredited medical assisting program and having relevant work experience.
3. Develop Your Skills
You need more than just qualifications and certifications to excel as a medical assistant. Some of these specific abilities include the following:
- Communication Skills: As a medical assistant, you must communicate effectively with patients, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. This involves listening actively, speaking clearly and professionally, and writing accurately and comprehensively, among other practices.
- Technical Skills: You’ll need to be proficient in using medical software, electronic health records (EHRs), and other healthcare technology. Learn how to take vital signs, administer injections, and perform additional clinical procedures.
- Organizational Skills: Managing multiple tasks and prioritizing effectively is a must in a busy medical setting. Schedule appointments, maintain patient records, manage inventory, and ensure all necessary supplies and equipment are available.
- Clinical Skills: Medical assistants need to have medical terminology and anatomy, as well as knowledge of common diseases and treatment options. Assist with medical procedures, such as taking blood samples or performing EKGs.
4. Gain Experience
Becoming a competent medical assistant entails gaining hands-on experience in the field. Start by finding an internship or externship, volunteering at a medical facility, or working as a medical assistant in a physician’s office or hospital.
Consider volunteering or completing an externship to gain experience and make connections in the field. The more experience you earn, the more confident and skilled you’ll become as a medical assistant.
5. Keep Learning
The medical field is constantly evolving, and medical assistants need to stay up-to-date with the latest developments. Attend continuing education courses, seminars, and workshops to keep your skills and knowledge current.
Join professional organizations, such as the AAMA or AMT, to access continuing education opportunities and stay connected with other medical assistants in the field.
6. Build Your Network
Networking is key in any field, and the medical field is no exception. Attend industry events, conferences, and meetings to meet other medical assistants, physicians, and healthcare professionals. Become a member of online forums and social media groups to stay connected with others in the field. Building a strong network can lead to job opportunities, mentorship, and valuable connections in the industry.
7. Demonstrate Professionalism
Medical assistants are often patients’ first point of contact, so presenting a professional image is crucial. This includes having a positive attitude, dressing appropriately, being punctual, and maintaining high confidentiality. Be respectful to patients and colleagues, and communicate effectively and clearly. Your professionalism will not only reflect positively on you but also on the healthcare facility you work for.
Being a medical assistant requires a combination of education, training, and personal qualities. It is a rewarding and challenging career that requires a passion for healthcare and a commitment to providing excellent patient care. By following the tips above, you can have the skills and qualities to excel in this field and change the lives of those you serve.
Start your journey as a medical assistant by enrolling at Northwest Suburban College. With our certified dental assistant program and experienced instructors, we can help you acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this field. Call 847-242-2515 to learn more!