A career as a medical assistant

A job as a medical assistant is great for someone interested in the field of heathcare but wants to avoid the long amounts of study time

The medical industry is growing because fundamentally our nation’s population is aging, and this older generation requires more care. The Baby Boomer generation drives business, and since they are increasingly worried about their health and independence, they are visiting doctors more often in order to remain active. Longer term, the ramifications of health care reform might also increase the demand for physicians and related staff as a greater number of people has access to insurance. This increased demand for services means a corresponding need for staffing at all levels, from physicians to front-desk workers and medical assistants. For medical assistants, this demand does not mean they can simply walk into an office and get a job. Proper training and commitment will help the potential medical assistant to find the practice.

The old adage of “you need experience to get the job, but can’t get experience without a job” does certainly apply to the medical field. Anyone that is hoping to join the field at the medical assistant level should first find any type of employment within the broader field. This could include answering phones or performing the most basic clerical work in order to see how a typical office functions and the roles each individual plays in the overall success and operational efficiency of the practice. Taking on an entry level role shows employers you are serious about this field and willing to learn the basics before taking on a more involved role. Being involved in the field in any capacity also provides the opportunity to start building a professional network. Many medical assistants also begin their career as a volunteer or as part-time staff. Completing an externship at a school or volunteering gives the beginning assistant a good measure of confidence and can also reinforce if the medical career is right for them longer term.

Employment for medical assistant work is increasingly difficult without certification. It is strongly suggested for those hoping to enter a competitive field to acquire the right training and certification in order to level the field with other applicants. If you attended school for becoming a medical assistant, make sure you take the time to get certified. An organization such as the nonprofit American Medical Technologists offers a variety of certifications including Medical Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Medical Lab Assistants, and Medical Assistants. The National Health Career Association is another group that features the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certification. Certification validates your knowledge and commitment to the profession and shows you’re willing to spend time and money in order to boost your career longer term. In order to stand out as certification becomes more common, some medical assistants are pursuing specialized certification in for example Phlebotomy or ECG. Such certifications show the doctor’s office that you have a deep array of skills and have the willingness to learn advanced tactics. These extra steps can often relate to multiple job offers and higher starting salaries.

In some ways, doctors and office managers think the same as any other employer. They desire employees that are more capable than competitive practices and also have a clear understanding of the organization’s longer-term mission and core values. They want the prospective employee to not only have the right mix of technical and medical skills but also the proper “soft skills” that will allow them to interact with doctors and patients. Patients are more likely to leave their practitioner if the level of service is not ideal, so doctors and office managers understand each patient needs to enjoy an optimal and professional experience. The right training environment can help students develop these soft skills to meet these needs.

Once you have conquered the training and certification pieces and actually get in front of an office manager or doctor, it’s important to know the audience and present yourself with confidence. Don’t be afraid to speak up and promote your accomplishments and enthusiasm for the work. Body language is very important. The doctors want to be sure your bedside manner is sound, so they will be watching your eye contact, tone of voice, and attentiveness to questions. Usage of proper industry terminology is important, and will show the employer that you are properly trained and would be ready to communicate effectively with other staff. Interview basics are vitally important, as you will be interfacing with the public on a daily basis if hired, so the office manager needs to know you are professional. Be sure to bring copies of your transcripts and certification, leave your cell phone at home, and be sure to wear a suit. No one was ever turned down for a job for being overdressed.

Individuals looking to enter the medical job market as medical assistants need to understand while the demand for such services is growing, there is still considerable competition. Medical assistants that take the time to learn the industry from the ground floor and further their education will remain valued employees throughout their careers.