When you think of your dream job, what does it entail? Are there opportunities for personal growth and development? Do you feel fulfilled each day? Do you work with people who share the same values and are passionate about helping others? These are the things many people are looking for when they are considering a new career.
Though salary, work conditions, and benefits are important, more people are looking for careers that make a difference in the lives of others. They want to feel good about the work they do and help people along the way. Prospective employees are looking for jobs that align with their values and prioritise the well-being of others. As a result, more people are pursuing a career as a medical assistant.
Medical assistants help others and are critical members of the team in various medical settings. Working alongside nurses and doctors, medical assistants enhance the patient experience and ensure the clinic runs smoothly. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of skill and involves several different responsibilities. Medical assistants aid with both clinical duties as well as administrative tasks. For example, you may greet patients, take vital signs, perform diagnostic tests, and handle laboratory specimens. For administrative responsibilities, you may correspond with insurance companies, maintain patient records, and schedule appointments.
When someone you know is sick, they will likely cross paths with a medical assistant. In fact, a medical assistant may be the first person they see. As a result, a medical assistant’s proficiency and kindness can make a difference in the patient experience. You can help patients feel better, reduce anxiety, and make them feel cared for. You can also help your colleagues like doctors and nurses do their jobs better by preparing paperwork and examination rooms in advance.
If you are passionate about helping others, this is a great career. However, due to the long list of responsibilities, it requires a great deal of training. Your education will prepare you for any potential workplace such as a private clinic or busy hospital, and therefore, you must be comfortable performing numerous responsibilities before you start working. For example, a medical assistant may be required to perform some or all the following responsibilities:
- Registering and speaking with patients
- Administering vaccinations
- Assisting with physical exams
- Recording vital signs
- Changing wound dressings
- Answering clinic telephone, speaking with patients
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Preparing patients for X-rays
- Providing patients with referral information
- Reviewing treatment plans
- Reviewing surgical prep and procedures
- Preparing and cleaning examination rooms
- Sterilising supplies
- Prepping lab samples
- Authorising prescription refills
- Completing laboratory requisitions
- Coordinating doctors’ schedules
- Maintaining patient records
- Filling out insurance documents
- Making specialist referrals
As you can see, medical assistants are involved in several areas, all of which help other people. As a result, each day may look different, and you will need to balance your administrative, clinic, and patient responsibilities while remaining positive and professional.
Many people feel anxious about going to the hospital or doctor. According to Dr Marc Ramano, a psychologist, nurse practitioner, and the assistant told NBC News that: ‘Individuals typically only go to the doctor when they are sick. Therefore, the anxiety people have when they go to the doctor becomes a conditioned response. The association between anxiety and a doctor is one that becomes stronger and stronger each time a person has to go to the doctor.’
This anxiety can be reduced with the right medical professionals, including medical assistants. The doctors, nurses, and medical assistants a patient interacts with can heighten this anxiety or reduce it. By being available to answer questions, help with insurance forms, discuss test results, and complete paperwork, medical assistants, can minimize patient frustrations and anxiety.
To obtain all the skills and knowledge needed to take on this role, you must complete a medical assistant program. Many programs combine in-class learning with hands-on training to better equip you for the demanding role. Classes include medical law, clinical laboratory work, physiology, medical administration, phlebotomy, and diagnostic procedures. Hands-on learning can consist of simulations as well as clinic placements.
For example, at Genesis Career College, a Medical Assistant School in Tennessee, they provide students with real-life experience working in healthcare settings through their externship program. With this externship, students may assist physicians and nurses in hospitals or clinics, strengthening their skills and making meaningful connections in the field.
Working on the front lines, you play a significant role in patient well-being. Often referred to as the “jack of all trades,” more and more clinics and hospitals are hiring medical assistants. The career is incredibly rewarding, as you help patients during some of the most challenging or anxiety-ridden times of their lives. The relationships you form and the critical role you play has a significant impact. As a medical assistant, you are making a difference, not just a living. To pursue this rewarding career, you need to find a school that will adequately prepare you for the role. Therefore, it is important to look for a program like the one offered at Genesis that supplements in-class learning with hands-on training in clinics and hospitals.
Though certification is not required to work as a medical assistant, some employers may request it. You can obtain different medical assistant certifications, which will often require a passing mark on an exam they will administer. Generally, these exams will test you on the knowledge you gained through your programme. When you are a medical assistant, you may find days to be fast-paced and stressful, but you can rest easy knowing you are helping others.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She interested in mental health and well-being.