What Jobs Can I Get with a Medical Assisting Degree?
Updated By Staff Writer on March 31, 2020
Medical assistants are an integral part of any healthcare practice, whether in a hospital, clinic, or assisted living center. That’s because the information a medical assistant gathers from patients enables doctors to make sound decisions that directly affect everyone who comes through the doors.
The demand for medical assistants1 is high and getting higher every day. This is great news for soon-to-be graduates entering the job market. So how do you get in on the action? Enrolling in a Medical Assisting Associate’s Degree program is the first step. Then, pursue a position at one of the many employers looking to fill their positions and you’re all set!
While all this sounds great, you’ll definitely want more information before you jump right in. That’s why we’ve gathered some important details on medical assisting careers (work environment, job responsibilities, etc.), interesting data regarding employment prospects, and a description of what getting your degree would entail.
With all your new knowledge, you may realize that medical assisting just may be the promising career path that you want to follow.
Medical Assisting Careers
A medical assistant is often the first healthcare professional you will see upon arriving at a doctor’s office or healthcare practice. Under the supervision of a physician, the medical assistant will take you from the waiting room into the exam room, take your vital signs, and perform a few other key tasks before the doctor sees you.
These are the basics, but there are a few other things you should know about this fulfilling profession.
In some doctor’s offices there may be two different types of medical assistants:
- A clinical medical assistant works alongside physicians to provide patient care.
- An administrative medical assistant works in the office of a practice or hospital.
Although, there are many cases where one individual may attend to both functions. Additionally, there are many healthcare specialties that require the aid of a medical assistant. Here are just a few fascinating options for specialization:
- Allergy and Immunology
- Emergency Medicine
- Neurology (brain)
- Obstetrics (pregnancy)
- Oncology (tumors and cancer)
- Ophthalmic or Optometric (eyes)
- Pediatric (children)
- Podiatric (feet)
- Psychiatry (mental health)
- Sports Medicine
There really is no end to the options medical assistants have when it comes to the type of practice they work in as well as the type of facility, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the facilities that employ the most medical assistants are doctors’ offices at 57%, followed by hospitals at 15%.2
No matter where a medical assistant is employed, the work schedule is generally a typical work week, with the possibility of some weekend or holiday hours.
The range of medical assistant responsibilities varies slightly depending on the type and size of the facility or practice you are working in, but many of the duties remain the same no matter where you work. As medical assistants, you may:
- Greet patients in person and over the phone.
- Schedule appointments.
- Maintain exam rooms.
- Dispose of contaminated supplies and sterilize medical instruments.
- Verify personal information and take medical histories.
- Measure vital signs (height and weight, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, etc.).
- Take blood and other samples and prepare them for lab testing.
- Give injections or medications as permitted.
- Remove stitches and change dressings.
- Instruct on medication or special diets.
- Prepare patient for x-rays.
- Assist doctors with examinations.
- Assemble and send bills and other correspondence.
- Fill out insurance forms or code medical information.
- Assist in other administrative and clinical tasks, depending on specialty.
Medical Assisting Employment Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.”3 This massive growth is due to the aging baby boomer population and the increase in demand for medical services.
What does this mean for you? It means there are jobs available as a medical assistant. Even a quick online job search will turn up hundreds of jobs in every state.
What It Takes to Be a Successful Medical Assistant
To be successful as a medical assistant, there are certain qualities you should possess. The ability to analyze will help you decipher medical charts and medical codes. Being detail oriented will help you when taking vital signs and recording patient information. Having good interpersonal skills will help you connect with your patients and work well with physicians. Having some technical skills will help you use clinical instruments correctly.
Since a medical assistant is privy to a lot of confidential information, they must be trustworthy, and able to keep patient privacy in mind at all times.
Description of a Medical Assisting Associate’s Degree
An Associate’s degree in medical assisting will give you the training you need to be able to enter the medical assisting field highly qualified and confident for anything any patient or employer may throw at you.
What, specifically, will you learn in pursuit of your degree? You will learn how to:
- Complete patient histories.
- Take and measure vital signs.
- Give injections.
- Perform basic laboratory procedures.
- Complete general medical office procedures.
- Demonstrate telephone and communication skills.
You will also learn many things relating to healthcare during your time in the program by taking several required courses. Here is just a sampling of the classes you would take:
- First Aid Training
- Community First Aid and Safety
- Pharmacology (classifying, measuring, dosing, and administering medications)
- Medical Terminology, Law, and Ethics
- Medical Records and Computerized Administration
- Insurance Specialist
- Healthcare Calculations and Accounting
- Skeletal and Muscular Systems
- Cardiac and Respiratory Systems
- Lymphatic, Immune, and Endocrine Systems
- Digestive, Reproductive, and Urinary Systems
After you complete your coursework, you’ll complete an externship at an approved location before you graduate. This will give you exposure working with patients doing general medical assistant procedures and practices and help you gain proficiency so you’ll be ready to start your career immediately after completion of the program. Some externship sites actually hire the extern upon graduation!
If the route of enrolling in a medical assisting program, graduating with your medical assisting Associate’s degree, and getting a good job in the healthcare field intrigues you, Independence University can help.
For more information, visit our medical assisting page today!