A medical assistant is expected to be an expert in both medical and administrative tasks. Being an assistant, he/she is expected to help the doctors in their daily activities regarding treating patients. A medical assistant (MA) is responsible for the smooth functioning of the employing facility. He can work in a doctor's office or in private or government medical health care centers. Do you want to become a medical assistant? How to prepare yourself for a job in the health care sector? What are the prerequisites for a certified medical assistant (CMA)? The next section provides answers to all these questions.
Certified Medical Assistant's Duties and Responsibilities
CMA's job is a versatile job as it involves several types of duties. The duties may vary according to the size and location of the employing facility. A medical assistant has to answer the phone calls of patients, internal phone calls of the doctors or administrative staff from the hospital. He is also responsible for scheduling appointments for patients after communicating with the doctors.
Medical assistants should have enough knowledge about the modern telephone operating systems. They have to manage the doctor's appointments according to the operation theater schedule. As an administrative and front desk officer, the MAs are supposed to greet the patients. They should have a pleasing personality and very good communication skills. They have to guide the patients and visitors about the admission procedure, visiting hours of the hospital, etc.
Medical assistants are responsible for taking care of the registration procedure of patients, and filing and maintaining their records for future use. For example, the MA has to guide the patients about the formalities regarding insurance and he/she has to communicate with the respective insurance companies as well. Besides, he has to maintain the financial records of the employing facility. The MA has to write several mails, for example, he/she has to send mails to doctors when a patient is referred to another doctor. The MA is supposed to send the records of the patients to other doctors, whenever required. He/she is expected to maintain the records of purchases (equipment, medicines and other medical supplies) and sales (injections, medicines and equipment).
When it comes to clinical duties, a MA collects blood samples for testing and also for blood donations, urine samples, applies and changes dressings, administers injections, x-rays, ECG, and more. He/she sends the samples to the labs, files the reports received from the labs and even works in the medical labs (if allowed by the state law) as per the requirement. In hospitals, the MA has to keep records of the vital signs like temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate of the patients. He is also expected to inform the concerned doctor about the daily observations and health conditions of patients.
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?
Information about the duties and responsibilities of a MA shows that a medical assistant should be an expert in computer software like ms-office, word, spreadsheet, mail and fax system, database management, etc. If you want to make a career in the health care sector and if you want to become a medical assistant, you should take part in programs arranged by your school and college to help the children in orphanages or elderly in the old age homes.
You should take courses in word processing, algebra, accounting, business computer applications, English, shorthand, record keeping, etc. If you like helping your neighbors and friends, if you really feel a pull to help others, if you think that you can console an ailing person, then you can become a medical assistant. A MA should have a compassionate mind and willingness to work for long hours.
The rules and regulations about the certifications or an associate degree varies from state to state. After your graduation, you can attempt the AAMA's (American Association of Medical Assistants) CMA Certification Exam. You can attempt exams arranged by other organizations after your higher secondary or any equivalent diploma. But most employers prefer a candidate who has graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited Medical Assistant school.
Here, CAAHEP stands for Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs while ABHES stands for Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. So it is better to attempt the certified medical assistant exam after graduation. You can attempt the exam arranged by AAMA, thrice. After passing the exam, you may be offered on-the-job training. Renowned employers who pay well, select candidates who have an experience of working as a MA and who have obtained a CMA certification from AAMA. The course covers topics like legal regulation, laboratory processes, medical terminologies, data management and administrative rules and regulations. To keep yourself updated, you are expected to recertify your credential every 60 months.
Apart from AAMA, there exist other organizations which do certify MAs; for example, the National Center for Competency Testing, NCCT's certification 'National Certified Medical Assistant' (NCMA). The American Medical Technologists (AMT) agency offers the RMAs (Registered Medical Assistants) credentials to the aspiring candidates. National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers two different certificates, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant(CMAA).
Although obtaining a professional certificate is not mandatory, candidates with CMA certification are the most sought after candidates. Now that you know 'how to become a certified medical assistant', you can prepare well. CMA is one of the highest paying medical jobs.
The certified medical assistant salary range may vary according to the experience, location and the size of the employing organization. CMAs not only earn a handsome income but they also enjoy huge job satisfaction. CMAs have a bright future as their demand is growing every year.