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5 Steps to Becoming a Medical Assistant

The healthcare industry is dynamic. With an aging and health-conscious population, it’s not surprising that the demand for health services is increasing. According to Business Wire, the US healthcare industry will reach close to $12 trillion by 2022.

Similarly, US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that the healthcare system remains the biggest employer in the country, with more than 20 million employees and a staggering $1 trillion in annual payroll recorded in 2018.

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This growth in the healthcare sector has resulted in a greater demand for professionals. In recent years, however, the industry has seen a decline in the number of nurses and doctors, mainly due to the long years required for their education. Consequently, the demand for medical assistants has increased. Based on the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the BLS, there will be about 104,400 job openings for medical assistants every year between 2020 and 2030. 

These professionals are filling gaps in the healthcare industry and are considered to be significant contributors to the further growth of the sector. How do you become a part of this profession? Here are five steps:

1. Earn a medical assisting diploma

While some individuals may become medical assistants without a medical assisting diploma, it’s still advisable to get one. Most employers favor those who have had adequate theoretical and practical knowledge to help them carry out day-to-day tasks in their clinics and hospitals. Most choose to employ certified medical assistants (CMAs) or registered medical assistants (RMAs) because they require less on-the-job training. A medical assisting diploma is the first step towards earning these certifications. 

When choosing an institution to enroll in, be sure to check program accreditation, student success rate, course delivery, program cost, and clinical training. Check if their offering matches your studying style and budget. These are important factors to consider to ensure success in your studies. 

2. Attend internships

After earning your medical assisting diploma, seek clinical training by attending an internship program that will allow you to get a real feel for how it is to work in a medical setting. During the internship, students will get to practice the skills they learned from the classroom. They will also learn new skills, such as drawing blood, filling out patient charts, and knowing surgical tools and instruments. It’s also an excellent opportunity to develop communication skills and professionalism. Internships are a good way to ensure students are ready for employment as entry-level medical assistants. 

3. Get medical assisting certifications

After getting on-the-job training, the next step is to work on the certifications. As mentioned, employers prefer applicants with relevant certifications because there is confidence in their clinical and practical knowledge and skills. The two foremost certification exams accepted by most employers are the RMA and the CMA exams. These exams typically cover anatomy, physiology, and various medical terminologies, as well as issues around safety and legal compliance. 

4. Broaden your capabilities

One of the keys to becoming a successful medical assistant is continuous learning. While you may have learned about anatomy and physiology in class and blood pressure monitoring during internships, keep in mind there is still so much more to learn. Medical assistants must also learn how to use electronic health records (EHR) and various technologies. Remember, the healthcare industry is ever-changing. Medical assistants need to be updated with the latest innovation to stay competitive. 

There is more to providing care than that. Medical assistants must learn how to talk to patients while participating in their care and follow expectations and etiquette. Developing soft skills such as empathy, communication, and multi-tasking will prove to be useful for medical assistants. 

5. Apply for a job

Once these steps are complete, your medical assisting career can start. Explore options when applying as a medical assistant. One of the first things to do is to refine your resume. List all relevant credentials, including the medical assisting program attended, clinical training received, and certifications earned. Get recommendation letters from mentors and supervisors to help showcase skills and knowledge. 

Practice responses for interviews and keep practicing technical skills. Some medical assisting jobs, such as those dealing with surgeries, may require you to demonstrate your skills by identifying surgical instruments. 

Doing volunteer work in local hospitals and clinics will also help boost your healthcare experience and prepare you for your new career. 

Once you know how to get a medical assisting diploma, your journey towards a rewarding career in the medical field can start. Make sure to enjoy every part of the journey. Remember that it’s all about having the right mindset towards your goal. Once you become a medical assistant, you can continue advancing your career to achieve even better rewards. 

If you want to jumpstart your career as a medical assistant, enroll in HCI College’s Medical Assistant Diploma program. 

If you have friends who want to become medical assistants, share this article with them!