Medical assistants perform a variety of duties in a medical office setting. A medical assistant usually performs his tasks under the supervision of one or more physicians. Common job duties of medical assistants include both administrative and clinical tasks, as their primary function is to help with the overall functioning of the medical office in which they work. These offices can include private physicians' practices, outpatient care centers, hospitals and public health clinics.
A medical assistant's job requirements and daily duties differ depending on the office in which he works. However, common duties include clinical work such as taking blood, recording medical histories and taking vital signs. Common administrative tasks include scheduling appointments, answering phones, writing and responding to correspondence, and processing insurance paperwork.
The medical assistant field is a growing one. It is expected that the need for certified medical assistants will grow by nearly 35 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This makes this profession one of the fastest growing in the U.S. during that time period.
Those who work as medical assistants usually complete a one- or two-year training program from a vocational, technical or community college. Often, one-year programs provide graduates with a certificate or a diploma. Graduates of a two-year program often receive an associate degree. The curriculum for a medical assistant program covers both classroom work and practical laboratory work. The accreditation organization for medical assistants is the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. By completing an accredited program, graduates increase their chances of finding employment as a medical assistant.
A medical assistant also will increase her chances of employment if she completes certification from an organization such as the American Association of Medical Assistants. Certification requires coursework and a passing score on an examination. This certification is called the certified medical assistant (CMA) designation. Once certified, medical assistants must reapply for certification every five years.
According to Salary.com, salaries for medical assistants range from $24,000 to $35,000, as of June 2010. Salaries can vary based on the employer, the medical assistant's level of education and years of experience, and even by location.
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