So, you’ve decided to pursue a career in Medical Assisting! We think that is a fantastic decision. Not only do Medical Assistants fill a dynamic role, but job opportunities are expected to grow a whopping 29 percent by 2026.1 As you probably know, Medical Assistants work with physicians and patients in doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.
When not preparing patients for exams, you might see a Medical Assistant scheduling appointments or speaking with insurance companies. Their tasks run the gamut from clinical to administrative, allowing them to gain quite a bit of exposure and experience. Due to the variety of their tasks, some employers will only hire applicants who have completed a Medical Assistant program.
Let’s start by delving into the basics of MA programs…
Length of Medical Assistant Programs
Though it depends on the school, formal Medical Assistant training can usually be completed in a year. Some programs allow students to attend part time, while others might require students to complete prerequisites or maintain a minimum grade point average.
At Unitek College, aspiring Medical Assistants can complete their training in as little as 9 months! Current MA students learn through informative lectures, practical training, and supervised externships. To give you a better idea, we’ve included some sample courses below, not to mention a brief rundown of our enrollment process…
+ Sample courses:
- Introduction to Medical Assisting& Medical Law
- Pharmacology, Medication Administration, Diagnostic Imaging
- Patient Assessment, Cardio-Pulmonary, Gastroenterology
- Eyes, Ears, Nose, Throat, Nervous System
- Stages of Life: Pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, Geriatrics
- Computerized Medical Assisting
- First Aid, Emergencies, Behavior in Acute Situations
- Medical Assisting Externship
+ Enrollment process:
- Career planning session and admissions interview
- Submit proof of high school education or equivalent
- Entrance assessment test
- Admissions application
- Enrollment agreement
- Financing arrangements and, if applicable, all documents needed to obtain an official award letter for Federal Student Aid
Certified Medical Assistant Training
It’s important to note that you do not need certification to practice in California. Additionally, certification is not a graduation requirement for every Medical Assistant program. For instance, graduates of the MA program at Unitek College may be eligible to take various professional certification exams, including the NCCT exam required for the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) credential and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) to earn the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential.
Such credentials are not required to graduate, but may be of value depending on a student’s career goals. Of course, Unitek faculty members can advise students seeking such certifications. Don’t be shy—ask away!
Various Careers in Medical Assisting
An article by U.S. News delved into various types of Medical Assistants. Some fill multiple roles at once, while others are highly specialized. Below are just some of these varying types…
+ Administrative Medical Assistant: “Administrative Medical Assistants schedule appointments, answer telephones, and fill out insurance forms with medical coding.”
+ Clinical Medical Assistant: “A clinical Medical Assistant’s responsibilities vary by state. They may include drawing blood, changing bandages, removing stitches, performing basic laboratory tests, sterilizing medical instruments, and providing dietary or medication instructions to patients.”
+ Ophthalmic Medical Assistant and Optometric Assistant: “Ophthalmic and optometric Medical Assistants work with ophthalmologists and optometrists in eye care. Ophthalmic assistants may help perform surgeries, while optometric assistants help perform more routine eye care procedures.”
+ Podiatric Medical Assistant: “Podiatric Medical Assistants work closely with podiatrists. They may assist with surgeries, develop X-rays, and make castings of feet.”
Professional Associations for Medical Assistants
According to U.S. News, there are several Medical Assisting organizations that provide members with various resources and benefits. These often include leads on potential jobs and both networking and volunteer opportunities. Additionally, some memberships also offer access to journals and publications.
Check out their top picks for MA organizations below!
+ American Association of Medical Assistants: “AAMA provides Medical Assistants with continuing education and networking opportunities. Students can earn certification by completing the organization’s CMA exam.”
+ American Registry of Medical Assistants: “This organization serves as a national registry for Medical Assistants, including corpsmen and medics in military hospitals and clinics. ARMA certifies Medical Assistants. The registry also provides job listings for Medical Assistants with or without certification.”
+ Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals: “AHCAP provides members with tuition discounts, free webinars, an electronic newsletter, access to an annual conference, job listings, and discounts on Medical Assistant certification.”
More About Unitek College
Founded in 2002, Unitek College is an accredited, private institution that provides training for the next generation of healthcare professionals. With seven campuses in California, Unitek offers educational programs in the cities of Bakersfield, Concord, Fremont, Hayward, Sacramento, San Jose, and South San Francisco.
If you’d like more information to start your own career in healthcare, Unitek College can help make that dream a reality. Contact us today to learn more about our nursing and Medical Assisting programs!