A Career In Medical Assisting
My name is Danni R, and I am a certified medical assistant and online educator. I am writing this article to introduce you to an exciting career in the allied health profession that has existed for quite a long time but is just recently gaining the attention and recognition it deserves. I am talking about a career in medical assisting!
A Career In Medical Assisting
Medical assisting is a field full of opportunity for those who enjoy working side by side with physicians and others in a medical office or clinic regardless of gender.
Traditionally, medical assisting has been a profession dominated by women, mostly because of biased counseling and recruiting, and misconceptions about the workforce.
However, opportunities abound for men and women with multiple health care skills and state-of-the-art knowledge in various medical sciences. The key to a successful medical practice or clinic is to hire competent medical assistants to handle routine administrative and clinical tasks.
The common goal of all medical assistants is the care and treatment of patients whether male or female.
More and more men are entering into the medical assisting profession which proves that this career is a field full of opportunity for anybody regardless of gender. Male medical assistants, just like their female counterparts, are highly valued and respected members of the healthcare team who enjoy working side by side with physicians and other healthcare practitioners!respected members of the healthcare team who enjoy working side by side with physicians and other healthcare practitioners!
Who Are Medical Assistants?
In general the medical assistant is a highly trained, multiskilled professional who plays an important role in the medical office or clinic, either in the front or in the back offce.
Medical assistants who work in what is called the front office schedule appointments, greet the patients, handle referrals, call and return phone calls from patients, call the pharmacy, oversee paperwork, handle correspondence, make sure lab test results are mailed to patients, arrange for hospital admission, and take care of billing and bookkeeping.
Medical assistants who work side by side with the physicians and nursing staff in the back office call the patients in from the waiting area, take their vital signs, show them to the exam room and treatment areas, ask them about the reason for their visit, and collect information such as a list of medications.
Medical Assistants collect specimens as ordered, and make sure that lab work is done, help with examinations and treatments, sterilize instruments and supplies, assist with minor surgery, and administer medications as ordered by the physician, and last but not least they make sure the office’s onhand supply of medications is properly maintained and samples are restocked, and last but not least the waiting areas and exam rooms are kept clean and attractive.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the medical assistant field will be one of the fastest growing occupations through the year 2010. Medical assistants held about 329,000 jobs in 2000. Sixty percent worked in physicians’ offices; 15 percent worked in hospitals, including in- and outpatient facilities.
The rest were employed in nursing homes, offices of other health practitioners and other healthcare facilities.
Formal training in medical assisting while generally preferred is not always required. Some medical assistants are trained on the job, although this is becoming more and more less common than in the past. Applicants usually need a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Recommended high school courses include mathematics, health, biology, typing, bookkeeping, computers, and office skills. Because medial assisting students must acquire both administrative skills, and competencies, and clinical skills and competencies prior volunteer experience in the healthcare field, or working as a nurse assistant or home health aide can be very helpful.
As a matter of fact medical assisting has become a transitional career for many nurse assistants and home health aides. Although there is no licensing for medical assistants, some States require them to take a test or a course before they can perform certain tasks, such as taking x-rays.
Employers prefer to hire experienced workers or certified applicants who have passed a national examination, indicating that the medical assistant meets certain standards of competence.
An Important Question!
Recently I was asked whether a medical assistant has to know the strenght of drugs and how medications are prescribed. This is an important quiestion!
I explained, that safe and effective drug therapy requires more of you than simply handing out or administering a drug or a prescription to a patient.
Therefore, an important part of the vactional training of a medical assistant is pharmacology. Not only is it an important part of the medical assisting education, it is essential!
A medical assistant is expected to have a basic knowledge of medications, which means they must be familiar with common types of medications, i.e. prescription drugs (regulated drugs,) and Over the Counter (OTC) medications, their brand and generic names, their usual indications, and their recommended dosages, and dosage forms.
Also, the medical assistant is expected to know the purpose and effect of drugs, conditions under which drugs may or may not be used (i.e. pregnancy, drug interactions, toxicity,) and be able to summarize possible reactions to a drug. In addition, the medical assistant must be able to read and understand all medical terms and abbreviations that appear on a prescription label and on a (written) prescription.
Medical assistants need to be attentive to ensure that the physician is aware of all medications, again, both prescription and OTC, that the patient is taking.
Furthermore, the medical assistant must be familiar with and follow federal, state, and legal guidelines, maintain awareness of federal and state health care legislation and regulations, and maintain and dispose of regulated substances in compliance with government guidelines and be aware of office policies and procedures. Because controlled drugs ae subject to many laws, a medical assistant is legally responsible for adhering to all related regulations.
The most efficient way to prepare for these responsibilities is to read the package inserts and drug labels that accompany all medications, whether they are drugs from drug company representatives (drug-reps), or drugs ordered by the practice.
Another excellent source of information is the Physician’s Desk Reference, or PDR, which most medical offices receive free of charge every year.