Medical assistants are health care support workers who have administrative and clinical roles in the medical field. This guide will give you all the information you need to know about the job of a medical assistant.
We begin with looking at three professional resume samples for medical assistants. You must use a resume format based on your experience and skill level.
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Job Duties of a Medical Assistant
A medical assistant has to perform both clerical and clinical tasks. Here are some of the duties and responsibilities you would have to fulfill in your job as a medical assistant:
Assisting doctors during routine checkups and outpatient procedures.
Documenting patient symptoms or conditions for the doctor’s review during clinical examinations.
Collecting and preparing fluid and tissue samples for laboratory testing.
Administering medications through injections (vaccinations and immunizations) under the supervision of the doctors or other licensed medical professionals.
Prepping examination rooms for conducting clinical procedures.
Manage the front desk of a hospital or clinic by performing administrative tasks.
Filling and updating patient medical records by using computer applications.
Taking care of coding and filing insurance forms.
Medical Assistant Median Salaries
The annual median salary of medical assistants is $35,850 as of May 2020. Your salary as a medical assistant depends on various factors like the organization, ts location, specialty, size, and state laws. A person with less than one year of experience can earn an average salary of $13.73 per hour, while a person with more than 20 years of experience can earn an average of $18 per hour, including bonuses and overtime.
Top Skills for Medical Assistants
Having the right skills is essential to fulfilling all the responsibilities of a medical assistant. While soft skills like attention to detail and compassion are crucial, some complex technical skills give you more credibility. Here are the six top skills required of medical assistants:
- Inventory and supply management skills: A medical assistant is responsible for managing the inventory and supply chain at the hospital. You have to take care of several tasks like medical supply evaluation and regular equipment inspection. It’s common for medical assistants to use inventory software for these duties and place orders when stock levels are low.
- Medical billing and coding: Medical assistants have to know about medical billing and coding. One of the primary duties involves processing and submitting medical claims to insurance companies and using codes to indicate patient diagnosis and procedures. Employers require command of the three most crucial medical coding styles: CPT, HCPCS, and ICD-10. You can enroll in a medical billing and coding training program to acquire this skill.
- Advanced anatomy and physiology: Medical assistants have to fulfill several clinical duties like using medical instruments, changing dressings, removing stitches, administering injections, and analyzing patient diagnosis and charts. Knowledge of anatomy and physiology will help them understand medical terminologies and conduct procedures correctly. Most certification and degree programs for medical assistants include a module on human anatomy and physiology.
- Sterilization techniques: Medical assistants should know how to create and maintain a sterile environment for clinical examinations and procedures. Most medical assistant training programs cover this module. Students must learn about various sterilization procedures to ensure that the equipment, tools, and environment are free from bacteria and other microorganisms.
- Administering injections: This is a critical skill. They have to know how to draw blood and inject medicines, including COVID-19 vaccines, into, usually, people’s arms, torso, or legs. The most common injections are intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intradermal. Intramuscular injections are inserted directly into muscles for quick bloodstream absorption, subcutaneous ones inside fatty tissue below the skin, usually for medicine that needs to be absorbed slowly like insulin. Intradermal injections are for testing antibodies and allergies, usually thrust into the layers of the skin.
- Communication skills: Good communication skills are essential when you are working as a medical assistant. You have to interact with patients daily and explain procedures, treatments, and their conditions. Active listening is also required to understand their concerns and issues correctly. Apart from the patients, you also have to communicate with doctors and other medical staff to enhance patient care at hospitals and clinics.
Educational Requirements for Medical Assistants
DegreeThe essential educational qualification for medical assistants is a high school diploma, though many employers prefer candidates with vocational training, certification, or an associate’s degree. Students interested in pursuing this career should take up chemistry, biology, anatomy, computers, and business. Most hospitals or healthcare organizations provide on-the-job training, covering subjects like medical vocabulary, office practices, and how to deal with patients.
LicensingWhile certifications are mandatory in some states, medical assistants do not need a license to work. However, you can become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants upon completing an exam. To be eligible, you must have graduated from a medical assisting program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
CertificationsAlthough certifications are not mandatory to become a medical assistant in many states, individuals with a certificate get more preference among all candidates. The AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants) offers a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) training program, while American Medical Technologists (AMT) provides a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification program. Similar courses and training programs for aspiring medical assistants are available at vocational schools, community colleges, and technical schools. Before enrolling for a program, ensure that the institute is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or other such qualified agencies.
The duration of these certification programs is usually 10-12 months, while an associate degree program may take two years to complete. Medical assistant online courses are also available.
Medical Assistant Resume-Writing Tips
Writing a resume is the first step toward getting a job. Your medical assistant resume should be short as well as have a professional template. Here are some tips that will help you to write an effective medical assistant resume.
- Write a compelling summary statement: A resume summary or objective is a short paragraph at the beginning of the resume. It is the first thing the recruiter sees, so it should be an impressive description of who you are as a professional. Highlight your best skills and how you used them in your previous jobs.
For entry-level individuals that don’t have relevant experience, simply talk about your relevant skills and career goals. The following is an example of a summary statement aimed at an entry-level.
Hardworking and well-organized medical assistant with experience as a volunteer at Med West. I look forward to using my skills in medical billing and coding, inventory management, and records maintenance.
- Give importance to complex or technical skills: Hard skills can be patient care, phlebotomy, medical administrative management, advanced anatomy knowledge, and inventory and supply management. One of the best ways to add relevant skills to your resume is to check the job description given by the company. Choose skills that you possess and use the exact keywords to make your resume ATS compliant.
- Use a professional template: Bright colors and creative templates distract recruiters from the content of your resume. Add credibility by selecting a traditional or professional template. Avoid using fonts such as Impact and only choose common ones like Times New Roman.
What is the job outlook for medical assistants?
The jobs of medical assistants are likely to grow 19% from 2019 to 2029. With an increasingly aging population, physicians are likely to hire more medical assistants to assist with clinical and clerical tasks.
What is the work environment of medical assistants?
Medical assistants work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, drug clinics, patients’ homes, and surgical and operating centers. They typically have to work 40 hours a week, including evening and night shifts, weekends, and holidays. You may also find part-time positions in specific organizations.
What is the difference between a medical assistant and a physician assistant?
Medical assistants have clinical and administrative responsibilities, while physician assistants are responsible for examining, diagnosing, and treating patients under the doctor’s supervision.