Many jobs in healthcare require a degree, but what if you don’t have two or more years to spend in college? It’s tough for adult students to manage home life and train for a new career, but you’re not stuck, there is an option. With a vocational program, you can become a medical assistant in just nine months, and the benefits of your education will last a lifetime.
What Do Medical Assistants Do?
Medical assistants perform a broad range of clinical and clerical tasks in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. It’s a rewarding field for students with good organizational skills who enjoy science, technology, and business.
A flexible position, job descriptions vary based on where you work, but your primary responsibilities will be to:
Manage the Schedule
Medical assistants work closely with clinical professionals. In some offices, they work with a single doctor, managing their urgent care appointments. In other settings, you may assist or be wholly responsible for answering the phone and making appointments for multiple providers.
Triage Clinical Concerns
When there are more patients to see than there is time in the day, you’ll help triage calls so that the sickest patients are seen first. Using your clinical expertise, you’ll engage with patients on their doctor’s behalf, gathering the information upon which treatment decisions are made.
Prepare Patients for Exams
Medical assistants save the doctor time by preparing patients for exams. You’ll escort them to the treatment areas, update their medical record, complete verbal pre-screenings for mental health and social concerns and collect requested specimens for testing.
Take Vital Signs
Vital signs give doctors the health data they need to calculate medication dosages and make sound treatment decisions. Medical assistants take patients’ temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, and blood pressure before each exam.
Stock Exam Rooms
No one knows better what doctors need in the exam room than a medical assistant. You’ll stock shelves daily, filling cupboards with the supplies necessary for exams.
Do Diagnostic Tests
Medical assistants perform diagnostic testing from electrocardiograms to pacemaker checks. It could be a small or significant part of your job depending on where you work.
Drawing blood, or phlebotomy, is among a medical assistant’s most valuable skills. Like diagnostic testing, how much of it you do rests on where you’re employed.
In a general practitioner’s office, you’re less likely to draw blood. However, occupational medicine and hematology practices are more likely to offer on-site phlebotomy services, so it’s a valuable skill. Some medical assistants go on to become certified phlebotomists so that they can work in hospitals.
Doctor’s offices, hospitals, and infusion centers offer injectable medications and intravenous drug therapy. Under the supervision of a licensed clinical professional, you may administer vaccinations, vitamin injections and more depending on the rules in your state.
With supervision and practice, many treatments are within a medical assistant’s scope of practice. You may remove stitches, apply dry dressings, and assist with complex wound care and more.
Assist with Procedure
Many private practices perform minor procedures in the office instead of sending patients to the hospital. Examples include removing moles, taking biopsies, and draining cysts. Medical assistants help by preparing equipment, passing instruments during the procedure, and preparing tissue samples for testing.
Implement Infection Control Measures
Medical settings cater to the ill, so they can harbor dangerous, drug-resistant germs. Medical assistants prevent the spread of infectious diseases by sanitizing exam rooms, disinfecting tools and sterilizing instruments. You’ll also serve as a resource for clients and non-clinical staff with questions about self-care.
Nationwide, one in three patients is referred to specialists by their general practitioner. Medical assistants speed up the process by transferring the necessary documentation and completing insurance paperwork. If you’re on the receiving end of the referral, you’ll work directly with insurers to verify that the visit is covered and coordinate with patients to introduce them to the practice.
Help Around the Office
Medical assistants can handle many of the administrative tasks done by office assistants and billing specialists. So, when the clerical team needs a hand, medical assistants help fill in the gaps. On any given day, you may answer the phone, do some filing, or help order supplies.
As the doctor’s liaison, medical assistants are an important source of clinical information. You can’t give people medical advice, but you can help them better communicate with the doctor and understand their treatment plans.
What Education Do You Need to be a Medical Assistant?
Some medical assistants have college degrees while a few receive on-the-job training. However, most medical assisting students choose vocational school diploma programs for their many benefits.
What Are the Advantages of a Formal Education?
On-the-job training was once common for medical assistants, but times have changed as healthcare becomes increasingly complex. Today’s employers prefer job applicants with some level of formal training, a diploma or degree is the benchmark.
Vocational schools represent one of the best values in education, offering a surprising range of benefits, such as:
Vocational school medical assisting programs offer comprehensive training. Graduates are ready to assume most job responsibilities on day one without months of supervised training. You’ll have the skills you need to feel confident in an entry-level position.
Full-time students graduate in just nine months and qualify for most of the same jobs as their college-educated colleagues. So why put training on the back burner because you have bills to pay? A vocational school is affordable and lifestyle friendly.
A Competitive Advantage
Medical assistants are in demand, but there’s always competition for the best jobs. Without practical experience or a diploma, few applicants stand a chance. Turnover is costly, so employers want staff with proven skills and commitment to their field. A diploma demonstrates your dedication and replaces years of experience.
Greater Advancement Potential
Continuing education is the key to professional growth in most fields, and medical assisting is no exception. Diplomas give medical assistants a solid foundation upon which to build their skills.
Team members with formal training are typically the first to earn promotions, so having a diploma puts you at the top of the list. With experience and continuing education, many medical assistants move into supervisory position or go on to work in other parts of the medical field.
Many job postings aren’t publicly listed, so finding the best positions is challenging without help from an insider. Employers often tap vocational schools for qualified applicants, so students have an edge. As a graduate, you’re entitled to career services to help you find your first dream job. It’s one of the many intangible perks vocational schools offer.
What Other Opportunities Does a Diploma Offer?
Having a vocational school diploma unlocks unexpected opportunities that can help grow your career.
You don’t need to be certified to work as a medical assistant, but it’s required to make the most of your skills. Without certification, for example, you can’t enter doctor’s orders into patient’s charts, so you’re a less versatile employee.
A medical assistant with five, full-time years of on-the-job experience can become certified without getting a diploma, but that’s tough to come by in today’s workplace. Vocational school curricula covers the material on the certification exam, giving students the best chance to pass it the first time.
Like most healthcare professionals, medical assistants can specialize. If you enjoy a particular field, you can seek out positions doing the work you love if you have the right credentials. Specialists prefer to work with medical assistants who are well-trained to handle the unique tasks in their practices.
Popular specialties include cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, geriatrics, and women’s health. Certifications are designed for medical assistants with a diploma or degree. Medical assistants can also choose to become certified as administrative or clinical medical assistants.
Higher education is an investment, so assessing your options is critical. Why spend years in college when you can learn the same skills in as little as 9 months? If college isn’t a good fit for you, you can still have a rewarding career in healthcare with a vocational school diploma. Give us nine months, and they’ll prepare you for a lifetime of professional growth.
Want to Learn More?
The objective of this Medical Assistant training program at Peloton College is to prepare the student for employment as an entry-level Medical Assistant performing administrative, clerical, and clinical duties within the health care field.
The mission of Peloton College is to be the premier provider of hands-on training and education by providing students and graduates with the necessary skills to secure occupational careers. Contact us today to learn more.