Medical Assistants - a Growing Field

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley Daily Herald Correspondent

"Whether you are new to the job market or looking to change jobs, this really is a field worth checking out."

Looking for a sure thing? Then consider a career as a medical assistant.

As the Health services industry continues to expand due to technological advances and because of our growing and aging population, more and more medical assistants are desperately needed.

A versatile allied health care field

Unique to this particular field, medical assistants are the only allied health professionals who are trained to work specifically in ambulatory settings, such as doctors' offices, clinics, and group practices.

Medical assistants can handle a number of responsibilities, including: interviewing patients; recording patient information on charts; measuring vital signs; preparing examination rooms; explaining treatment procedures to patients; instructing patients about medications and special diets; assisting physicians during examinations; collecting and preparing lab specimens; and tending to routine administrative and clinical tasks.

The job of medical assistant is different than that of a physician assistant, who examines, diagnoses, and treats patients under the supervision of a physician.

Desperately seeking medical assistants

Whether you are new to the job market or looking to change jobs, this really is a field worth checking out.

According to the US Department of Labor (www.bls.gov/oco/ocos164.htm), "Medical assistants is projected to be the fastest growing occupation over the 2002 - 2012 period."

Join the team

Most medical assistants work in doctors' offices, but there are also jobs to be found in hospitals, outpatient facilities, chiropractic offices, ambulatory healthcare services, diagnostic laboratories, and nursing care facilities.

An important part of any medical team, medical assistants work under the direction of a physician. They may also report to a supervisor or a manager.

Areas of specialization are open to medical assistants, and require unique skills and knowledge. For example, podiatric medical assistants make castings of feet, and assist podiatrists in surgery. Ophthalmic medical assistants measure and record vision, test eye muscle function, and assist ophthalmologists in providing eye care.

It pays to go to school

In order to land a job as a medical assistant, one needs a high school diploma, a medical assistant certificate (CMA), and up to two years experience in a related field.

Early starters can find formal programs in medical assisting in vocational or technical high schools. …