If you’re wondering how to become a medical assistant, you certainly aren’t alone. The medical assisting profession is one of the fastest growing in the country with an estimated 200,000 new jobs being added in the next five years per the Board of Labor Statistics (www.BLS.gov), and record numbers of young people are taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by enrolling in online medical assistant programs and traditional certification courses throughout the country. Despite all of that competition, you may be surprised to learn that becoming a medical assistant is still a rather short process.
How to Become a Medical Assistant – A Step-by-Step Guide
The path to becoming certified as a medical assistant can be completed in just a handful of steps, and most who have followed it agree that getting started was the hardest part. By using the following step-by-by guide, it’s possible to start a career in the medical assisting field in as little as six months.
Step 1 – Decide Whether or Not to Specialize
The very first step toward earning your certification is to decide whether you want to become a medical assistant specialist or a general practitioner. The primary difference between the two is that the specialist focuses his or her time on a specific niche of the medical assisting profession, while the general practitioner tends to perform more basic clinical and administrative tasks.
A medical assistant degree is required to become a specialist, meaning that the individual will have to spend two years in school rather than the six months required to earn a medical assistant diploma. The pay-off to the extra schooling comes not only in job satisfaction however (i.e. the opportunity to work in a field that interests you), but also in pay. The salary of a medical assistant specialist is generally significantly higher than that of a generalist.
Step 2 – Find the Right School
Depending on what you decided in Step 1, this second step can be fairly straightforward, or rather challenging. If you want to specialize in a certain area of health care, you will need to find a program that offers your specific degree. Even if there isn’t a physical program near you that can meet this requirement, you will probably be able to find medical assistant schools online that can. Needless to say, if you are interested in a general diploma, this step is much easier.
Regardless of your specific program needs, you need to make sure that the program you apply to is properly accredited and is in good standing with your state’s regulatory bodies. It also doesn’t hurt to visit local health care professionals and solicit their opinions on the program you are considering.
Step 3 – Complete the Program
Whether you choose to go to a traditional school or attend a medical assistant program online, you’ll need to fulfill the course requirements in the allotted amount of time in order to graduate. Depending on whether you’re in a diploma or degree program, you may spend your study time focused entirely on acquiring the skills you will use during a typical work day (as is the case with diploma courses), or studying a wide range of clinical and general education materials (required by degree programs).
Step 4 – Take the Medical Assistant Certification Exam
No matter which approach you take in learning how to become a medical assistant, actually getting a job will require you to first pass the medical assistant certification exam. This standardized test contains material that would have been studied during any standard medical assistant course, as well as a some testing on mathematics, English and other basic skills that employers look for in new assistants.
Once you have successfully passed the certification exam, you will become a certified medical assistant. You are now ready to move on to the final step in the process.
Step 5 – Secure Employment
Depending on where you went to school, you may receive some assistance in securing a job. Many programs have job placement programs with local health care facilities to ensure that their graduates find work quickly. Even if you don’t have this luxury though, demand for new medical assistants is so high right now, that you shouldn’t have too much difficulty in finding job interviews right out of school.
How to Become a Medical Assistant on a Tight Budget
If you’re concerned that your medical assistant program tuition may be more than you can afford, there are numerous forms of financial aid available from both the schools themselves and other organizations in order to help prospective medical assistants get the training they need. It will generally also be less expensive to attend online medical assistant certification programs as you will be able to eliminate the cost of transportation, books and other things required in a physical classroom.
No matter which path you choose in learning how to become a medical assistant, however, you can rest assured that the end result will be a career in a fast-paced, rapidly-growing field.
Recommended Online Medical Assistant Programs!
[qs_listing areaofinterest="MEDICAL-ASSISTING" campustype="ONLINE"]