The medical field has several avenues for you in terms of a career. Some people work as doctors, others as nurses, and so on. One career field that people often consider is that of a medical assistant. By earning your medical assistant associate degree, you can become a vital part of the healthcare industry and help alleviate the work of other professionals in the field.
A medical assistant performs several administrative tasks, such as answering phones, filling out insurance forms, scheduling appointments, updating medical records, taking care of billing and booking, and handling correspondence. Medical assistants must be ready and willing to help in any way they can and their work varies based on the laws of the jurisdiction they work within.
It’s not uncommon for medical assistants to go beyond administrative work and perform tasks such as prepping patients for exams, recording vital signs, explaining procedures to patients, and even collecting and preparing laboratory specimens. The work of a medical assistant is varied and complex, but the rewards of helping a patient get better are well worth the effort.
Medical Assistant Associate Degree Careers
Working as a medical assistant is an intense occupation that requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to help out however you can. Medical assistants work in clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.
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After earning your associate degree, you have the opportunity to become a medical assistant. It is even possible to become one with just your high school diploma. People who do not have a degree receive on-the-job training.
If you do have a degree, the potential for you to get hired is much more likely, and there is a higher chance of advancement in your career. The demand for medical assistants is high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the expected growth rate of the medical assistant career is 23 percent. This rate is significantly faster than the average growth rate of other occupations.
Medical Assistant Career Advancements
When earning your associate degree, you want it to be in a field where you can grow and advance along with it. Medical assistants have career advancement opportunities where they’re allowed to specialize in a field. As a medical assistant, you choose between an administrative speciality or a clinical speciality.
An administrative speciality may require you to take more courses. The work done when earning your degree gives you a solid foundation. If you specialize in administrative work, you can work in medical billing and coding. Medical coders handle patient records and information and submit them to insurance companies.
A clinical speciality opens up various career opportunities for you. Some of these careers require you to earn more certifications, but there are others that only require you to have experience or hands-on training. There is a long list of careers to choose from, which include ophthalmology, pediatric medical assistance, EKG/cardiology technician, and chiropractic medical assistant.
Associate Degree in Medical Assisting
An Associate Degree in Medical Assisting prepares you for a variety of jobs in the medical assisting field. Obtaining your degree gives you more employment opportunities, advancement opportunities, and a strong educational foundation to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Associate degree programs have courses related to medical assistance that must be completed. Some of the topics covered in these courses include medical terminology, patient safety protocols, medical laws and ethics, and basic clinical procedures. Since you’re working toward a college degree, you must also take general education courses, such as math, English, psychology, communication, and speech.
Medical Assisting Associate Degree vs Certificate
You have the option to either earn your medical assisting associate degree or a certificate. A medical assisting certificate program is similar to that of an associate degree. You take comprehensive coursework covering physiology, performing EKGs, administering injections, and anatomy. You also complete an externship to gain real-world experience, depending on the program.
Whether you earn an associate degree or a certificate, you qualify for work as a medical assistant. Keep in mind that the accreditation of the program is important. Proper accreditation means you’re qualified to take examinations to earn your national medical assistant certification.
While the coursework is similar, there are some differences. In a certificate program, the curriculum is focused entirely on your job as a medical assistant. The studying you do is dedicated to ensuring you succeed.
Everything is streamlined in a certificate program and it focuses on the administrative and clinical skills needed specifically for a medical assistant. This streamlined process makes the graduation time 12 months, and even sooner in some cases.
By comparison, an Associate Degree in Medical Assisting is much broader. In addition to the core courses needed to become a medical assistant, associate degree programs require you to take general liberal arts classes. Associate degree programs take two years to complete, and they are more expensive than certificate programs.
One of the key benefits of a medical assisting associate degree compared to a certificate is that a degree allows you to further your education. At any point throughout your career, you have the potential to transfer your credits and complete your bachelor’s degree.
The ability to further your education opens up more job opportunities to you and a potentially higher salary. People who have earned their certification may still have to complete a full college program, which could take four years to complete.
If you only wish to work as a medical assistant and get your foot in the door as quickly as possible, a certificate is the right choice. However, if becoming a medical assistant is the first step towards a career in the healthcare field, a medical assisting associate degree is the better option.
Whether through administrative or clinical work, medical assistants are a valuable part of the healthcare system. Their work is vital towards ensuring a patient is taken care of, both inside and outside of the hospital.
The first step to becoming a medical assistant is earning your associate degree. With it, you have the knowledge needed to work in healthcare facilities all over the country and provide help to those in need.
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