The Medical Assistant program at ACH Riverside and Huntington Park, CA is designed to provide graduates with the basic front office (administrative) & back office (clinical assisting) skills necessary to qualify for entry-level positions in a variety of out-patient medical facilities. Students will learn medical terminology, anatomy & physiology, phlebotomy, medical office management, assisting with diagnostic procedures & administration of medications. Work-site learning in a medical facility is a component of this course.
A medical assistant works in a physician’s office, and is typically trained on the job. Typical job functions include administrative and clerical duties, as well as clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, health practitioners, and chiropractors. The law requires a medical assistant to work under the direct supervision of a licensed physician, registered nurse, nurse practitioner or physician assistant while performing direct patient care procedures.
A medical assistant program at ACH prepares individuals to be able to:
- Communicate and correspond with the public
- Put patients at ease by explaining the physician’s or health practitioner’s instructions
- Assume office manager responsibilities and duties
- Maintain patient confidentiality
- Become familiar with the physician’s goals
- Understand basic pharmaceutical principles
- Learn about medical law and adhere to ethical standards
One major task for a Medical Assistant is to assist in ensuring smooth operations throughout the office. However, this differs significantly from a physician assistant or nursing role. Instead, A Medical Assistant works alongside nurses and others on the health care team, treating all types of patients, from newborns to senior citizens.
Clinical duties performed by medical assistants may vary according to state law. Medical assistants perform any combination of the following duties under the direction of physician, in order to assist in the examination and treatment of patients:
- Calling medical facilities to schedule patients for tests
- Cleaning and sterilizing instruments
- Completing insurance forms
- Computing and mailing monthly statements to patients, including receipt of money for bills
- Draping patients with covering and position instruments and equipment
- Entering financial transactions into bookkeeping ledgers
- Explaining treatment procedures to patients
- Giving injections or treatments to patients
- Handing instruments and materials to the doctor as directed
- Interviewing patients
- Inventorying and ordering / re-ordering medical supplies and materials
- Keeping x-ray and other billing and medical records
- Measuring vital signs, such as pulse rate, temperature, blood pressure, weight and height, and record information on patients’ charts
- Operating x-ray electrocardiograph (EKG) and other equipment to administer routine diagnostic tests
- Performing routine laboratory tests
- Performing secretarial tasks, including keying data into the computer to maintain office and patient records
- Preparing treatment rooms for examination of patients
- Scheduling appointments
The demand for Medical Assistants has grown significantly in recent years, and employment prospects look promising. The high rate of health care services being provided is the main reason for the need of skilled professionals in this area. As the health care industry expands due to technological advances in medicine, as well as the aging and growth of the population, there will continue be an increasing need for health care workers.
More than 60 percent of medical assistants are employed at physicians’ offices. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of medical assistants is expected to grow at a much faster rate than other occupations, to 34 percent from 2010 to 2020.
Graduates of ACH’s Medical Assistant program can choose to work in a variety of locations, including (but not limited to):
- Ambulatory health care service
- Chiropractic offices
- Group practices
- Medical laboratories
- Nursing care facilities
- Outpatient care centers
- Physician offices
- Public and private education services
- State and local government health care agencies
In California, Medical Assistant graduates earn an annual mean wage of $27,420 to $31,980, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2012. Earnings may vary depending on the skill level and experience of the Medical Assistant, as well as the specific location. Medical assistants can advance in their career by working in a particular health care field, by specializing, or by moving into office manager positions and other positions with increased responsibility.
A Medical Assistant is required to be either certified or licensed, with the majority of medical assistants choosing to obtain a medical assistant certificate. Certification requires graduation from a Medical Assistant program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
There are two types of medical assistant certifications available:
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential: A CMA credential is awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To become eligible, a student must complete a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited Medical Assistant program. A CMA is required to re-certify every five years by continuing education or exam in order to maintain the certification.
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certificate: An RMA certificate is awarded by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To become eligible, a student must either pass a medical assisting curriculum at a school accredited by either CAAHEP or ABHES, or have a minimum of 5 years experience.
There are additional Medical Assistant certificates offered in ophthalmology and podiatry.
A graduate of a Medical Assistant program may also apply for a license, but this is not always required. In order to be approved for certain tasks (e.g., handling x-ray equipment and medical note taking procedures), some states may require additional tests or courses as well.
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