Medical Assisting Certifications: Picking the Right Program

If you are a recent high school student and are on the fence about whether or not you should become a medical assistant because of job outlook, don’t worry. Out of all the fields of work and copious amount of industries out there around the world – health care is highly in demand and seeking candidates.

However, just because health care and medical assistants are in demand it does not mean you will immediately get a job. In today’s society experience trumps good grades and graduating with honors.  As a medical assistant however, it is hard to find a job outside of your externships and internships if you are not certified. Many employers would prefer to see certification over experience because of liability issues.

If for whatever reason, you are hired without certification and you do a certain clinical procedure wrong with a patient, then your employer is liable for a lawsuit that could cost them their business. Every student or future student who is looking to pursue a degree or diploma in medical assisting should prioritize colleges and technical schools that offer certification alongside the degree.

No employer will spend countless of hours training you without certification. In fact, they would not even call you in for an interview. With some basic experience brought on by your externships, and the certification which will make it so you are not a legal liability, you will be pushing your way to the top of the candidate list.

Please note that some physicians are very picky when it comes to their employees. While it might feel like they didn’t take you for the job because you weren’t experienced enough – this is not always the case. Most of the time they are just extremely picky, so don’t give up hope or faith.

Typical Problems Faced by Medical Assistants

Whether you’re finishing up a program specializing in Medical Assisting, or have been working the field for quite some time or even years, there is a common thread that links all MA’s regardless of time: problems. It is a known fact that things go awry often in any working field and industry. It is simply impossible to have a perfect operation, and most of the time this is because things happen that are beyond anyone’s control. So from rude patients to running out of supplies, here are some common and typical problems faced by medical assistants.

  1. Getting Certified – A lot of medical assistants keep running into this problem post-graduation. Most accredited technical colleges offer certification through their degree program, and they even take the time to prepare you for the exam. For the most part, you can go onto any of their websites and see what organization is offering the certification to their program. Most of these organizations have online courses you can take to prepare you for the certification test, and they even offer the certification exam online, or will help you find an on-site testing facility to get you certified. Your best bet is to Google The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) as they are the main provider for certifications.
  2. Landing a Job After an Interview – after scrolling through Indeed’s career forums I found that a lot of MA’s have a hard time landing a job after an interview. A few managers of health facilities spoke about how most of the candidates just didn’t have the right attitude. As in, they weren’t excited about helping patients, about quality of care, or about being a team player within a facility. Most candidates have turned up for a “guaranteed” career and seem to have no interest in actually being a good employee. So the trick to landing a job as an MA post-interview, is to be actually interested in the career, and show that you care about the job, patients, and health care.
vital signs

Vital Signs Become Digitized

Medical assistants work as both an office assistant and a clinical assistant. In their office role, medical assistants are expected to field phone calls, schedule appointments, process payments, organize records, and assist patients in the waiting room when necessary. In their clinical role, medical assistants need to measure people’s height and weight, blood pressure and temperature, and obtain a brief medical history and find out the reason for the office visit before the patient sees the doctor or practitioner. Depending on the type of office where he or she is working they may have more questions or need to record additional vital signs. They will also organize the records so that the doctor or physician can begin his or her visit and diagnose or treat the patient as quickly as possible.

Technology is changing the way that medical assistants work. Today most medical assistants record their data the “old fashioned” way, using medical forms and pen. But it is becoming increasingly common to see doctors using a laptop or tablet to review medical history and to write and send prescriptions. In urgent care clinics the medical assistants frequently have tablets as well. In the future, I predict all medical offices will supply assistants with tablets or other electronic devices. Thankfully, most medical assistant programs are already familiar with using a smartphone so it should not be difficult for them to adapt to the technology. For those who have been working in the field for awhile it may be more difficult to make the change to digital.

So what tools will always be used by medical assistants? It’s hard to say. Today, medical assistants use scales and thermometers which have become digitized as well. Most thermometers are automatic so temperature can be taken through the ear or by simply placing the device on the patient’s wrist. Scales require the patient to step onto them but that is really it. Blood pressure is still being taken as it was twenty years ago but I would not be shocked to find out that in the future a tool is invented that measures all vital signs and records them automatically. Our quickly advancing technologies are bound to change the way that both doctors and medical assistants record and view a patient’s history.