If you are considering a career as a medical assistant, Florida offers a number of schools to choose from, including many accredited programs. The Florida Society of Medical Assistants offers student memberships, encourages student involvement, and provides a listing of accredited programs. In addition, the American Association of Medical Assistants provides a wealth of information about the profession. Medical assisting is a booming career with numerous work location options, long-term stability, clean and well-lit working conditions, and regular working hours.
Medical Assisting Careers in Florida: A Profession in High Demand
If you live in Florida and are thinking of entering the medical assisting profession, you can expect a wealth of employers vying for your services. There are thousands of job openings for medical assistants each year across the state of Florida, making it one of the top states for job opportunities in the country for medical assistants. Moreover, according to experts at medicalassistantschools.com, due to the state’s accelerating population growth, medical assistants can expect the labor market demand for their skill set to continue rising.
Indeed, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment prospects for medical assistants are expected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations: demand will stem from physicians hiring more medical assistants to do routine administrative and clinical duties so that physicians can see more patients. This uptick in demand is expected to result in the hiring of over 160,000 new medical assistants this decade.
What Does Working as a Medical Assistant Entail?
Medical assistants can be called on to carry out a large variety of tasks. The specific duties vary depending on the setting, the specialization of the practice in which the assistant is employed, and the number of staff employed in that location. For example, if you are a medical assistant in a geriatric care facility, your duties will be different from a medical assistant in a hospital setting or a specialist doctor’s office.
Medical assistants are often responsible for maintaining efficiency and organization in a healthcare office. Tasks of this nature typically include contact with patients –greeting patients in person and by phone and scheduling their appointments and acting as the liaison between medical professionals and patients.
Further tasks include behind-the-scenes office organization such as recording, updating and filing patient information; managing billing and bookkeeping records; completing and filing insurance forms; and arranging lab procedures, referrals, and hospital admission for patients.
Medical assistants are also trained to perform clinical duties and interact directly with patients in the examination rooms. Medical assistants assist physicians and nurses with a variety of tasks before, during, and after medical examinations. They take oral medical histories from patients, take and record vital signs in patients’ medical charts, collect and prepare bodily fluid specimens for lab analysis, sterilize medical equipment, prepare patients for medical exams, and liaise with pharmacists to authorize prescriptions.
In addition, due to their direct interaction with patients and patient medical histories, medical assistants are privy to sensitive medical records. It is thus of the utmost importance that medical assistants exercise discretion and respect patient confidentiality at all times. In order to safeguard patients’ rights, medical assistant certification often includes compliance training in order to thoroughly understand and uphold the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Being a Medical Assistant: What Does it Take?
Medical assisting can be both a demanding and rewarding profession. Medical assistants work in a fast-paced role in which they must interact frequently with a number of people, both healthcare professionals, and patients. Job training is not all it takes – being a successful medical assistant also takes professionalism, discretion, and people skills. Desirable professional skills include maintaining a neat and hygienic appearance, in keeping with the medical setting, and being polite and respectful when dealing with patients. Employers also look favorably on candidates with a talent for clearly explaining the doctor’s instructions and making patients feel comfortable and relaxed during their visit.
Educational Options for Medical Assistant Training Across Florida
Across the state of Florida, there are dozens of schools offering a variety of programs to train prospective medical assistants. The various programs offered range in duration, depth, and breadth of study, practical training involved, cost and accreditation. In addition, various institutions issue different training certifications. Depending on the program, one can earn a medical assistant certificate, a medical assistant diploma, or a medical assistant associate degree. One can also specialize further in a medical assistant technician program.
While it is not always necessary to undergo formal training to become a medical assistant and a high school diploma is sometimes sufficient, the American Association of Medical Assistants reports that “job prospects should be best for medical assistants with formal training or experience, particularly those with certification.” Furthermore, the Association recommends that prospective medical assistants complete a recognized certification course as “employers prefer to hire experienced workers or certified applicants who have passed a national examination, indicating that the medical assistant meets certain standards of competence.”
When choosing a medical assistant training program, it is important to consider various factors, such as cost, accreditation, and how much time and effort you are willing and able to spend on your education, as the various programs vary in length and intensity. While some programs require just around 45 credits to graduate, others require a minimum of 75 credits. However, having gained additional knowledge and training often translates into expanded professional opportunities and additional professional advancement. When making a decision about which educational institution is right for you, it is useful to compare and contrast differing programs and see which can offer you the best fit for your professional, academic, financial, and scheduling needs.
Frequently Asked Questions about Being a Medical Assistant
Question: Would medical assistant be the right career for me?
Answer: A person in this field should have strong communication skills, be able to handle a high volume of work at a fast pace, and have a high level of empathy. This position works with people who are not at their physical best. Therefore it is important that you are able to remain courteous and professional at all times.
Question: What are the duties of a medical assistant?
Answer: Typically, medical assistants perform bookkeeping, ask about patient histories, record vital signs, send office correspondence, prepare examination rooms, ensure insurance billing, draw blood, update medical records, schedule appointments, and explain procedures, prescriptions, and more to patients when necessary. This list can expand or contract depending on where the medical assistant is employed.
Question: What is the average salary of a medical assistant?
Answer: Nationwide, the average salary for a medical assistant is about $30,000 USD. An additional $15,000 a year can be received in bonuses and benefits. The salary can increase depending upon the level of training, location, experience, and credentials.
Question: What does it mean to be a certified medical assistant?
Answer: Certification is voluntary for medical assistants. With certification, a higher salary can be asked for or will be given upon offer. Even though it is not required, certified medical assistants are often showed them preference by employers when hiring. To become certified, you need to meet the eligibility requirements and take the certification examination.
Question: How long are medical assistant training programs?
Answer: Training to become a medical assistant depends on the level of education you wish to have. Certificates and diplomas can be earned in less than a year while an associate’s degree typically takes between 18 months and two years to complete.
Question: How likely is it that I will find a job in Florida as a medical assistant?
Answer: As stated earlier, medical assistants are in high demand in the state of Florida, specifically in Miami. It is very likely that you will find a job upon graduation, especially if you are bilingual in Spanish. As a career, it is easily transferable to other states as well, without having to retrain or recertify.
Starting Your Medical Assistant Career at Florida National University
Florida National University (FNU) offers a Medical Assistant (MA) Diploma aimed at preparing the student to be a competent and multi-skilled medical assistant. Through the acquisition of specific skills and job knowledge necessary to work in clinical and administrative settings at hospitals, clinics, medical labs, diagnostic centers, and doctor’s offices, FNU equips students to be successful and in-demand medical assistants. In addition, the MA program offers options for entry-level positions such as front office procedures, back office procedures, and back office procedures. Students will be able to apply for the American Registry for Medical Assistants (ARMA) registry.
Alternatively, FNU also offers an accredited Associate of Science degree in Medical Assisting Technology (MAT). The MAT program at FNU prepares the student for entry-level employment as a medical assisting technologist in administrative and clinical settings such as hospitals, clinics, medical Labs, diagnostic centers, and medical offices. The program includes a fifteen-credit-hour component of general education/ liberal arts courses. The student is prepared for challenging the CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) and the RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) certification examinations, and the National Certification exam of Phlebotomy. FNU awards an Associate of Science Degree upon completion of the program.
FNU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is committed to helping students attain a quality university education according to the student’s personal goals. As one of the best medical assistant programs in Florida, the courses are designed with you in mind. Contact FNU today to find out more about your exciting career path in the medical assisting profession!