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 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 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 education 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.
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. Alternatively, FNU also offers an accredited Associate of Science degree in Medical Assisting Technology (MAT).
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. Contact FNU today to find out more about your exciting career path in the medical assisting profession!