According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assisting is expected to be one of the fastest growing occupations. Once established, you may wish to progress to management. Medical assistants are responsible for many administrative tasks in the offices of health practitioners. Medical assisting also involves some basic clinical procedures. They must not be confused with physicians assistants, who take on a more hands-on clinical role.
The medical assisting role varies according to the size of the workplace. In a small physician's surgery, medical assisting will involve answering telephones, updating records, dealing with patients, handling insurance forms, bills and other correspondence. Here the clinical side of medical assisting will probably involve recording a patient's medical history, checking vital signs, explaining procedures and assisting the physician. Medical assisting in a larger practice could involve more specialised work such as in a laboratory, or preparing for x-rays. Likewise, if you choose to enter medical assisting for a podiatrist or ophthalmologist, you can expect a differing role.
You can train for medical assisting while you work, but career prospects are best for those who gain certification. This can be done full time or part-time at vocational colleges, or online while you work. You can also opt for a medical assisting associate's degree. Administrative areas covered on medical assisting programs include typing, transcription, book-keeping, insurance, medical ethics and law. Clinical studies include anatomy, physiology and simple procedures.
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