In this program, students gain the knowledge and hands on skills necessary to perform the duties in an entry level capacity as a medical assistant (in both clinical and administrative capacities), clinical medical assistant, administrative medical assistant, front office medical assistant, medical secretary, medical office clerk, medical office assistant, medical administrative assistant, scheduler, medical receptionist and learn to meet the basic competencies of the medical assistant. They may achieve exam eligibility for third party professional certification. This class covers the administrative and clinical medical assisting and some medical billing.
(excerpted from the US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook)
- Nature of the Work
- Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
- Job Outlook
- Significant Points
- Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 decade.
- Job prospects should be excellent.
- About 62 percent of medical assistants work in offices of physicians.
Nature of the Work
Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. The duties of medical assistants vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner’s specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually do many different kinds of tasks, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators. Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the direct supervision of a physician.
Administrative medical assistants update and file patients’ medical records, fill out insurance forms, and arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services. They also perform tasks less specific to medical settings, such as answering telephones, greeting patients, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, and handling billing and bookkeeping.
Clinical medical assistants have various duties, depending on State law. Some common tasks include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for examinations, and assisting physicians during examinations. Medical assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens and sometimes perform basic laboratory tests, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. As directed by a physician, they might instruct patients about medications and special diets, prepare and administer medications, authorize drug refills, telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy, draw blood, prepare patients for x rays, take electrocardiograms, remove sutures, and change dressings. Medical assistants also may arrange examining room instruments and equipment, purchase and maintain supplies and equipment, and keep waiting and examining rooms neat and clean.
Medical assistants work in well-lighted, clean environments. They constantly interact with other people and may have to handle several responsibilities at once. Most full-time medical assistants work a regular 40-hour week. However, medical assistants may work part time, evenings, or weekends.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Medical assisting training programs are offered in vocational schools, and community and junior colleges. Vocational programs usually last either 1 year and result in a certificate or diploma, or 2 years and result in an associate degree. Courses cover anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, as well as keyboarding, transcription, recordkeeping, accounting, and insurance processing. Students learn laboratory techniques, clinical and diagnostic procedures, pharmaceutical principles, the administration of medications, and first aid. They study office practices, patient relations, medical law, and ethics. Some States allow medical assistants to perform more advanced procedures, such as giving injections or taking x rays, after passing a test or taking a course.
Medical assistants deal with the public; therefore, they must be neat and well groomed and have a courteous, pleasant manner and they must be able to put patients at ease and explain physicians’ instructions. They must respect the confidential nature of medical information. Clinical duties require a reasonable level of manual dexterity and visual acuity.
Medical assistants may also advance to other occupations through experience or additional training. For example, some may go on to teach medical assisting, and others pursue additional education to become nurses or other healthcare workers. Administrative medical assistants may advance to office managers, or qualify for a variety of administrative support occupations.
Medical assistants held about 483,600 jobs in 2008. About 62 percent worked in offices of physicians; 13 percent worked in public and private hospitals, including inpatient and outpatient facilities; and 11 percent worked in offices of other health practitioners, such as chiropractors and optometrists. Most of the remainder worked in other healthcare industries, such as outpatient care centers and nursing and residential care facilities.
Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 decade. Job opportunities should be excellent, particularly for those with formal training or experience, and certification.
Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 34 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the healthcare industry expands because of technological advances in medicine and the growth and aging of the population, there will be an increased need for all healthcare workers. The increasing prevalence of certain conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, also will increase demand for healthcare services and medical assistants. Increasing use of medical assistants to allow doctors to care for more patients will further stimulate job growth.
Helping to drive job growth is the increasing number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that need a high proportion of support personnel, particularly medical assistants who can handle both administrative and clinical duties. In addition, medical assistants work mostly in primary care, a consistently growing sector of the healthcare industry.
Jobseekers who want to work as a medical assistant should find excellent job prospects. Medical assistants are projected to account for a very large number of new jobs, and many other opportunities will come from the need to replace workers leaving the occupation. Medical assistants with formal training or experience—particularly those with certification—should have the best job opportunities, since employers generally prefer to hire these workers.
NIU COLLEGE PROGRAM SUMMARY
- Program Goals: To adequately prepare students to fill any one of the following job opportunities in an entry level capacity: medical assistant, clinical medical assistant, back office medical assistant, administrative medical assistant, front office medical assistant, medical receptionist, among others.
- Program Description: This program involves classroom theory, laboratory procedures and externship. In the classroom, the main learning activities are lectures, written assignments, reading assignments, quizzes and exams, presentations, videos (as available). In the laboratory, the learning activities will involve the student’s mandatory participation in performing procedures to achieve the course objectives and undergo procedural evaluations. Students will perform procedures on each other. Procedures include obtaining blood samples, electrocardiograms, urinalysis, ear lavage, injections (saline) and vital signs. Externship will involve the student working in an entry level position for which they have trained.
- Program Clock hours: 720 Clock Hours
- Program Schedule: M-F 8a-12p; or, 1-5p; or, 6-10p, externship may be fulltime.
- Program Length: 36 weeks
- Completion document awarded: Diploma in Medical Assisting
- Courses for this program:
|AH100||Allied Health Intro||80 Hours|
|AA101||Administrative Assisting I||80 Hours|
|AA102||Administrative Assisting II||80 Hours|
|CA101||Clinical Assisting I||80 Hours|
|CA102||Clinical Assisting II||80 Hours|
|CA103||Clinical Assisting III||80 Hours|
|CA104||Clinical Assisting IV||80 Hours|
|CD10||Career Development (integrated)||(100 Hours)|
|MA200||Medical Assistant Externship||(100 Hours)|