Becoming a Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant

Working in the field of medicine appeals to many people. The various occupations are highly respected, the pay and benefits are generally good, and it’s a chance to help people. These are some of the reasons the field attracts so many. Not everyone has the desire to become a doctor, dentist, or nurse. There are, however, many different jobs in medicine that are equally essential to patients. One of these is the position of medical assistant.

A Medical Assistant’s Duties

Should you decide to study to be a medical assistant, you will be preparing for an important career that can be rewarding. A medical assistant should not be confused with a physician’s assistant. The latter assists doctors in examining, diagnosing, and treating patients. A medical assistant does clinical and administrative work that is no less valuable to a practice or hospital. Their duties range from greeting patients, answering phones, filling out insurance and other forms, and scheduling appointments.

The medical assistant is usually the first person a patient sees when coming into the office and the last to speak to upon leaving. The assistants are often the face of the office and can positively impact a patient’s visit.

A Medical Assistant’s Training

Most physicians and other medical employers prefer that assistants have some formal training. A certification as a medical assistant can be earned in many scholastic institutions including, vocational high schools, community and junior colleges, and universities. Courses include both administrative work such as typing, filing, keeping records, and processing insurance, and medical training including anatomy and physiology, ethics, medical law, laboratory work, and first aid. A graduate of a medical assistant program has a well-rounded education that can help them be a valuable member of a medical practice.

The Medical Assistant’s Job Market

The job market for medical assistants is large and varied. In 2014, there were nearly 600,000 people employed in assistant positions in the United States. Of these, approximately 60% worked for physicians in private practice while an additional 15% worked in medical and surgical hospitals. There were 10% working for podiatrists, chiropractors, and other medical professionals, and about 7% were employed at outpatient care centers. The remaining assistants worked in government, educational, and laboratory jobs.


Most medical assistants receive their certification through the American Association of Medical Assistants. This is the biggest and most respected organization in the field and you can become a Certified Medical Assistant through the AAMA. AAMA certification is the only one that requires study at a post-secondary educational institution which gives employers the knowledge that assistants with an AAMA certification are well-trained and fully educated. It can give you a leg up on the competition and is certainly the preferred certification for anyone interested in entering the field.

Helping people in your career is fulfilling in many ways. Medicine offers that opportunity. Becoming a doctor or nurse requires extensive training over a long period and is not for everyone. Fortunately, becoming a medical assistant is an option in which the training can be completed in a shorter period of time and the job still allows you to get the feeling of helping others.