If you are thinking about how to become a medical assistant, there are a few things that you should know first. A medical assistant is a person who performs both clinical and administrative duties in a healthcare setting. The job description of a medical assistant will vary based on the type of work environment that is chosen. Typically, the job duties of a medical assistant will involve:


  • Recording patient history
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Conducting patient examinations alongside the physician
  • Providing shots to patients as directed by the doctor
  • Preparing blood, urine, and stool samples for the laboratory
  • Scheduling patient appointments


As you can see, the job of a medical assistant is varied and the duties may be different depending on where a person is employed. Those who work in a larger hospital may only perform administrative duties or clinical duties. Those who are employed at a small private office may have to perform both clinical and administrative duties.


Here are a few things that you should consider if you want to become a medical assistant.


Education Requirements


Most medical assistants will have some type of post-secondary education. This may be in the form of a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Some people enter the occupation with just a high school diploma and learn through training on the job that is provided by the employer.


A high school student who is interested in the medical assistant field should take classes in chemistry, anatomy, and biology. Most people that are interested in the field will graduate from a post-secondary program as the majority of employers prefer to hire individuals who have completed one of the medical assistant programs that are available.


Medical assistant programs are available at many community colleges, through vocational schools, technical schools, and at universities. The certificate program will typically take about a year to complete. There are some junior and community colleges that provide 2 year medical assistant programs, which will lead to an associate’s degree. Each of the programs will have both classroom and laboratory sections that must be completed. These courses will include lessons about medical terminology and anatomy.


Most states do not require any type of formal education for becoming a medical assistant. However, there are some states that will require medical assistants to graduate from a program that is accredited or pass an examination in order to work in this position. Some states will require both completion of a course as well as passing an exam in order to perform more advanced tasks such as giving injections and taking x-rays.


Qualities of a Good Medical Assistant


A medical assistant will need to possess certain qualities in order to be successful. These include:



  • Being detail oriented: you must be able to be precise when recording patient information such as vital signs
  • Analytical skills: a medical assistant will need to be able to follow medical charts and medical diagnoses. Coding may be required for insurance purposes
  • Technical skills: medical assistants need to be able to use basic clinical instruments in order to take vital signs of a patient such as blood pressure and heart rate.

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