Working in healthcare offers a great way to put your skills to use helping doctors, other medical staff, and patients. Whether you work in a medical office or hospital, being a clinical medical assistant can be a satisfying career. Medical assistants play an important role in helping patients receive quality medical care. Consider the following information while exploring career options in the medical field.
Clinical medical assistants are professionals who mainly focus on performing clinical tasks rather than administrative tasks. Some medical assistants mostly handle administrative tasks, such as answering phone calls and filling out health insurance forms. Clinical medical assistants might perform some administrative duties and tasks, but they can spend quite a bit of their time carrying out clinical tasks. This type of medical assisting career might be a good fit if you prefer handling tasks that directly involve patient care rather than performing office or administrative duties.
What kinds of responsibilities and duties do clinical medical assistants have? Learning more about the job description of this career, including typical duties and working environments, can help you better understand what to expect and determine whether a career as a clinical medical assistant may be a good fit for you.
The exact duties and responsibilities clinical medical assistants have can depend on state laws and regulations. In general, clinical medical assistants sterilize medical instruments and equipment, change dressings or remove sutures, take blood pressure and other vital signs, note patients’ medical histories, and assist doctors with exams. They might also update medical records, prepare blood samples for testing, and give medications or injections under a doctor’s supervision. Keep in mind that tasks such as administering medications and injections depend on state laws.
Clinical medical assistants can work in different kinds of medical settings. Medical assistants may work in private, local, or state hospitals; outpatient clinics or doctor’s offices; clinical laboratories; long-term medical care facilities; and group medical practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 57% of medical assistants work in doctors’ offices, roughly 15% work in hospitals, and around 8% work in outpatient care centers. These assistants usually work full-time, and those who work in medical facilities that are open around the clock might be expected to work holidays, weekends, and evenings. While some medical settings are busier than others, such as large hospitals, clinical medical assistants typically have a fast-paced work environment. If you plan on pursuing this kind of career, you’ll need to be comfortable handling a wide range of clinical tasks each day.
Some clinical medical assistants receive specialized training in a specific area of medicine. While general clinical medical assistants might help care for all patients, some specialize in caring for specific ages or conditions. For example, pediatric clinical medical assistants care for children, while geriatric clinical medical assistants care for elderly patients. Some clinical medical assistants specialize in cardiology, podiatry, chiropractic care, or orthopedics. Medical assistants with a specialization might have specific duties and responsibilities related to that area of medicine, such as learning to operate EKG machines for cardiology.
Medical assistants are not required to be certified by law. However, many medical organizations and practices require these assistants to have certification. Earning a certification could help you find more job opportunities as more medical organizations choose to hire clinical medical assistants who are certified. When you have certification, you’ll also have a chance to advance your career if you decide to become a nurse or focus on a particular specialization. Becoming certified as a clinical medical assistant involves taking an accredited training program and passing a certification exam. This shows employers that you have successfully met the strict requirements needed to earn your certification.
Medical assisting, including clinical medical assisting, is experiencing a high growth rate. According to the BLS, medical assistants have a job growth outlook of 16% through 2031. This is significantly higher than the average job outlook for all occupations in the U.S. As a clinical medical assistant with certification, you have the potential to find a wider range of job opportunities in the coming years.
As a certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA), you might have opportunities to increase your salary, especially as you gain experience. Keep in mind that salaries for CCMAs can vary based on the kind of medical setting you work in and other factors, such as the years of experience you have.
What kind of education do you need to become a clinical medical assistant? Although these assistants can find jobs with a high school diploma or GED, many employers prefer certification, which involves taking an approved training program at a college or university. These training programs, which generally take about a year to complete, help students practice the skills needed to work as a clinical medical assistant. In some cases, students can complete these programs in a shorter time frame.
In addition to taking an accredited training program, those who want to become a certified clinical medical assistant need to apply for and take a certification exam. This exam includes multiple-choice questions that assess medical assisting students’ knowledge and skills. Keep in mind that you’ll need to meet the eligibility requirements for the exam and take it within a certain timeframe as a completing student or a recent graduate. For example, the eligibility requirements for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) include completing a program with accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs; students may take the exam no more than 30 days before completing the training program and must take it within 12 months of graduation. You’ll also need to spend time preparing for your certification exam through careful study, practice tests, and more.
If you want to get started on a career as a clinical medical assistant, contact The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) about the Medical Assistant Certificate Program. With this program, you can complete your education requirements to prepare to become a certified medical assistant. Our on-campus blended delivery program, which provides two days a week of on-campus training with additional online studies, is available in several Texas locations, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, McAllen and San Antonio. This 36-week program can help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to work in clinical medical assisting. The program is also available online for added flexibility, and both the blended and online programs can help you prepare to take the certification credentialing exam.