For those who are interested in a career in healthcare, but also can’t afford to spend years in school waiting to get started, medical assisting is a perfect opportunity. A way to step into the medical field and make a positive, caring difference in the lives of patients in less time than you think. We’re talking months, not years.
But let’s start at the beginning:
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants work throughout the healthcare systems, in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, long-term care facilities, and more. Your tasks and duties might vary some, depending on where you work, but medical assistants are generally trained to work on both the administrative (“front office”) side and the clinical side, with direct patient care. They do everything from recording patient history and information, measuring vital signs, scheduling patient appointments, preparing blood samples, and assisting with exams. Maintaining patient health records is another important aspect of the job. The fact that this position is so versatile and vital is likely one of the reasons why it’s expected to grow 19% over the next few years.
What Are the Steps You Need to Take to Become a Medical Assistant?
In the state of California, every medical assistant must have their high school diploma or GED. If you don’t have that yet, a school like Summit College can help you to earn your GED at the same time you train for a new career. Enrolling in an accredited medical assisting program is one of the most common ways that medical assistants get the education they need to pass the necessary certification exams and succeed in the workplace.
Once you have graduated from a qualified medical assistant program, you can apply to be certified by the California Certifying Board for Medical Assistants.
What Should You Look For in a Medical Assistant Program?
Medical assisting is a hands-on career, so it requires a program that offers a lot of hands-on instruction and training. It should train you in both the administrative side — like insurance and billing, office management, professionalism, and communication — and the clinical side — like pharmacology, infection control, musculoskeletal systems, and emergency procedures.
At Summit College, our Medical Assistant – Administrative and Clinical diploma program teaches you all of these real-world skills in just 36 weeks. The program is capped off by a 4-week, 160-hour externship that gives you practical experience in an actual work environment.
What Kinds of Jobs Am I Qualified for as a Medical Assistant?
It somewhat depends on the level of education you’ve received, but as an example, Summit College’s medical assisting program prepares you for jobs like:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- Doctor’s Assistant
- Medical Office Assistant
- Clinical Assistant
- Outpatient Surgery Assistant
- Medical Secretary
- Medical Receptionist
- Patient Relations Representative
- Front Office Manager
- Health Unit Coordinator
- Medical Office Specialist
- Patient Coordinator
How Much Does a Medical Assistant Make in California?
Medical assistants are often paid on an hourly wage, with many employers offering additional benefits like overtime pay, paid leave, and health insurance. The average hourly wage for California medical assistants according to Indeed.com is $17.57 per hour, 9% higher than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the nationwide average annual wage for medical assistants is $35,850, with the top 10 percent earning $50,850.
If you’re interested in getting started in an in-demand, caring career as a medical assistant, Summit College is ready to help. Contact us today to talk to one of our advisors about your career goals.