Alternative Careers for Medical Assistants

Two colleagues shake hands during a work meeting

Graduating from a medical assisting program doesn’t mean you’re confined to a singular career path – this training can open doors to a wide variety of possibilities within the healthcare industry. From supporting medical teams in a large hospital to helping patients in their homes, professionals with medical assistant training can find themselves doing work that feels the most fulfilling for them. Northwestern College is based in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and serves the greater Chicago area. Here, we provide insight into some of the most diverse positions outside of traditional medical assistant jobs and the typical responsibilities for each.

Finding the Right Healthcare Job for You

Many of the skills gained in a medical assistant program can be applied to other careers. And while this program can lead directly to a desired position, it also can serve as a stepping stone for additional educational opportunities. Earning your medical assisting certification may lead to roles you never expected, such as:

Medical Office Assistant

Medical office assistants handle many of the routine administrative tasks within a private practice or larger healthcare facility. Common duties include the following:

  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Coding patient medical information
  • Answering telephones
  • Scheduling appointments for new and recurrent patients

EKG Technician

An electrocardiogram (EKG) technician is an essential part of a cardiovascular healthcare team. They are responsible for conducting tests that help physicians evaluate a patient’s cardio activity and pinpoint possible health issues. These tests are performed while the patient is either at rest or in action, depending on the examination. While they’re widely used for diagnostic purposes, EKGs also may be necessary for therapeutic or research purposes.

Phlebotomy Technician

Employed by hospitals, laboratories, outpatient care centers, and other healthcare facilities, phlebotomy technicians (phlebotomists), are responsible for drawing blood. They take blood for testing and research purposes, as well as transfusions and donations. Other tasks include:

  • Verifying patient information
  • Labeling blood samples
  • Maintaining needles, vials, and other instruments

Health Unit Clerk

Health unit clerks, or health unit coordinators, specialize in administrative and clerical duties that support physicians and nurses within healthcare facilities. While a medical assisting program can provide the training needed to succeed in this role, additional certification from the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) can help your resume stand out among other job candidates.

Radiologic Technologist

Many medical assistants transition to the field of radiologic technology. With a foundation in medical assisting, these professionals can complete additional training from a qualified program, advancing their skills and career potential. Common duties include:

  • Taking diagnostic X-rays, CT scans, and mammograms
  • Working with medical teams to evaluate images
  • Maintaining health records

Medical Claims Examiner

Medical claims examiners are detail-oriented professionals tasked with reviewing insurance claims after submission. They make sure each claim strictly adheres to current guidelines and help adjusters with complex claims as needed. Often employed by insurance companies, they may be responsible for approvals and denials, as well as further inquiries into specific claims.

Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists are also called operating room technicians. Their main responsibility includes preparing operating rooms, arranging the equipment, and assisting physicians during surgical procedures. Tasks often include the following:

  • Helping patients and surgical teams get ready for procedures
  • Maintaining a sterile work environment
  • Taking surgical supply inventory
  • Handling laboratory specimens
  • Prepping incision sites

While some states do not require surgical technologists to be certified, others do. Certification can be obtained through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Sitting for this certification exam requires program completion from an accredited school.

Public Health Inspector

Public health inspectors evaluate private and public facilities to identify possible health concerns and help prevent disease or injury. While investigating food-handling processes, chemical storage processes, equipment sterilization techniques, and other aspects, they also perform the following duties across a variety of industries:

  • Enforce current health and environmental regulations
  • Investigate incidents to pinpoint the cause and possible means for future prevention
  • Educate employers and their teams on the best practices for health and safety
  • Strategize ways to improve public health
  • Prepare reports on findings

Nursing Assistant

Working under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN), nursing assistants are involved in direct patient care, managing basic needs and daily living tasks. Nursing professionals may dispense medication, depending on their level of training and the state where they work, and perform several other duties, such as:

  • Taking vital signs
  • Bathing and personal care
  • Patient transfers between beds and wheelchairs
  • Recording and reporting health concerns

Home Health Aide

Home health aides are tasked with assisting patients with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and other ailments inside their homes. Home healthcare aides assist with daily living, as well as monitor physical, mental, and social well-being. Responsibilities often include:

  • Bathing, toileting, and grooming
  • Checking vital signs
  • Arranging transportation for appointments and social events
  • Shopping for groceries and preparing meals
  • Performing light housekeeping tasks

Begin Your New Career at Northwestern College

Northwestern College offers comprehensive training for medical assistant jobs, as well as a variety of other positions. To learn more about our healthcare education programs for students in Oak Lawn, IL, and the greater Chicago area, request info from us today.