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A Healthcare Career as a Medical Assistant

HealthcareEven though there’s a lot of uncertainty in healthcare these days with what’s going on in Washington, D.C., one thing is undeniable—many of the specialty fields within the industry are poised for serious growth.

A position that is well positioned as any other is that of the medical assistant.

With projections of 23 percent growth nationwide between 2014 and 2024 by the U.S. Department of Labor—as well as high growth in Illinois within that same time frame—opportunities for those looking for a new career as a medical assistant are abundant.

If that sounds like you, it only makes sense that you have a full understanding of what medical assistants do and what skills make someone well suited for the profession.

One of the unique aspects of medical assistants is that—unlike physicians and nurses who deal strictly with patient care and administrators who work exclusively on front-office responsibilities—MAs are asked to do both.

Some of the clinical duties medical assistants are responsible for include:

  • Prepping patients for exams
  • Taking vital signs
  • Phlebotomy
  • Taking medical histories
  • Assisting during medical exams
  • Educating patients and families
  • Removing sutures
  • Collecting lab specimens for testing

Some of the administrative tasks medical assistants perform include:

  • Handling phone calls
  • Greeting patients
  • Medical billing and record keeping
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Helping patients with insurance forms

Clearly, medical assistants represent some of the more versatile members of the healthcare team. As a result, it takes a distinctive set of skills and characteristics for someone to thrive and succeed in the field. Some of these include:

Organization—every day on the job requires medical assistants to stay on top of many different tasks, covering patient care and administrative work. So having outstanding organizational skills is essential in order to ensure that those jobs are done efficiently and well.

Compassion—much of what medical assistants do involves working closely with patients before, during, and after medical exams—patients who are often scared, uncertain, and have a lot of questions about their medical condition. Being able to relate on a human level is crucial, and to do that takes a high level of compassion.

Communication—visit any medical facility and you’ll see an environment that is very busy and fast-paced. With so much going on, medical assistants must have excellent communication skills in order to ensure the effective treatment of patients and streamlined front-office operations.

Adaptability—given the unique dual role that medical assistants play, being adaptable and able to shift focus on a dime is an important skill. One second you may be dealing with an insurance representative about a patient’s bill over the phone, and the next you may be administering a flu shot to a young child.

Technology—advances in technology have impacted healthcare in many different ways. If you’re interested in a career as a medical assistant, it’s important that you bring a level of comfort working with various software programs and are open to learning and being trained to work with new technology.

Northwestern College’s Medical Assistant Program

Established in 1902, Northwestern College has a rich history of serving students in the greater Chicago area who are looking for a quality education and training that’s focused and comprehensive. With programs in healthcare and business, Northwestern College offers accredited programs and is founded on the mission of meeting the distinct needs of each student who walks through its doors.

The Medical Assisting program at Northwestern College is designed to prepare students for entry into a career as a medical assistant in any number of different settings. The program’s goals include preparing students:

  • To prepare competent entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills) and affective (behavior) learning domains.
  • To provide academic assessment of critical thinking, effective communication, and personal responsibility of students in the medical assisting program.
  • To prepare graduates of the medical assisting program to be self-assured, responsible, and competent in the field of medical assisting.
  • To provide the community with skilled medical assistants that interacts with patients in a professional and empathic manner.
  • To prepare students to become (AMT) Registered Medical Assistants.
  • To encourage lifelong learning opportunities.

The program’s curriculum is designed to prepare students with the following skills:

  • Preparing patients for examination
  • Taking vital signs and medical histories
  • Assisting with examinations, treatments, and office surgeries
  • Performing laboratory procedures and electrocardiograms
  • Instructing patients in preparing for X-ray and laboratory examinations
  • Communicating after-care instructions
  • Assuming medical office responsibilities
  • Working with healthcare computers and IT systems

The Medical Assisting certificate program prepares students to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credentialing exam administered by American Medical Technologists. The RMA certificate is recognized throughout the medical assisting profession. The RMA credential means a professional edge, increased prestige in the workplace, and increased job opportunities. Classes are conveniently available at Northwestern College’s Oak Lawn campus. The Medical Assisting program presents an ideal path toward a fulfilling career in healthcare.

A Powerful Combination

With all of the professional opportunities afforded to those looking for a career as a medical assistant, students can find a powerful combination of success with Northwestern College’s Medical Assistant program.

Northwestern College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, 230 S. LaSalle St., Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604, www.hlcommission.org.