Medical assistants play vital roles in today’s healthcare industry, helping doctors perform a number of clinical and administrative duties. These include administering medications, checking vital signs, drawing blood, noting patient medical histories, processing insurance claims and more.
The demand for medical assistants is high, with a projected 19% increase in jobs between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Where are those jobs opening up for certified medical assistants? Here are some places where medical assistants can apply their versatile skills in the healthcare industry.
Physician offices and medical clinics
More than 50% of all medical assistants work at a physician’s office or clinic. Private practices usually have recurring patients – you will see the same people throughout the years. In hospitals, you rarely see the same patients return. If you prefer working in an environment with a sense of community, this may be a good place to work. Medical assistants in private practice offices may be responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks.
This is the second highest employer of medical assistants in the United States (about 15%). Hospitals often operate 24/7 and medical assistants in hospitals may be scheduled to work at different times of the day. Depending on where you are staffed, your workday may vary between clinical and administrative tasks. Because most hospitals have emergency services, being able to work in high pressure situations will be a plus. Many hospitals are major employers in their region, and often offer competitive pay and benefits.
Outpatient care centers are not quite a clinic, and neither are they a hospital. These are usually medical offices that provides services that don’t require an overnight stay. Services that may be provided here are minor surgery, lab tests, or psychiatric outpatient care. As a medical assistant in an outpatient facility, you might perform both administrative and clinical tasks. Many outpatient clinics are open on the weekends, but are less stressful than hospitals, where much of the patient care is urgent.
Whether in a wing of a hospital or in a private practice, there is a need for pediatric medicine in every city. Becoming a pediatric medical assistant is a great way to start your career, gain experience, and springboard to other career paths. If you have a heart for working with children this may be a good place for you to work. You’ll also need the ability to communicate well with both adults and children. Having patience when there is an office full of kids on a busy day is also paramount.
For medical assistants who are interested in women’s health, working in an obstetrician-gynecologist’s office can be the best choice. This type of office will have more regular hours than a hospital. The MA is also tasked with many important responsibilities in an OB-GYN practice. You will have to take vital signs, keep accurate patient records and documentation, schedule appointments, and answer patient questions. This medical assistant role will likely require you to perform both clinical and administrative tasks.
Medical Research Centers / Clinical trials
Another path you can take as a medical assistant is working for medical research centers that are conducting clinical trial or other research. You may perform clinical tasks for research participants by helping collect samples, preparing samples for diagnosis, or administering tests. Administrative tasks are also available, inputting participant information, and documenting data.
Clinical trials are another place where you may be employed. These are required for any new drugs entering the market, as new medicines must be approved by the FDA.
Medical and clinical research would allow you to work alongside scientists trying to advance the knowledge of medicine through research and development.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4% of all medical assistants in the US work in chiropractic offices. Like other specialized forms of medical practice, like ophthalmology and podiatry, MA’s in chiropractic offices will see recurring clientele. These offices generally don’t perform many clinical procedures, so your tasks would be mostly administrative. If you are a person who is well-organized and interacts well with people, working in a chiropractic office is a viable option.
In a diagnostic lab, tests are carried out on clinical samples. These can include any types of labs that test blood, urine, or other body tissue. Examples would be biopsies, blood testing and screening, drug testing, X-rays, blood sugar scans, MRIs, CT scans, hemoglobin tests, thyroid testing, or antibody tests.
For some of these medical assisting positions, being certified for phlebotomy is necessary, though there are also MA jobs that are administrative, or do not involve potential exposure to blood.
Retirement facilities or nursing homes
Medical assistant jobs are in demand, partially because of a rapidly aging U.S. population. As people age, they usually need more medical care. A logical place to put the skills of a medical assistant to use is a retirement facility, nursing home or assisted living facility. Many of the residents are not sick; they are just elderly and need assistance. In many cases, medical assistants can administer their medication, give injections or check vitals. They may also assist residents with their daily hygiene, help them get around in wheelchairs and with walkers, provide first aid and handle basic physiotherapy sessions. In addition, because many retirement facilities have their own on-staff physicians, medical assistants can be a big help to them.
Many of these retirement homes offer everything residents need, including medical services. Interestingly, many of these facilities hire more medical assistants than physicians, as the residents are still in good health and may have their own primary care doctors.
Psychiatric Care and Behavioral Health
Some branches of local hospitals or psychiatric centers employ medical assistants. Your role may be either administrative or clinical. These may outpatient offices, private practices, or branches of regional medical centers.
Palliative care facility
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation may effectively eradicate some or all of the disease, but both come with side effects (pain, nausea, fatigue, muscle weakness, insomnia, etc.) and disrupt quality of life. Palliative care helps relieve the symptoms and helps patients and families live the best way possible for as long as possible. Medical assistants who work in a palliative care facility can assist cancer patients with their daily care, administer medication, change dressings and lend support. They are also an excellent resource for families of patients because they can keep them up to date on the course of treatment, handle administrative tasks and offer emotional support.
A medical assistant who enjoys (or requires) schedule flexibility might decide that working in home healthcare is a good option. Many people who need regular health monitoring choose to stay in their homes rather than in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility. Others may need post-hospitalization follow-up care. In these cases, a medical assistant can provide care in the patient’s home. Some of the duties may be similar to those required in an assisted living facility, such as checking vitals, helping with mobility issues and providing medical social services.
A medical assistant is critically important to the smooth operation of a doctor’s office, hospital or medical clinic, and his or her duties are split between administrative and clinical responsibilities. If you choose to work for an insurance company, you will use more of the administrative skills you’ve learned. You will be able to understand patient medical records and be adept at organizing hospital admissions, lab services and insurance claims. Because you will know medical terminology and basic medical care, you would be a valuable resource to an insurance company.
Four branches of the U.S. military – the Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard – need medical assistants to help on bases and on the battlefield. Depending on the branch of the military you choose, you may be expected to complete additional training, including basic training that all personnel are required to take. As a medical assistant enlisted in the military, you would work with various teams of healthcare professionals in clinics on land or aboard ships. If you are deployed overseas, you would work in a mobile field hospital. If active military duty is not for you, perhaps work for the Veterans Administration (VA) in a hospital, outpatient clinic or rehab facility.
Though you may think this is an odd workplace to have on this list, consider that some prisons have the population of a small town, when you add up inmates and prison staff. These prison populations also need medical care, and usually have medical staff on payroll. As a medical assistant working in the prison infirmary, you would help give prisoners medical care doing regular medical assistant tasks.
Colleges and Universities
Similar to the last workplace we mentioned, some colleges or universities have a large amount of people who stay on campus, including students and faculty. Some of these universities have their own on-site hospitals. Medical assistants who work in university hospitals have the same roles and responsibilities as in a regular hospital. This may be an option you consider if one of your goals later in your career is to become a medical assistant teacher or instructor.
How to become a medical assistant
Medical assistants require comprehensive training in administrative, clinical and laboratory procedures. MTI College prepares students for a career in medical assistance in less than a year with impressive coursework that encompasses:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical protocol and procedures in clinics and laboratories
- Front-office practices, including coding and billing procedures
- Patient relations
- Medical law and ethics
Additionally, a required 160-hour off-campus externship provides hands-on experience in a professional healthcare facility setting that gets you ready to hit the ground running.
Studying to become a medical assistant at MTI College offers additional benefits, including:
- The flexibility of a new program that allows you to take classes just three times a week
- Preparation for the National Certification for Medical Assisting (NCCT) exam. Exam can be taken on campus during class hours
- Access to MTI’s job placement assistance after graduation
Once you complete your medical assistant program at MTI College, you should be proficient in the skills needed to perform diverse duties in the healthcare field and can look forward to an in-demand career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth of the medical assistant field on the national level is expected to increase by 19 percent through 2029.
Contact MTI College today to study for a career as a medical assistant, a role that is critically important in the healthcare industry.