Clinical Medical Assistants
Clinical Medical Assistants are in very high demand in the modern field of healthcare. Continuously changing regulations in the industry place increasing pressure upon healthcare providers and facilities. This means that physicians need qualified medical assistants to help with many of the daily duties of the office. Clinical Medical Assistants are vital members of the team and work to administer medications, assist with minor procedures, obtain laboratory specimens, perform electrocardiograms, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country. If you have an interest in entering the field of healthcare and want a career you can train for quickly, becoming a Clinical Medical Assistant is an ideal choice for you.
Because physicians often have very large patient loads, they use Clinical Medical Assistants as valuable aids to complete many of the routine tasks involved in patient care. Because the duties performed by these medical assistants are determined and governed by state law, they may vary from one place to the next. However, typical duties include recording vital signs, taking medical histories, preparing patient and rooms for examinations, assisting with examinations, and explaining treatments and procedures to patients. The Clinical Medical Assistant also may dispose of contaminated supplies, sterilize instruments, collect and prepare laboratory specimens, and perform basic laboratory tests.
In very small offices, the Clinical Medical Assistant may also be responsible for a number of other duties, including maintaining and ordering supplies, completing patient charts and insurance claims, answering phones, scheduling appoints, and more. The duties of these professionals are performed under the supervision of physicians and other licensed healthcare providers.
What Makes Clinical Medical Assistants Different?
Clinical Medical Assistants will largely or solely work alongside the physician in providing patient care, whereas Administrative Medical assistants take care of the nonmedical aspects of the practice by completing paperwork, filing records, handling insurance, performing billing and bookkeeping, answering phones, and more. There are also specialized medical assistants who work strictly in ophthalmic offices, podiatric offices, cardiac offices, and other specialized practices.
This profession involves working in a clean, well-lit environment with a large amount of interpersonal interactions. Many Clinical Medical Assistants work a standard 40-hour week in physicians’ offices, but some may work in other facilities that offer part-time work or that may require evening or weekend hours. The work is often hectic and many assistants find themselves handling several tasks at once. As such, the job can include some stressful moments but typically provides a very high level of job satisfaction.
Ideal Traits of a Clinical Medical Assistant
This career is not for everyone. After all, it takes a special person to handle the multitude of job responsibilities while still managing to be kind, understanding, and empathetic to patients and others. The ideal candidate for this job should have very strong communication skills. This includes the ability to listen well, share information clearly, and answer questions fully and succinctly. It is also important to be empathetic to the feelings of the patient, to always show courtesy, and to have a warm, friendly demeanor. Clinical Medical Assistants must be able to tolerate high levels of stress and difficult patients. He or she must also be extremely dependable, self-motivated, and have a high level of integrity. Finally, the ideal person for this career should be able to multitask flawlessly, must have a high level of attention to detail, and should possess excellent visual acuity and manual dexterity. If you possess these traits, this career is ideal for you.
Education and Training
There are multiple paths by which you can become a Clinical Medical Assistant. The first involves having a high school diploma or GED and completing on-the-job training. While this option is the fastest way to enter the field, those without formal education often have fewer job opportunities and earn lower salaries. In addition, many employers now exclusively hire candidates who have completed a formal training program because they feel that these candidates are more dedicated and better prepared to meet the rigorous demands of the profession.
The second path to entering this profession is to earn a diploma in Clinical Medical Assisting. These programs typically take a year or less to complete, and can be very affordable. These programs are typically offered through vocational or technical schools, community colleges, or through online programs.
Finally, you may choose to earn an associate’s degree in Clinical Medical Assisting from a community college, university, or online degree program. These programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete and often lead to increased job opportunities, opportunities for advancement, and higher salaries.
Regardless of the path you choose, your training will include such subjects as anatomy and physiology, clinical and diagnostic procedures, pharmaceutical principles, medical terminology, first aid, laboratory procedures, medical technology, sterilization procedures, and more. If you choose a formal training program, look for those that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Although there are currently no states that require Clinical Medical Assistants to become certified, taking this step can open many doors of opportunity and boost your earning potential. If you completed a medical assisting program that covered both clinical and administrative skills, you may earn your Certified Medical Assistant credential through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Registered Medical Assistant credential through the American Medical Technologists (AMT). If you only studied the clinical aspects of the job, you may earn your Certified Clinical Medical Assistant credential through the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Each certification requires passing an examination and paying a fee that ranges from $100 to $250.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of clinical medical assisting is expected to grow by as much as 34 percent by the year 2018. This is a much faster growth rate than the average for all occupations, meaning that those who enter this field should have ample job prospects upon graduation. Best of all, this bright outlook is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as new medical laws and regulations place increasing pressure on physicians and the healthcare industry.
This career also offers a stable financial future. The BLS lists the average salary for clinical medical assistants as $30,000 a year. This amount may vary depending upon the type of employer, location, education and training, experience, and location. Those who are formally educated and who have earned certification can expect to earn at the top end of the pay range. In addition, many Clinical Medical Assisting positions provide full employment benefits, which may include health, life, and dental insurance, sick and vacation pay, a retirement plan, and more.
Finding a Job
There are a wide variety of resources available for those seeking a job in this profession. A great place to start is the job placement services of your college or university. If you prefer searching for a job independently, websites like Monster, CareerBuilder, or Indeed are excellent resources. MedHunting is also a great place to find available clinical medical assisting jobs. The important thing is to expand your search as widely as possible, use all your resources, and apply to every position within your geographic area. Even if you do not land your ideal job right away, you can be gaining valuable working experience that can help you land that dream position when it comes available.
The field of clinical medical assisting is one that has a lot to offer. From highly desirable hours and working conditions to a lucrative salary and benefits, this job has everything. If you are a motivated, compassionate person who truly wants to help others and make a difference in your world, there has never been a better time to get your education in clinical medical assisting.