The healthcare field is booming, with plenty of career opportunities for people interested in medicine and helping others. One healthcare job that’s in particularly high demand is that of a medical assistant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that opportunities for medical assistants will increase by 18% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average.1
Medical assistants (MA) work directly with patients in physicians’ offices and hospitals. They also take on some administrative responsibilities at healthcare facilities.
If working as an MA sounds appealing, the first step is to sign up for a career certificate program. The program will lay the foundation for your career. Here’s a look at what you’ll learn in a typical certificate program.
Anatomy and Physiology Basics
You don’t have to know much about the human body when you sign up for a medical assisting program. One of the first classes you’ll take will cover the basics of human anatomy and physiology. In your intro course, you’ll learn about the various systems in the body. You’ll also learn about how they work together.
Your introductory courses might also show you how to perform certain emergency procedures. You’ll learn how to perform CPR and other first aid. You’ll also learn about the vital signs of the body and how to measure them. For example, you’ll learn how to take a patient’s blood pressure.
How to Draw Blood
Phlebotomy classes are usually part of a medical assisting program, as many MAs have to take samples of patients’ blood and prepare those samples for lab tests. You can expect a hands-on experience during your phlebotomy training. You’ll practice taking blood from your classmates and they’ll practice drawing blood from you.
Along with learning how to draw blood, you’ll also learn how to run certain laboratory tests, such as separating plasma and blood and measuring the volume of red blood cells in a sample/
How to Perform Diagnostic Tests
You’ll also learn how to perform a range of diagnostic tests in your training to become a medical assistant. Your career certificate program might have a separate course that teaches you how to perform electrocardiographs (EKG) or how to assist with EKGs.
Electrocardiographs are imaging tests that many healthcare providers use to diagnose cardiovascular problems. They can detect the narrowing of the arteries and irregular heartbeats. An EKG can also determine if a patient has had a heart attack in the past or if a certain treatment, such as a pacemaker, is working.
Medical Office Administration
Since MAs perform both clinical and administrative roles, your training will also teach you the basics of medical office administration.
Administration training is most likely going to be broken up into several courses. In one class, you’ll learn how to schedule patients and check them in for their appointments. You’ll also learn about HIPAA and what you need to do to ensure patient privacy during each encounter.
In another course, you’ll learn about the basics of medical billing and working with insurers. You’ll learn how to verify patients’ insurance coverage and how to prepare patient records and bills with the appropriate billing codes.
You’ll also learn the basics of running an office, such as the various roles in a healthcare facility and how to handle employee issues.
Medical assistants don’t prescribe medications, but learning how medicines affect the body is a key part of a medical assisting program. During a pharmacology class, you’ll learn the names of commonly prescribed medications and what they do. You’ll also learn about the various doses and how to administer medications to patients.
A medical assisting certificate program should have a practicum or externship component that lets you gain experience working in a real healthcare facility. Whether you work in a physician’s office, hospital, or another setting depends on your interests and career goals. Whether you focus on clinical tasks or administrative ones also depends on your goals.
The practicum gives you a chance to develop your skills further and to get a taste for what the typical work day is like for a medical assistant.
Enroll in a Medical Assisting Career Certificate at Orange Technical College Today
Orange Technical College’s Medical Assisting career certificate program prepares you for a career in the fast-growing healthcare field. The programs are offered at three of our campuses in Florida, the Avalon, East, and West campuses. To learn more about how to enroll, contact us today.
Medical Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-1