Are you interested in becoming a medical assistant but want to know what training is involved? The training to become a medical assistant is both challenging and fun and prepares you for an exciting career!
What Type of Training Is Required for Medical Assisting?
While there may be some medical assistants who will train on the job, they will likely have very limited skills. If they start working at a larger physician’s office, they may only learn how to greet patients or schedule appointments. They may not be responsible for infection control. blood draws, or EKGs and may never know that they missed out on this training. When the time comes to change, get a promotion, or look for a new job at another medical facility, these shortcomings will hurt their chances.
The best and most robust training for medical assisting is offered at a vocational school. Not only do you learn how to become a medical assistant and perform all the tasks that are involved, but the program focuses only on medical assisting.
Some colleges may train you in medical assisting but would require a lot of liberal arts classes. If you are looking to start earning in under a year, then medical assisting training at a vocational school may be right for you.
Medical assistant training at a vocational school will make you a well-rounded employee. You will have full knowledge of all the clinical and clerical tasks that are required for work at a physician’s office, clinic, hospital, or other medical facility.
If you are competing against another candidate who was trained on the job, the new employer will understand that you may have a structured and complete education, not to mention that you have the drive to complete a diploma program. This diploma will also help you move up the ladder in a physician’s office or within the medical industry. The training you receive from a vocational school is well worth the time.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants work in doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals, supporting doctors and nurses by helping with clinical and clerical tasks. This allows the doctors and nurses to focus more on patient care. During an average day, a medical assistant will be trained for these tasks.
Phone Call Triage
As a medical assistant, you will answer the phone from time to time. Whether you regularly answer the phone or are filling in for someone who is busy, you are responsible for phone call triage.
This means you need to know how to categorize patients as they call in. If someone needs just a new appointment, you can put him or her on hold if another patient desperately needs to talk with the physician. A medical assistant is trained to identify and prioritize phone calls, so everyone is taken care of in a timely manner based on priority.
As a medical assistant, you may be the first person to greet patients when they enter a physician’s office. You will greet patients with a smile, helping them feel comfortable in a stressful situation.
You will walk them to the exam room and prepare them for the physician to do an exam. First, you will understand why they are at the physician’s office, get a medical and medication history, and then take vital signs. In-between patients, you will be responsible for infection control and sanitation of the room, furniture, and instruments. You may also stock supplies so that everything is ready as needed.
Taking Vital Signs
As a medical assistant, you will be responsible for taking patients’ vital signs every time they come into the physician’s office. It is important to establish a baseline when the patient is healthy to better understand when something is an issue.
You will take their temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. You may also take a person’s weight and oxygen saturation level. Identifying trends or issues in the vital signs can help the physician better diagnose and treat any ailments the patient may have.
Running Diagnostic Tests
Medical assistants are responsible for phlebotomy and administering EKGs. Phlebotomy is a test that draws blood and then analyzes it to find issues such as deficiencies or diseases. Blood draws are important to understand a condition that someone has, like diabetes, or to identify something that the patient is suffering from, like anemia.
An EKG is performed to examine the electrical signals in the heart and identify any issues such as a heart attack, arrhythmia, or heart failure. If the patient is experiencing any chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms, the physician will order an EKG to better understand what is going on.
The medical assistant will learn phlebotomy and how to administer an EKG in a medical assisting program.
Billing and Coding
Another important task that a medical assistant may perform in a physician’s office is processing billing and providing medical coding for charts and electronic health records.
If you are trained at a physician’s office, you may never know how to process billing, as this may be something a medical billing and coding specialist handles. This deficit in knowledge may hurt the practice as you deal with coding on a regular basis as a medical assistant.
During a medical assisting program, you learn the different coding protocols that insurance companies and Medicare use to process claims, like ICD-10, HCPCS, and CPT. Not only are these codes used by insurance companies, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also use these codes to follow health trends, supply proper funding, and stop epidemics. Learning billing and coding is important for the success of any medical assistant.
During a medical assisting program, you will learn how to properly educate patients on good nutrition, health and wellness topics, and home care. After patients undergo minor procedures at the physician’s office, you may help them understand how to take care of themselves at home to recover properly.
A patient may have questions for you about vaccines, blood tests, or an EKG that is ordered. During the medical assisting program, you will hone your communication skills in order to better educate your patients to keep them happy and healthy.
What Else Do You Learn During a Medical Assisting Program?
In addition to clinical and clerical duties, a medical assisting program teaches you about safety and confidentiality. A medical assisting program prepares you for your job with OSHA standards and HIPAA guidelines.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)‘s standards are fully explained during a medical assisting program for the health and safety standards in the workplace. As a medical assistant, these rules are both a protection and responsibility. Safety on the job is a team effort.
OSHA sets standards in the areas of exit routes, fire and electrical safety, blood-borne pathogens, radiation, staff notifications and training, injury and illness reporting, hazard communication, and on-site inspections.
Staff members must complete Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) training before starting their jobs and must retake the training at least once annually. Training must include information on the HIPAA law and specific policies and procedures since they vary. Vocational schools teach students the basics, while employers fill in the gaps with workplace-based education.
Be Prepared for Certification
Vocational schools also prepare you to get credentialed as a medical assistant. Graduates of some medical assisting programs may be eligible to take the certification exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and also American Medical Technologists (AMT).
Medical assistant programs prepare you to take the certification exam through lecture and hands-on training. Having a certification further shows your passion for medical assisting and proves your knowledge of the subject.
The training that it takes to become a medical assistant is important for success in your career. It opens up opportunities and most importantly gives you the confidence that you need to succeed as a medical assistant. Take the extra time to train for a medical assistant job at a vocational school, and it will be well worth the extra time.
Did learning about medical assisting training interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field?
The Medical Assistant program at Hunter Business School prepares competent, entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains required for professional practice.
The Medical Assistant program provides hands-on experience in a real medical setting where you can foster professional relationships with actual patients. Medical Assistant students spend 160 hours at an externship in a professional medical environment where they are supervised and taught in order to gain valuable on-the-job training.
Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.