Medical assistants are found in all types of medical facilities working to ensure that both administrative and clinical operations are managed efficiently. Regardless of the setting, their goal is always to provide support services so that physicians can devote their time to seeing patients. Medical assistants perform administrative, clinical, and clerical tasks such as preparing lab samples, scheduling appointments, taking vital signs, filing records, and much more.
While some have entered the field with no more than a high school education, most employers now are looking for the best assistants, showing preference to those with a formal education in medical assisting. This gives registered medical assistants an edge in the job market.
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What Is a Registered Medical Assistant?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who wish to become a Registered Medical Assistant must have at least five years of experience and on-the-job training or a medical assisting degree. In addition, applicants must be free of felonies and must pay a $95 fee to apply for the exam. In addition, those who do not have a formal education, or who completed the program over four years previously must get a recommendation from an employer or supervisor. Registered Medical Assistants have similar credentials to Certified Medical Assistants. Both have a much better chance of gaining the best jobs and earning a higher salary than those who are unregistered.
The ideal candidate to work as a Registered Medical Assistant is one who is compassionate, outgoing, and a good listener. This job requires assistants to work with people who are going through very difficult times and who need someone to listen and understand to their needs. Medical assistants must be adaptable, because they must quickly switch between administrative and medical duties.
Because of the personal and sensitive nature of the information involved, medical assistants must be nonjudgmental and able to treat all patients equally while maintaining a high level of confidentiality. They must also be able to solve problems and to think on their feet so they can effectively handle any situation that arises, whether it is a billing problem or an upset patient.
Finally, a good Registered Medical Assistant will have excellent written and verbal communication skills and will be highly organized. During the course of a day, the medical assistant must communicate with patients, physicians, and coworkers. They must also be able to deal with several aspects of the practice simultaneously in an organized, efficient manner.
In addition the personality traits required, Registered Medical Assistants must also have a variety of job skills. They must be able to follow and understand medical charts, diagnoses, and treatment plans. They may also be required to perform medical coding for insurance and billing. This requires a working knowledge of medical procedures and terminology.
Since many office functions will be completed electronically, a Registered Medical Assistant must have a good working knowledge of computers as well as the software used in appointment scheduling, maintaining patient records, and billing. Finally, a Registered Medical Assistant needs to be familiar with the use of clinical instruments and other tools used to monitor patient vital signs and to gather medical information.
Nature of the Work
Registered Medical Assistants perform a large number of varied tasks during the course of a normal working day. While these duties vary greatly from one office to another, many Registered Medical Assistants handle both the clinical and administrative duties of a practice and work under the supervision of a physician or office manager. In very large practices, the assistant may specialize in one area and work under the direction of a department manager.
The administrative duties of a Registered Medical Assistant often include greeting patients, answering telephones, and updating and filing patient records. They may also include handling office correspondence, scheduling patient appointments, filing insurance claims, and handling bookkeeping and billing tasks. In some clinics, the assistant may also be responsible for arranging for patient laboratory services and hospital admissions.
In addition to these administrative duties, there are also a great number of clinical tasks that may be part of the Registered Medical Assistant’s day. These duties are governed by state laws, and may vary from one location to another. Typically, clinical duties include recording vital signs, taking patient medical histories, and assisting the physician during examinations. The assistant may also be responsible for explaining procedures to patients, preparing patients for exams, and collecting and preparing lab specimens.
Registered Medical Assistants are often busy cleaning and sanitizing rooms and instruments and disposing of contaminated materials. They may also be found administering medications, changing dressings, removing sutures, drawing blood samples, and more under the direction of a physician. In a specialty clinic, the Registered Medical Assistant may have even more duties that are specific to the practice.
All of these tasks are completed in a clean, well-lighted professional environment. Typically, a Registered Medical Assistant works a standard 40-hour week, but may be required to work evenings, weekends, or even part-time.
Education and Training
The majority of employers prefer medical assistants who have completed formal training programs. Such programs are available through colleges, universities, community colleges, vocational schools, or online. These schools typically offer a one-year certificate program or a two-year associate’s degree program.
During training, students can expect to study anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and ethics as well as laboratory techniques, pharmaceutical principles, administration of medication, and first aid. The programs also cover topics such as typing, accounting, record keeping, transcription, patient relations, medical law, office practices, and much more. Quality, accredited programs culminate in an internship that provides students with hands-on experience as a medical assistant.
If you are looking for a promising medical career, becoming a Registered Medical Assistant will provide you with a great working environment, regular hours, and a salary of around $34,000 a year. This is one of the most promising careers you can enter, as the field is predicted to grow rapidly over the next decade. Best of all, you can enter this field with as little as 1-2 years of training.
If you want to become a registered medical assistant, it is strongly recommended to take online courses and start as soon as possible. We offer a large list of schools in your area. Click here to start your search.