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  • Medical Assisting: Is This Allied Health Profession Right for You?

    Do you like helping others? Are you good at multi-tasking? Are you looking for a possible career in a field that's in demand and has excellent job prospects?(1) If you'd like the opportunity to work in healthcare, with targeted assignments in administration, diagnostic procedures, and patient care, then a career in medical assisting may be an excellent career choice for you.

    Think about it: Sooner or later, most of us assume the role of patient - which means that most of us at some point need the help of skilled doctors and their capable staff members.

    Staff members like medical assistants, who typically help to ensure that medical offices run smoothly and may assist doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals with patient procedures including appointment scheduling and inpatient/outpatient admissions, patient medical histories and vital signs, examination procedures and treatments, phlebotomy, specimen collection and processing, diagnostic tests, screening and follow-up of patients' test results, and more.

    Many Medical Assisting diploma programs can be completed in as few as 8 or 9 months for full-time students. Instruction usually consists of clinical labs that work together with traditional courses in the health sciences.

    Coursework typically may include a study of the nervous and digestive systems, the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, the muscular/skeletal systems, endocrinology and reproduction, and pharmacology and disease transmission.

    The fundamentals of patient care and communication, clinical procedures, administrative and insurance procedures, and basic computer skills may also be covered. In addition to traditional coursework, hands-on clinical training and an externship are typical program requirements.

    Multiple clinical labs allow students the opportunity to gain hands-on training in such fundamental practices and procedures as hematology, microbiology, bacteriology, urinalysis, bandaging techniques, sterilization techniques, biohazard management, asepsis, dosage calculations, CPR, EKG tracing, pulmonary function testing, microscope use, OB/GYN examinations, ultrasounds, electroneurostimulation techniques, and the use of traction. Externships give students the chance to apply their learned skills in an actual job setting.

    Whether you choose to work in a medical office, a clinic, a hospital, or an assisted-living facility, these courses and labs are designed to prepare you for the various scenarios you may face as a Medical Assistant.

    (1) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-6