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Medical Assistant Career Path

Medical assistant is one of the fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you enjoy helping people and your personality traits include integrity, dependability and attention to detail, you might want to consider a career as a medical assistant.

Medical assistant opportunities are plentiful, which should make it easier to find a job when you transfer duty assignments. Entering the field typically requires postsecondary education and a certificate, which usually takes less than a year to earn, but some employers hire assistants with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Most employers require some experience, so if you’re taking courses to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, make sure to take advantage of any available internships or externships.

Medical assistants work alongside physicians, mainly in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics. They are often cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical duties. As a medical assistant, you may find employment with businesses including the following:

  • Doctor’s offices and specialty offices, for example, podiatry, chiropractic, ophthalmology
  • Hospitals and outpatient surgical centers
  • Emergency service organizations
  • Urgent care centers
  • Nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics and home health agencies
  • Medical supply businesses
  • Insurance providers
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Possible duties of the position may include the following:

Administrative duties

  • Using computer applications
  • Answering telephones, greeting patients and scheduling appointments
  • Updating and filing patient medical records
  • Coding and filling out insurance forms
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
  • Handling correspondence, and bookkeeping

Clinical duties

  • Taking medical histories
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Preparing patients for examination and assisting the physician during exams
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens and performing basic laboratory tests
  • Instructing patients about medication and special diets
  • Preparing and administering medications and authorizing prescription refills as directed
  • Drawing blood, conducting electrocardiograms, removing sutures and changing dressings

When you start your job search, investigate opportunities with Military Spouse Employment Partnership companies and organizations, which may include the following:

As you gain experience and proficiency, you may decide to work toward a management position, focus on a specialty or choose to teach others. Take small steps throughout your career to be prepared for advancement opportunities. Attitude, work ethic and skills proficiency are all important as you work toward career advancement. Possible advancement options include the following:

  • Clinical team leader
  • Lead medical assistant
  • Medical office manager
  • Clinical office manager
  • Medical assistant instructor
  • Medical records manager
  • Health care administration
  • Executive medical office secretary
  • Transcription supervisor

Professional organizations and networking

Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies in the medical field. Professional organizations are great ways to continue your education through workshops and conferences, which will add to your transferable skill set as you move. Networking with other professionals in your industry will give you an edge in meeting the right people who may have the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location. They may give you more information about the field and suggest other networking contacts, which could lead to job openings. Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career.

Next steps

If you are considering starting your career as a medical assistant, review the Research Occupations tool on the MySECO website. Take the Strong Interest Explorer and Myers-Briggs self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with this career path. Investigate whether you are eligible for My Career Advancement Account Scholarship assistance and use the Scholarship Finder to see if money is available to help fund any classes or certifications you might need.

If you move due to a PCS, your service branch can now help reimburse licensure and certification costs up to $500. Each service has its own procedures for reimbursement, so be sure you know what your branch requires. Learn more.

Contact a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website for assistance with choosing a school, finding scholarship funding, searching for a job or overcoming challenges.

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