Health care in this country is undergoing massive changes. The population is aging, access to health care services is expanding and, generally, the demand for health care is growing.
This means hospitals, private practices and other organizations need help. They need people who can handle both the administrative and the medical aspects of health care. In short, they need registered medical assistants.
While there isn’t a standard requirement of education for this role, those who undergo training and testing will be more appealing to the physicians and managers and department heads in health care. One route for those entering the field is to become a registered medical assistant.
What Does a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Do?
Registered medical assistants basically work alongside physicians to provide quality patient care. There are many expectations and responsibilities that go along with the position, especially for those who make the effort to become registered.
Medical assistants perform a variety of duties and fill numerous roles within a health-care setting. They assist with patient care by handling most, if not all, of the behind-the-scenes details.
Registered medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical duties in the health care setting. On the administrative side, registered medical assistants put their organizational skills to work updating and filing medical records, arranging surgeries and hospital admissions, and handling general correspondence.
Clinical responsibilities which may fall on the registered medical assistant provide the opportunity to be more closely involved with patient care. These could include talking to patients and explaining procedures, prepping patients for exams, and being a right hand to the physician in the exam room.
Sometimes the assistant’s clinical tasks are more along the lines of medical procedure. With proper education and training, they might draw blood, give medicines, or take out sutures.
It’s usually a full-time job, and it’s a meaningful one. Registered medical assistants ensure that a patient’s medical care flows smoothly and is done correctly. Each day will pose a variety of unique challenges.
Where They Work
Medical assistants can find fulfilling careers basically wherever there is health care. They work in hospitals, insurance companies and other large organizations associated with the medical field.
Additionally, many medical assistants work for private practices. This can be one doctor or a small group who share an office. The doctors can be general practitioners or specialists – all doctors need at least one medical assistant in the office.
The type of career pursued depends on the individual’s specific interests. Some assistants prefer administrative work over medical, while others are just the opposite. There are plenty of opportunities which emphasize specific areas. As a general rule, the smaller the practice, the more duties the assistant will perform.
Additionally, many medical assistants find it easy to transition into other medical fields, such as nursing. Most instruction will incorporate on-the-job experience in related fields, so medical assistants are able to complete additional certifications or degrees with relative ease.
What They Need to Know
There are two paths to becoming a registered medical assistant. Both involve intense training and testing.
The first path is for entry-level medical assistants. These assistants have no formal training but go through training on the job, under the supervision of a professional. After five years of experience, the assistant may then qualify to be registered.
The formal route involves schooling and testing. During the schooling phase, candidates take part in a program at a vocational school or community college. A medical assistant program can last between one and two years. Students learn medical terminology and technology, record keeping, and other administrative skills. Alongside administrative training, students also learn about the medical aspects. This includes lab techniques, clinical procedures, and basic medical training.
To become a registered medical assistant, a candidate must to take part in program that is accredited. Programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Schools (CAAHEP) qualify candidates to become registered.
The registered medical assistant credential is granted to candidates who meet the certification requirements and pass the official test. The exam can usually be taken either online or on paper. The test has up to 210 multiple-choice questions. To become registered, the candidate must achieve a score of 79 or better. In addition, the certification must be renewed every three years.
Who They Need to Be
There are several key words that describe a person who fits as a registered medical assistant. One of those words is outgoing. Medical assistants work with people, so they need to be friendly and engaging.
Another word that describes the ideal candidate is compassionate. Most people visiting the doctor or a clinic are not healthy. Sometimes, the situation is terminal. The registered medical assistant will work closely with these patients, and they need to be able to listen and care about what is taking place in the patient’s life.
Flexible is another key descriptor for a registered medical assistant. There’s no such thing as a typical day in the health care field, so candidates must be able to handle what comes their way. They also have to be able to move between the clinical and administrative spheres with ease.
Registered medical assistants also need to be excellent communicators. They speak to patients all day long, either in person or on the phone. They also have to often communicate important instructions in writing.
The medical assistant field is growing and will need many more people to fill the needed positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of medical assistant positions could rise by 29 percent from 2012 to 2022. Registered medical assistants will stand out among those who become trained as medical assistants to aid physicians and other specialists.
A registered medical assistant is an essential component of a functioning health care facility. With the right knowledge, training and skills, a person who enters this field can find great success. Aside from the excellent career opportunities, someone who becomes a registered medical assistant is also able to truly make a positive difference in the lives of many.