Medical Assisting Career Opportunities
If you’re in the process of becoming a medical assistant, or even considering the possibility, rest assured that there is no shortage of long-term career options and advancement. You might already know that qualified, highly skilled medical assistants are always in demand in the medical field.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the medical assistant position to grow by 23 percent through 2024. That number is even higher for Specialty Certified Medical Assistants (SCMA). In fact, all numbers get higher for medical assistants in a specialty field: employment, salary, number of certifications held, number of advancement options – the list goes on. So, what kind of specialty is right for you? Let’s review some of the most popular to find out.
Cardiology is the study and practice of the heart and related systems, including electrophysiology, or the electrical activities of the heart, and the vascular system of blood vessels. Cardiologists diagnose a wide range of heart disease conditions such as congenital heart defects, arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease, to name just a few. Heart disease is among the top population killers in America today, and so cardiologists require an extremely skilled and attentive team working alongside them. Here’s where medical assistants with a specialty in cardiology are vital. Specialty certified medical assistants in cardiology assist cardiologists with tests and procedures, including:
- coronary revascularization
- echocardiograms and electrocardiograms
- stress tests
- cardiac catheterizations, stents and pacemaker placements
- cardioversion (the process of using electricity or drugs to convert an abnormally fast heart rate or arrhythmia to a normal rhythm)
Perhaps the most popular specialty for medical assistants is family medicine. Family medicine doctors are essentially primary care doctors, treating patients over long periods of time on a personal level, and commonly treat multiple generations of the same family. Medical assistants in this specialty will likewise treat the same patients over long periods of time. A major pro to this specialty is the familiarity medical assistants gain with their patients – they get to know them personally and so can treat anything from common colds to more severe conditions with relative ease. Because family medicine is a rather general field, medical assistants usually have a variety of duties, including but far from limited to:
- administrative duties from prescription renewals and referrals to insurance and chart preparation
- taking vital signs and initial patient information
- determining the reason for the visit
- relating patient concerns and needs to the physician
OB/GYN is divided into obstetrics (OB), which concerns the surgical care and treatment of women during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care, and gynecology (GYN) which addresses women and the medical care of their reproductive system. OB/GYN physicians and specialists see female patients for regular checkups, running tests like pap smears and mammograms. Medical assistants with a specialty in OB/GYN assist gynecologists with:
- drawing blood for testing
- breast and cervical cancer examinations
- prepping medical charts
- clerical and administrative work
Orthopedics is the study and practice of treating the musculoskeletal system, including joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. Orthopedic physicians diagnose and treat all kinds of injuries and diseases related to muscle and skeletal system. These physicians see and treat a wide range of conditions, ranging from injury rehabilitation to providing long term ongoing treatments for permanent diseases. Orthopedics is perhaps the most hands-on medicinal field, which should draw the attention of medical assistants who love working directly with patients for long periods of time. A huge pro of this field is that medical professionals working in it commonly get to see the results of their work in their patients’ progress. Medical assistants specializing in orthopedics doctors and surgeons treat patients and act as a support role. Responsibilities typically include:
- organize patient charts
- collect data like vital signs, medical histories and allergy alerts
- assist in wound care, suture/stitches/staple removal, etc.
- sterilization practices
- splints, casts and medical first aid
- assist Orthopedic Surgeons in caring and working directly with patients
Pediatrics is the medical field focusing on the health and care of children up to age 18. Pediatric physicians and medical professionals provide a wide range of care for children with all types of conditions, or lack thereof. Since pediatric care is necessary for all children, there is usually a demand for skilled medical assistants. Being a skilled medical assistant in pediatric care not only means skilled in medical practice or knowledge, but also in dealing with children of various ages. Medical assistants with pensions for children will no doubt want to consider a pediatric specialty. The most common duties include:
- measure and monitor patients’ vitals from visit to visit for changes in growth and development
- collect lab work
- give immunizations
- educate patients and parents on new policies and health information
- ensure that these young patients feel safe and secure in a medical environment.
Medical assisting can intense, but it is also intensely rewarding – both in job satisfaction and career advancement. Medical assistants are not resigned to working in clinics or hospitals. There are many specialty fields that require qualified medical assistants. EBI trains our medical assisting students to get MA certification, and we encourage students to go above and beyond and receive a specialty certification. Study materials and practice exams are available online, and you can get an overview of all the various specialty fields here.