September 21, 2018  |  Purdue University Global

If you think you want to work in health care but aren’t sure which health care occupation to pursue, consider becoming a medical assistant. It’s a great entry point into the field and can help you learn more about what it’s like to work in health care. If you find you enjoy the work, it can be a path to other clinical or administrative roles.

The demand for medical assistants is expected to continue to grow at a rate much faster than other professions. Let’s look closer at the role and how you can prepare to become one.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

As a medical assistant, you’ll work hands-on with patients and assist physicians with routine clinical work. Medical assistants work in physicians’ offices and other health care facilities. Depending on the location, specialty, and size of the practice, a medical assistant’s duties might include:

  • Recording patient history and personal information
  • Taking a patient’s blood pressure
  • Scheduling upcoming appointments
  • Preparing blood and fluid samples for laboratory tests
  • Assisting physicians with exams and injections as permitted by law

As a medical assistant, you can choose a certain path and apply for positions that are explicitly clinical or administrative, or within specific disciplines of health care, such as becoming an ophthalmic or optometric (eye care) assistant.

What Are the Education Requirements for a Medical Assistant?

In most states, there are no formal education requirements to become a medical assistant, but employers may prefer to hire those who have completed a postsecondary program. These programs offer hands-on training with medical equipment and procedures and prepare graduates for clinical and administrative work. Programs are offered in a traditional classroom setting with a clinical component or as a hybrid online/clinical model.

For example, Purdue Global’s Medical Assistant Certificate program is a hybrid online/onsite program that allows you to study the curriculum online while periodically working onsite with supervising physicians to practice such tasks as:

  • Administering injections
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Assisting in minor surgeries

In addition to clinical tasks, courses in medical assisting are designed to help you learn the procedures for proper reporting, the fundamentals of charting, and basic accounting.

After completing your certificate program in medical assisting, you may be eligible to sit for several industry-specific certifications, including the following*:

Are Medical Assistants in High Demand?

Yes, they are. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical assistants will grow 29% by 2026, much faster than the average for other occupations.

What’s driving such robust growth? As baby boomers get older, the demand for preventive care is rising. Most of this demand falls on the shoulders of physicians and health care facilities. As doctors see an increased number of patients, they’ll spend less time on routine tasks that can be delegated to an assistant. This, in turn, drives a need for more medical assistants.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Assistant?

The path to becoming a medical assistant will vary. In addition, if you are in a medical assistant program, completion times depend on course load and program. At Purdue Global, the Medical Assistant Certificate program can be completed in less than 15 months of full-time study.

Pursue Your Goal to Become a Medical Assistant With Purdue Global

Entering a medical assistant program is a great next step toward a career in health care. Purdue University Global offers a Medical Assistant Certificate program offered online or at our Des Moines, Iowa location.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Purdue Global medical assistant certificate program, request information from one of our advisors today.

Filed in: Health Sciences

About the Author

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized, world-class education online that's tailored for adults. We offer 180 programs, including associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees as well as certificates, in areas such as business, IT, education, health sciences, nursing, criminal justice, and more.

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*Certification and licensing boards in Washington and South Dakota have specific educational requirements for a program to lead to certification as a medical assistant, which is a precondition for employment in those states. This program meets the educational requirements to obtain certification in Washington and South Dakota. Refer to the University Catalog for additional information. Residents of all states are responsible for understanding the requirements of optional certification exams. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. In some cases, work experience, additional coursework beyond the Purdue Global program, fieldwork, and/or background checks may be necessary to be eligible to take or to successfully pass the exams.

National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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