Medical Assistants in High Demand

March 3, 2010

- By Alberta Smith, RMA, AHI, BS‐HCM, Sanford‐Brown College

Medical Assistant Week is Oct. 19‐23 and this is a great time to learn about what medical assistants do, and to honor their contributions to the health care profession.

In today’s tough job market, many people are considering new careers. One of the fastest growing professions in health care is the medical assistant (MA), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008‐09 Edition. This growth is expected to continue until at least 2016. For those who enjoy working with people and helping them with their health care needs, a career as a medical assistant could be the ideal profession.

What is a medical assistant? This is the individual that greets a patient upon arrival at a doctor’s office and retrieves any paperwork required, assists the patient and physician with procedures performed in the medical facility, and assists the patient with the final paperwork, payment, and follow‐up appointments. Medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical duties in a health care facility. Administrative duties could include answering the telephone, making appointments, preparing patient information for charts, filing, bookkeeping, documenting coding procedures and diagnosis, and billing insurance companies. Clinical duties include assisting patients with medical history forms, talking to patients about their chief medical complaint, taking vital signs, assisting in procedures, processing labs, injections, stocking exam rooms, and helping keep a safe environment for the patients.

There are many different avenues the medical assistant can choose as a career. The most common is being employed in a medical facility working under the direct order of a physician. They can also be employed at hospitals, blood banks, insurance companies, clinics, and labs.

Individuals who wish to become a medical assistant should attend an MA Program at an accredited school. Once they graduate they are encouraged to take a certification examination to demonstrate mastery of competencies. A graduate can become a Registered Medical Assistant through the American Medical Technologist (AMT) or Certified Medical Assistant through The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Each organization requires renewal of membership and continuing educational units (CEU).

Students are encouraged to attend the Missouri State Society of the American Medical Technologist (MOSSAMT) bi‐annual spring and fall meetings that rotate in different cities in Missouri. This gives the students an excellent opportunity to participate in the professional organization they will belong to once they graduate and pass their certification exam. Several guest speakers attend the MOSSAMT meetings and lecture on different topics that offer the opportunity for members to earn CEU’s.  

Being a medical assistant can be personally rewarding and fulfilling, by knowing that you are helping others and playing an important role in the health care system. In this favorable job market for medical assistants, now might be the right time to consider pursuing career opportunities in this field.

Alberta Smith is president of the Missouri State Society of the American Medical Technologist, and Medical Assistant Program Director at Sanford‐Brown College in Fenton, Missouri.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008‐09 Edition, Medical Assistants, on the Internet at  This is a national estimate and conditions in your location may vary. 

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