Becoming A Medical Assistant – Have you always had a naturally caring instinct and responsible attitude? Are you the type to rush to a friend’s aid if they injure themselves rather than laugh? Can you handle much pressure without getting stressed out or angry? If you answered yes to all the previous questions, you’d be a perfect candidate for a career in allied healthcare.
However, the healthcare industry is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the U.S., expected to increase by a whopping 15% come 2029. Due to this, the healthcare field is broad, so those aspiring for a career in the industry have many options to choose from. Many career opportunities are available, from doctors and senior consultants to personal assistants and switchboard operators.
Notably, medical assistant jobs are in high demand since more and more of the population are being diagnosed with chronic illnesses requiring cost-effective and efficient care, which medical assistants can provide. Yet, like all job roles, you need to consider a couple of things beforehand, some of which we outline below so you can determine if this is the correct career path for you – keep reading to find out more.
The Average Salary Can Vary Drastically
Despite medical assistant jobs being in high demand, it doesn’t mean you will achieve the highest tier salary at entry level. Like many job roles, the amount of money you take home each month will vary depending on your experience, certification, education, location, specialization, and much more.
Considering how broad the healthcare industry is, the average salary of a medical assistant isn’t as grand as some of the other roles in the sector. However, it certainly isn’t bad; if you put in the effort, you can expect to take home a decent salary that will keep you living comfortably for years to come.
Depending on where you are posted, the annual salary for an entry-level medical assistant is around $25,705, which can rise to $33,580 once you start gaining experience and climbing up the career ladder. Remember, though, that this is just a ballpark figure, and if you’re after a more accurate figure, it might be wise to check job search engines like Adzuna.
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Job search engines are a great tool to use. They can help users tailor their searches so that only relevant job listings appear using helpful tools and salary stats. That way, users can dodge all the irrelevant ads and find the proper role quicker. Additionally, they open the door to a wider range of job opportunities, increasing your chances of finding employment.
You Will Have To Work All Hours
Have you ever heard a healthcare worker praise their work hours? Complain? Maybe. But praise? Not so much. As a healthcare assistant, or in pretty much any role in the healthcare industry, you will be expected to work all kinds of hours. One week you might be blessed with five eight-hour shifts; the next, you could work the graveyard shift of five back-to-back twelve-hour days.
No matter which shift pattern you’re assigned, you will be expected to work morning, noon, and night; plus, if you go into a hospital setting, your weekends and holidays will also be affected. Not only can working these hours be tiring, but they can also affect your personal and social relationships, which can affect your physical and mental health.
Since this will have a considerable bearing, especially if you have children or are planning to start a family, this should be one of the first considerations you make since there will be little you can do about it once you are in the industry. It takes a special kind of person to work in healthcare, so ensure that you are up to the challenge before applying!
Becoming A Medical Assistant – You Must Complete An Accredited Program
If you want to be in the highest tier of earners in this field, you will need to sit for your certification exam. But here’s the kicker. Not just any old program will do; to sit for your certification exam, you must complete an accredited educational/training program by the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Failure to do so and you will not be permitted to sit for your certification exam, which means a whole lot of studying (and money!) down the drain and, on top of that, even more, if you still want to become a certified medical assistant after all that.
Despite this, it is well worth becoming accredited as you can go for the more competitive medical assistant jobs, which will fetch you more earnings. But, on the other hand, it can involve much stress and back and forth to find the appropriate training or educational program that will be recognized (and suits you!).
Exposure To Illness, Death, And Bodily Fluids
Let’s face it, those who choose to follow a career in healthcare must have a strong stomach. As a medical assistant, you will be in contact with hundreds of people daily, all with various ailments, diseases, and medical needs. Since you will be in close proximity to them, you will be at risk of multiple illnesses, bodily fluids and will even have to witness death up close and personal.
All it takes is a minor mishap while drawing a patient’s blood (one of the medical assistants’ many routine tasks), and you could end up with a needlestick injury which can expose you to pathogens in a patient’s bodily fluids. Although this is highly unlikely, if it does, we can only pray that it’ll be from a clean needle! Otherwise, this can cause far more significant problems.
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As you can imagine, dealing with illness, death, and bodily fluids are all part-in-parcel of a medical assistants role, so it is another factor worth considering before putting yourself forward for the position, as it may not be an ideal career for those with sensitive stomachs or for those that get attached easily!
The Job Can Be Incredibly Stressful (But Very Rewarding!)
Another consideration to make before becoming a medical assistant is that your day-to-day duties can be physically and mentally draining, leading to a build-up of stress or, worse, burnout. Since the job is in very high demand, you will be expected to meet the needs of your employer (and patients) simultaneously.
Whether you are processing lab results, registering patients, monitoring vital signs, or giving feedback to a patient – you will be expected to juggle a load of day-to-day tasks and complete them efficiently and professionally. These expectations can soon build up and start taking a toll on you, leading to higher stress levels or increasing your risk of burnout.
Therefore, before you proceed in this job field, it is essential that you envision yourself in these stressful positions and whether you would perform well or crack under pressure. It’s also worth developing coping strategies for stress and burnout before facing these emotions.
So that when the time comes, you know how to compose yourself and will be far less susceptible to more serious mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or burnout and won’t have to run the risk of taking time off of work to recuperate.