Answers about the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the job
Thinking about enrolling in a medical assistant training program, but have some lingering concerns about what the job really entails?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. The Salter School has been training people to work as professional medical assistants for many years now … and we know that incoming students may have some less-than-delicate questions about job duties.
So let’s take the mystery out of medical assistance jobs, shall we? After all, if you’re going to make the investment of time and money to enter a new career field, it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
Here are some common questions people might have before entering a professional medical assistant training course.
Will I have to give shots?
Professional medical assistants sometimes give shots and injections if they are authorized to do so. For example, medical assistants may administer vaccines, hormone injections, or allergy tests.
However, many clinical practices have strict protocols in place for when and how medical assistants may administer shots. Whether or not you’ll be expected to give shots on a regular basis depends on what kind of practice you work in after graduation.
In any case, expect to receive training on how to administer shots during your training.
Needles scare me; does that mean I can’t be a professional medical assistant?
If you’re leery of needles, you’re not alone. In fact, many professional medical assistant students feel uncertain when dealing with needles for the first time.
Professional schools like Salter are aware of that. That’s why new students begin their injections training using plastic arms. This often helps people alleviate their anxiety about handling needles.
Of course, if you have a serious phobia about needles – that is, you get nauseous as the sight of them – you might want to think about selecting a different career option. Remember, while not all medical assistants are required to use needles, any clinical setting is likely to include needles somewhere in the work environment.
Will I have to draw blood?
Medical assistants do sometimes draw blood, but it depends on what kind of practice the person is working in. In any case, most medical assistant training programs will cover blood drawing procedures.
Will I have to work nights and weekends?
Professional medical assistants may work nights and weekend, but again, that is largely dependent on where you’re employed.
Medical assistants who work in doctor’s offices or clinics may work any time the office is open. Keep in mind, many practices may have evening hours to better accommodate patients who work 9-5.
Professional medical assistants in hospital settings should probably expect to pull some overnight and weekend shifts, as hospitals are open 24/7. Some hospitals may allow you to have more choice in your schedule as you gain seniority, but keep in mind that you may need to “pay your dues” first.
Will I have to clean poop?
Yes, we said it. While this may sound like an odd question, believe it or not, it’s actually one of the biggest Internet search questions about medical assistant jobs.
It’s very unusual for medical assistants to have to clean up feces, urine or vomit. In the case that a patient becomes ill, a janitor is likely to be called to handle the mess.
In a hospital setting, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are often responsible for basic hygiene of patients.
What other things will have to do that I might not have thought of?
Medical assistants may perform a variety of clinical procedures including:
- weight checks
- strep tests
- blood pressure checks
Medical assistants may sometimes review medications with patients and, in some practices, experienced professional medical assistants may be asked to call patients to followup after appointments or to notify them of lab results.
Can I work in labor and delivery? A pediatric office? A nursing home? An emergency room?
Keep in mind that many people who enter medical assistance start out with a vision of where they’d like to work. Often, once students enter a professional medical assistant training program and discover other career opportunities they were previously not aware of, they often change their focus. If you’re considering entering this field, it’s a good idea to keep an open mind.
Medical assistants may work in labor and delivery, pediatric offices and neonatal intensive care units. While these work settings may sound like fun for people who love babies and children – and they certainly can be – it’s also important to remember that sometimes professional medical assistants must work with very ill patients. Carefully consider if you believe you can handle the emotional strain that may come with certain settings.
Employment in nursing homes is another option for medical assistants, however, it depends on the level of care provided at the facility. Again, anyone working in these environments may need to be prepared to work with patients who have serious medical conditions, are infirm, or are dealing with end-of-life issues.
If you enjoy working in a fast-paced environment, you may find that you like working as a professional medical assistant in emergency room (ER) settings. In larger hospitals, ER medical assistants may even specialize in certain types of procedures.
Will I get benefits?
Many medical assistants are hired as employees rather than contractors. Full-time employees can expect to receive benefits, such a healthcare insurance, along with their regular pay.
Will I be paid well? Will I be paid more than a CNA?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good source to find the latest pay information for professional medical assistants, although compensation ranges can vary greatly depending on your region.
The latest statistics on certified nursing assistants (CNAs) compared to medical assistants shows that medical assistant may command a higher salary.
Interested in learning more about a career as professional medical assistant? Request more information or schedule a tour.