If you're good at making people feel comfortable, excel at juggling tasks, interested in the medical field, and don't get squeamish, a career as a clinical medical assistant might be a good fit for you.
It's a hands-on healthcare career that doesn't involve a long, costly educational investment up front like becoming a doctor or nurse.
Better, clinical medical assistant jobs are in growing demand. If you're a military spouse, the DOD considers medical assisting a "portable" career. That means they'll foot the bill for training because you're likely to find a job wherever you relocate.
Let's take a closer look at clinical medical assisting to find out if it's right for you.
What Is A Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant supports the work of physicians, physician assistants (PAs), and other healthcare professionals. A well-run healthcare practice has a lot of moving parts, and medical assistants play an important role in making a facility run smooth.
Clinical Assistant vs Medical Assistant
There are two broad categories of medical assistant tasks: clinical and administrative.
The clinical duties of a medical assistant involve patient contact and hands-on medical procedures. On the administrative side, tasks may involve a combination of reception, record-keeping, billing, and other office duties.
In small practices like doctor's offices, medical assistants are typically expected to cover both.
In large facilities like outpatient centers and hospitals, medical assistants usually specialize in one or the other. They're called clinical medical assistants and medical administrative assistants, respectively.
What Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Do?
The clinical duties of a medical assistant vary based on the type of facility, the state and local laws, and the makeup of the staff.
Clinical medical assistants often perform tasks that don't require a medical or nursing degree, and they may also serve as an extra set of hands for procedures that do. Since most jurisdictions don't require medical assistants to become licensed, they always work under the supervision of doctors, PAs, or nurses.
Common duties include:
- Taking and recording a patient's history
- Measuring vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure
- Assisting with medical exams or minor/ambulatory surgeries
- Preparing certain lab samples for tests
- Disposing of contaminated supplies
- Sterilizing medical instruments
- Maintaining medical equipment
- Updating medical records
- Scheduling appointments
- Administering injections or medications (as permitted by state law)
- Preparing a patient for x-rays
- Drawing blood or collecting other lab specimens
- Removing sutures or Changing dressings
- Administering an EKG
- Communicating with pharmacies and other healthcare facilities
Some clinical medical assistants specialize in a particular field of medicine, like podiatry, ophthalmology, and cardiology, among others. Those specialties come with additional tasks.
Where Do Clinical Medical Assistants Work?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019, more than half of medical assistants, in general, worked in physician's offices. An additional 15% worked in hospitals, 8% in outpatient care centers, and 4% in chiropractor's offices. Less frequently, medical assistants may work in health clinics, urgent care centers, and other healthcare practices like podiatrists or optometrists.
As we said earlier, clinical medical assistants tend to work in larger practices. Regardless of the type of facility, clinical medical assistants are more likely to work in the "back," whereas medical administrative assistants are usually found in the front office.
What is the Job Outlook for Clinical Medical Assistant?
According to the BLS, demand for medical assistants will grow much faster than average in the coming decade – 19% by 2029, which far outstrips the average 4% for all occupations.
This estimate includes both clinical and administrative assistants.
How Much Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Make?
The BLS reports that the national median clinical medical assistant salary in 2019 was $34,800 a year (or $16.73 per hour).
Average pay varies by where you hold a job. That includes the type of facility as well as the state or city. Outpatient centers and hospitals tend to pay a little better than doctor's offices.
Assisted living facilities and retirement communities pay the least.
Our Clinical Medical Assistant Program
Our clinical medical assistant program is designed to prepare you for an entry-level position in a clinic, physician's office, or urgent care center.
Although most jurisdictions don't require specific licenses, certifications, or training programs for clinical medical assistants, it's important to look up any regulations– and even employer preferences – before you commit to a training program.
Clinical Medical Assistant Training
Our clinical medical assistant program begins with online, self-paced coursework.
You'll learn about the equipment and procedures that clinical medical assistants encounter, as well as the ethical and legal requirements you'll need to abide by. We'll teach you the best practices for every part of your job.
- Introduction to Medical Assisting
- Patient History and Documentation
- Patient Vital Signs
- Physical Examination
- CLIA ’88 and Maintaining a Safe Environment
- Examination and Procedures—Integumentary and Neurologic Systems
- Examination and Procedures—Sensory System
- Examination and Procedures—Respiratory and Circulatory Systems
- Examination and Procedures—Digestive System
- Examination and Procedures—Urinary System
- Medication Dosage and Administration
- Control of Infections
- Legal Considerations in Healthcare
- Ethical Considerations in Healthcare
- Assisting with Office/Ambulatory Surgery
- Maintaining a Safe Environment
- Laboratory Practices
- Specialty Laboratory Tests
- Office Administration
- Medical Records
- Medical Coding
- Human Resource Management
You'll notice that we cover some administrative matters towards the end. Although the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant program covers these topics in much greater depth, even specialized clinical assistants need to be familiar with some administrative tasks.
Clinical Medical Assistant Externship with a Local Provider
An externship is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience to add to your resume before you start to apply for permanent jobs – like an internship, only shorter.
Externships are optional in the clinical medical assistant program, so you can graduate without one, if you prefer. However, it is a way to stand out from other entry-level applicants on your job search. You can also gain professional references or even a job offer if you impress your externship provider.
You'll be eligible to start an externship once you complete at least 50 course-hours with scores of 85% or higher. Your externship provider will usually require a few other things like a background check and drug screening.
Pass the CCMA Exam
Our clinical medical assistant program includes a voucher to take the National Health Association (NHA)'s Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam.
Becoming a CCMA is valuable in the job market. Certified clinical medical assistants get hiring preference because passing the certification exam proves you have a certain amount of knowledge needed to do the job. The NHA's certification program is widely accepted and respected nation-wide.
Meditec's Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) program provides a flexible path into a growing and rewarding career in healthcare. The coursework is online and self-paced, so you can work around your current responsibilities.
If you qualify for MyCAA funding, our program is eligible and the cost of the certification exam is built in. You also get a free laptop to keep, so you won't have to worry about reliable equipment.
Contact us to get started today!