How to Become a Medical Assistant
If your dream is to become a medical assistant, the process can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Graduate high school or earn GED
- Get your medical assistant education
- Pass the medical assistant licensing exam
- Apply for medical assistant positions
Becoming a medical assistant can be a challenging task. You will have to set goals and work hard to reach your dream of becoming a medical assistant, and Pittsburgh Career Institute is here to support you every step of the way. Here’s a breakdown for each of the steps in the process to help you:
1. Graduate High School/Earn GED
Finishing your high school education provides an essential foundation for you to be successful as a medical assistant. Most medical assistant programs will require you to have this education completed before you start the program. Most employers will require this education as well, so make sure you do your homework, ask your teachers for help when needed, and do extra credit work so you can graduate high school!
We understand that traditional schooling isn’t easy for everyone, so the fortunate news about medical assistant programs is that your high school grades often don’t factor into your program eligibility. We’ve found that a medical assisting education can suit people of all learning types, and we strive to help our students to individually succeed,utilizing methods of instruction that work with many styles of learning.
2. Get Your Medical Assistant Education
Completing your medical assistant education may be the most challenging and rewarding step in the whole process. You can choose from vocational schools or even community colleges for a program that suits your schedule and needs. Some programs can be taken during the day, night/weekends, full time, part time, or even online. Each program can provide different certifications or even a degree as well. PCI offers a Medical Assistant diploma program that can allow you to become a licensed medical assistant in as little as 10 months. Other programs can take much more than a year, though some of them can help you earn an associates degree. We’ve developed our Medical Assistant program as a diploma program because we’ve found that our students prefer to graduate with their new hands-on skills as soon as possible and jump into the workplace as soon as possible.
Your medical assisting education will likely cover a wide range of topics to help prepare you to work in the healthcare field. Basic clinical skills make up the core of the program at PCI, and include the following skills:
- Medical Histories
- Patient education
- Taking vital signs
- Lab specimens
- and much more!
Some of these topics can be intimidating to students, which is why our Medical Assistant program director, Sherri Steele, is dedicated to helping students learn and be successful. Our recent blog about Sherri even tells the story of a student who was struggling with learning injections. Sherri invited the student into her office so that the student could practice injections on Sherri’s own arm until she felt confident in this new skill! This example of going above and beyond shows that investing time and extra effort in our teaching is a way of life at PCI.
3. Pass the Medical Assistant Licensing Exam
Each state has unique laws regarding medical assistant licenses. Pennsylvania, for example, doesn’t actually require medical assistants to be certified, but some employers require their employees to be licensed. The licensing exam is important for students to pass because it will improve their job outlook and can help make their resumes more robust.
The medical assistant certification exam itself is similar to other standardized tests that you may have taken before. The exam asks 200 multiple choice questions, and excludes 20 of those questions randomly after the test is completed. The minimum passing grade is adjusted every three years or so by the American Association of Medical Assistants, so be sure to consult with your instructor to make sure you’re prepared.
4. Apply for Medical Assistant Positions
The next step is to begin your journey as a professional medical assistant! Applying for available positions can be competitive, but we’re committed to helping you stand out from the competition. PCI’s Career Services department can help you to craft a quality resume, provide guidance on performing well at interviews, and even help you discover job opportunities! Some common workplaces for medical assistants include:
- Physician’s offices
- Chiropractor’s offices
- Urgent care facilities
- Outpatient facilities
- Insurance companies
- and many more!
PCI strives to prepare students to be outstanding medical assistants, and part of that is helping ours find externship opportunities so they may develop real-world experience before they’ve even graduated. Visit our career services page for more information on how PCI can help you transition from being a student to a professional medical assistant.
Learn With PCI
Medical assistants have been in demand and have been projected to stay in demand for many years to come, so now is the time to get started on a career that could support you throughout a long career! Our staff and faculty are committed to helping you be successful as a student and as a graduate. Contact us to learn more about our medical assistant program today!