How a medical assistant certification can make a med school applicant stand out By: Muna Alhuseini BA, MA and Alex Ngannou CMA RN
A great way for a med school applicant stand out from the crowd is to have medical experience. It can be paid experience, such as working as a medical assistant, phlebotomy technician, patient care technician or nursing assistant. It can also be volunteer experience, such as volunteering at a hospital or clinic. At PCT, many of our students are medical school and PA school applicants. Our medical assistant program is popular with our pre-med and pre-PA students as once they have their national certifications, they may work in doctors’ offices and hospitals, getting the required experience to be a stand out applicant showing commitment to their field of study.
Medical assistants, also known as “clinical assistants” or healthcare assistants is an allied health professional which supports the work of physicians and other health professionals, usually in a clinical setting. Medical assistants perform routine clinical and administrative duties under the direct supervision of a physician or other health care professional.
Why Should Med-School Applicants Become a Certified Medical Assistant?
Here are just a few of the benefits of becoming a Certified Medical Assistant:
- Increase Employment Opportunities: Medical Assistant certification is a great thing to list on a med school applicant resume, and it can end up being the difference that gets you a call back for an in-demand job over other applicants.
- More Job Choices: According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), Certified Medical Assistants are the most versatile allied health professionals, and have a wider range of job opportunities available to them. From pediatrics to geriatric care, A Medical Assistant certification will give you a bigger selection of medical settings to choose from.
- Room for Growth: For those that aspire to move up in the medical field, becoming a Certified Medical Assistant is a great way to get started and propel you towards a more specialized position. Working as a Medical Assistant is a great way to hone your skills in a professional healthcare setting.
What do Med School Applicants expect from a Medical Assistant Certification?
There are thousands of medical assisting programs at community colleges and technical schools. Each has its own individualized curriculum and may structure their program differently. However, all upcoming MA’s must learn the same basic skills in order to succeed.
- Anatomy and Physiology: One of the building blocks of a medical assistant education is the Anatomy and Physiology class. Most medical assistant programs ensure that their students learn the basics of anatomy and physiology. During this class you’ll learn about the different systems of the body and how they work together.
- Medical Billing and Coding: A common task of a medical assistant is billing and coding. Students will learn about the various types of insurance, how they are billed, how to properly prepare a superbill, as well as diagnosis and procedure codes. Ensuring that the patient’s health plan covers the visit and how to properly refer a patient to a specialist, are also vital skills that will be learned. Proper billing and coding procedures are vital to the medical practice, as they are the source of income for the business. Medical billing and coding is also an entire career in itself, allowing some medical assistants the opportunity to create their own business..
- Cardiopulmonary system and electrocardiography: Medical assistant programs provide this class that teaches about the components of the cardiopulmonary system, including the heart and lungs. If CPR was not taught previously, it would definitely be in the students favor to take it. Students will also learn how to perform electrocardiographs, which are commonly known as EKG. This may include both a non-stress and stress type of testing. Students may learn how to instruct patients how to use the portable Halter monitors, as well. The medical conditions caused by illness or injury to the heart and lungs will be taught, as well as basic medications and procedures used by physicians to treat these conditions.
- Laboratory procedures and clinical assistant: This class will focus on the procedures you will use in the back office while working as a clinical medical assistant. This includes escorting the patient to the room, performing checks of vitals, drawing blood and collecting other samples for the laboratory, and giving injections. Students will learn how to perform specific laboratory procedures, such as hematocrit, urine tests, and separating blood and plasma.
- Clinical Externship: This portion of the program is where the student will work variable hours in an actual doctor’s office. Depending upon whether you are a back office, a front office, or both, your externship will be in the area that you are specializing in. During student’s externship, they will get hands on experience working with real patients. All of the skills students have learned during their medical assisting education will be utilized during the externship. Mastery of the skills will usually be evaluated after the externship/ clinical has ended. The extern site supervisor will report your progress and give your school representative a grade for your externship and provide documentation displaying skills performed.