Medical assistants are health care providers that are responsible for front- and back-office duties. They work in hospitals, private physician offices, health clinics, nursing homes and other medical settings. To become a medical assistant, complete an accredited program and become certified. Accredited certification programs can be found at community colleges and technical schools. They typically consist of two-year, full-time associate degree programs or one-year, full-time certificate programs. Some certificate programs are available on a part-time basis, which typically take two years to complete. Associate degrees in medical assisting usually must be completed full-time, though some are offered part-time during evenings and weekends. When you're certified and ready to apply to jobs, follow these guidelines to obtain interviews.
Network while completing your externship. Most medical assistant programs require you to complete a certain number of hours at a medical office or other setting to gain hands-on experience as a medical assistant before completing the program. Use this time not only to learn to function as a medical assistant in the real world, but to network with your co-workers. If you really enjoy your position, ask if there are any positions open for medical assistants at the establishment. You may be able to obtain a job where you did your externship after finishing your program and obtaining your certification, so show your dedication to your job and offer to take on extra work every once in a while to help out your co-workers.
Apply to job listings that don't require any previous experience. Lack of experience can put you at a disadvantage compared with more experienced applicants. You can make up for this with great references, school accomplishments and related experience, such as hospital volunteering or other types of community service.
Apply to jobs in various settings. Medical assistant jobs can be found at many places other than hospitals and private practices. Look for available jobs at low-income health clinics, women's resource centers, correctional facilities, urgent-care centers, pharmaceutical companies, medical research labs and insurance companies.
Arrive at your interview early and well-groomed. Also, practice your interviewing skills. These are essential to land a job in health care. If you seem disinterested and lack proper communication skills, the interviewer may not give your resume a second look.
Tips & Warnings
- Although being certified isn't required by many places of employment, your school may require that you complete the certification exam as part of their program requirements. Being certified just proves that you've obtained the required skills and knowledge to perform as a medical assistant.
- Some jobs may require you to be bilingual. You can prepare yourself for this requirement by taking a medical terminology course in Spanish or another foreign language, offered at various colleges and universities.
- Many medical assistant programs offer job search assistance for their students. To find out if your program does, contact your school's student services center.
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