How to Advance Beyond a Medical Assistant

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A medical assistant's job is an entry-level position in the medical field, performing administrative and clinical tasks in doctor's offices, hospitals and extended care facilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states job prospects should be excellent and that employment opportunities as a medical assistant, or MA, should be among the fastest growing occupations in the decade between 2008 and 2018. While some might find a lifetime career as an MA rewarding, you may want to advance beyond a medical assistant job to gain a higher financial reward.

  • Learn medical terminology and pay close attention to the discussions between doctors and nurses. You will use these medical terms as you advance beyond a medical assistant to your new role, whether you end up as a registered nurse working in a surgical suite or as a professional writer creating articles on nutrition. Invest significant time in learning medical terminology.

  • Determine your professional goals and learn the steps to achieve them. You may decide you want to help cancer patients by administering chemotherapy, for example. Your path will probably include nursing school with additional classes in oncology. On the other hand, you may want to supervise others at a doctor's office, in which case you would hone your management and clerical skills.

  • Expand your medical skills by attending every continuing education program or advanced training event offered at your institution, even if the information does not directly relate to your current job description. Accept all invitations to learn new skills, like starting intravenous fluids and other specialized procedures.

  • Expand your professional skills, unrelated to medicine, that require little to no additional formal education. A medical assistant with computer skills can work as a unit clerk or medical secretary, ordering lab tests and maintaining patient charts. Polish your management and people skills in preparation for future supervisory and administrative positions.

  • Work in a variety of positions to experience a wide variety of settings and to meet professionals able to assist you in advancing your career. Some states require a license to perform some job titles, like phlebotomy, but you may live in a state where an institution may waive licensure. A medical laboratory may be willing to train a medical assistant to work as a phlebotomist. Versatility is one of the most attractive benefits of starting a medical career as a medical assistant- use your current position as a medical assistant to seek out better employment opportunities.

  • Go back to school. Another great advantage to a position as a medical assistant is the pay is sufficient for the average person to attend school while working nearly any shift to accommodate class schedules. The American Association of Medical Assistants state the average income for a medical assistant with less than two years experience is more than $25,000.

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