Medical assistants work alongside doctors in hospitals or private offices. The duties a medical assistant may perform range from the clinical, such as taking a patient's blood to the administrative, such as preparing medical files. In the state of Florida, a person does not have to become certified or licensed to work as a medical assistant.
It is possible for a medical assistant in Florida to receive training on the job. In most cases, though, an employer prefers to hire an assistant who has completed some formal training after high school, either at a vocational-technical school or community college. A program at vocational school may take a year, while a program at a community college lasts for two years. At the end of a two-year program, the assistant earns an associate degree. During training, an assistant will study human anatomy, laboratory procedures, basic first aid and office administration.
Certification to become an medical assistant is voluntary in Florida as of 2011. An assistant can take a test through the American Association of Medical Assistants to become a certified medical assistant or test through American Medical Technologists to become a registered medical assistant. While both are optional, becoming registered or certified can improve an aspiring assistant's job prospects and may boost the amount of pay she receives. In addition to receiving basic certification, a medical assistant may decide to specialize in ophthalmology, sports medicine or podiatry.
Since medical assistants deal with patients, they need to be able to interact and communicate with people. They should be sensitive and aware of confidentiality and privacy laws in the state of Florida and nationwide. Medical assistants need to have good motor skills to perform any clinical tasks assigned to them, from taking blood samples to performing dialysis. Since a medical assistant may need to deal with multiple patients at one time, she should be organized and able to multitask.
Job Prospects and Salary
As of 2009, the average medical assistant earned $13.75 an hour in Florida. In 2006, there were 28,667 medical assistants in the state, according to the Florida Area Health Education Centers Network. The number of jobs available to medical assistants was expected to increase considerably, to 39,446 by 2014. The typical medical assistant works a full-time, 40 hour week and receives benefits, such as health insurance and retirement, from her employer.