Becoming a Medical Assistant in Arizona are you a caring and empathetic person? Are you interested in the medical field, and eager to help people? If your answer to these questions is yes, maybe being a medical assistant is the right career for you! In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about becoming a medical assistant in the state of Arizona.
What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are unlicensed healthcare professionals in the state of Arizona. The medical assistant works under a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner’s supervision. It is important to realize that a medical assistant is not a “physician assistant”. That is an entirely different job.
The medical assistant’s duties will vary by employer and work setting. Arizona statutes and regulations dictate the procedures that a medical assistant can legally perform when under a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner’s direct supervision, and when they are not under such direct supervision.
The following are some of the procedures a medical assistant can carry out only under direct supervision: small volume nebulizer treatments; taking specimens of body fluids; hot and cold pack treatments; injection administration; transcutaneous nerve stimulation unit treatments; whirlpool treatments; traction treatments; diathermy treatments; massage therapy; ultrasound therapy; and electronic galvation stimulation treatments.
Below is a list of procedures a medical assistant can perform without being supervised directly: carrying out visual activity screening as a component of a routine physical; billing and coding; making record of the doctor’s findings in patient charts; verifying insurance; scheduling; booking appointments for patients; and transcribing patient charts and record materials.
While medical assistants do not have to be licensed or formally certified, they do need to satisfy certain educational requirements that we will discuss later. It is up to the physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner who hires you to ensure that you are properly trained, educated, and qualified.
Some of the most common duties of the medical assistant include: adding patient information to medical records; carefully recording patient personal information and history; preparing samples of blood for laboratory tests; scheduling appointments for patients; measuring patients’ vital signs (for example, blood pressure); and assisting with patient examinations.
If you work in a hospital or a larger medical practice, you may have the opportunity of specializing in either clinical or administrative work. It is also possible to specialize in specific medical areas. For example, there are podiatric medical assistants and ophthalmic medical assistants.
A podiatric medical assistant is a medical assistant who works in the office of a podiatrist, or foot specialist. If you decide that you would like to be a podiatric medical assistant, you will need to look for a job in the office of a podiatrist who is willing to give you on-the-job training in the special knowledge and skills needed by podiatric medical assistants. You will also want to earn the Podiatric Medical Assistant Certified (PMAC) designation, which is administered by the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA). In order to obtain this certification, you will have to get ASPMA membership and pass the designated examination.
When a medical assistant works under an osteopathic physician (D.O.), the procedures and rules are different. The Osteopathic Board can provide more information on this question.
Most (59%) medical assistants work in physicians’ offices. 15% work in state, local, and private hospitals, while 10% work in the offices of health practitioners other than physicians. 7% of medical assistants work in outpatient care centers. Most medical assistants work on a full-time basis. In some jobs, evening, weekend, or holiday hours might be required (for example, in workplaces that have extended hours).
How Can I Become a Medical Assistant in Arizona?
In order to work as a medical assistant in Arizona, you must complete an approved education and training program. The education and training program must satisfy at least one of the following specifications:
• Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or
• Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), or
• Accredited by any accrediting agency that has recognition by the United States Department of Education, or
• Designed and administered by a licensed allopathic physician. In this case, the program must meet the standards of at least one of the three accrediting programs (the CAAHEP, ABHES, or the Department of Education).
You will find many different medical assistant education and training programs to choose from in Arizona, including certificate programs, diploma programs, and associate’s degree (usually Associate of Applied Science) programs. Programs culminating in a certificate or diploma are usually shorter in duration than those that culminate in an associate’s degree.
While medical assistants are not required to be certified in Arizona, there is optional certification available. Certification is highly valued by many employers, and therefore is likely to give you an advantage when job hunting. CMA (AAMA) certification is a credential administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). You will have to successfully pass an exam in order to be awarded this certification. Another opportunity is the Registered Medical Assistant credential, which is administered by the American Registry of Medical Assistants. Other certifications include the NCMA (National Certified Medical Assistant) certification, which is administered by the National Center for Competency Testing; the CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) certification from the National Health Career Association; and the CMAA (Certified Medical Administration Assistant), which is administered by the National Health Career Association.
You are probably wondering what you will learn in your medical assistant education and training program. Examples of things you will learn include: how to carry out a number of basic medical procedures, such as taking vital signs; how to work in a medical laboratory; how to properly prepare instruments for the doctor or nurse; how to administer injections and shots; how to properly complete insurance forms; how to deal with billing; how to file data on patients; and how to carry out general office duties. Your program will probably involve your obtaining numerous hours of clinical (hands-on) experience.
Excellent interpersonal skills: As a medical assistant, you will be expected to deal with patients and people you work with in a consistently pleasant and patient manner. You must be caring, and how empathy to patients. Analytical skills: You will need the ability to read and understand medical diagnoses and charts. Ability to pay close and consistent attention to detail: You will need to be detail-oriented, especially in dealing with patient information.
Problem-solving skills: You will need strong problem-solving skills in order to succeed as a medical assistant.
Communication skills: You will need excellent listening and verbal communication skills.
Technical skills: As a medical assistant, you will need to use basic clinical instruments (for example, to read vital signs).
Organizational skills: You will need excellent organizational skills as a medical assistant, especially in completing office work (such as filing).
Physical stamina: Being a medical assistant is a job that often requires quite a bit of walking and standing, as well as tasks such as cleaning examination rooms.
Emotional resilience: Medical assistants need to have a high level of emotional resilience. This is important, as you may often be dealing with very ill patients who are suffering or in pain.
Ability to multi-task: Medical assistants must be highly effective multi-taskers.
Ability to stay calm in all situations: As a medical assistant, you will need the ability to always remain calm, no matter what.
The tasks in a medical assistant’s typical day depend to a large extent on his or her specific workplace. Here we will discuss some of the most common duties in the typical day of a medical assistant working in a physician’s office. Such a medical assistant might check voicemail messages and emails, screening for high priority messages; log onto the office’s electronic medical records system; look at the appointments for the day before the patients start coming in, checking to see what kinds of appointments they are (for example, general check-ups, full physicals, and other examinations); take care of urgent administrative tasks; provide the appropriate attention to each individual patient; bring patients to the exam rooms; verify and update patient information; record height, weight, and blood pressure measurements; take and label specimen jars; book future appointments; when required, ask patients to change into exam robes; make contact with other doctors for patient reports; clean the examination room after every patient; transport specimens to the lab; arrange for where test results will go; send faxes for prescription refills; and do end of day cleaning of procedure rooms, making sure that all tools are sterilized; stock examination rooms with items such as specimen jars, cleaning products, gowns, equipment, and supplies.
Medical Assistant Salary Information
The median salary for medical assistants in the United States is $30,590 (or $14.71 per hour).
Many locations in Arizona have median medical assistant salaries that are higher than the national median salary discussed above. Below is a list of several Arizona towns and cities and their median medical assistant annual pay. Note that these numbers do not include possible benefits and bonuses:
Medical Assistant Job Growth Information
This field is growing at a rate much faster than the average of all other occupations. Arizona is a wonderful place to work as a medical assistant, as the state has one of the highest employment rates in the country for people in this career!
Finding Your First Job as a Medical Assistant
While it is true that the job market for medical assistants is very strong in Arizona (and the United States as a whole), you will probably feel nervous when you come the point at which you have finished your education program and need to find your first position. Let’s go over some tips here that might help give you the advantage over other applicants!
If you do not already have a CPR card by the end of your medical assistant program, make sure that you get one before applying to jobs. Many employers require this credential for all medical assistants working in their offices. It is common for employers to require Basic Life Support (BLS) training, as well.
The externship or practicum you will complete as part of your medical assistant education and training program will be an invaluable resource in helping you gain confidence in medical settings and gain contacts in the field. Make sure to harness the advantages your externship or practicum has given you when engaging in your job search. Volunteering in a medical setting is also a good way of gaining experience and exposure to the way things are done.
Carefully research the employer before going to a job interview. This is important, as it is common for interviewers to ask what you already know about the employer. Other common questions asked in interviews for medical assistant jobs include why you chose a career as a medical assistant, whether you have any certifications, what techniques you would use for conflict resolution, and whether you have taken specialization courses.
Take time to think about your answers to common questions before the interview. When you attend the interview, dress professionally, in traditional business clothing. Make sure you bring verification of any credentials, such as your CPR card. It is also advisable to bring a notebook and pen, to write down any information you are given. Remember to bring a copy of your resume, as well.
“Arizona Medical Board,” https://www.azmd.gov/FAQ/MedicalAssistant.aspx
“The American Registry of Medical Assistants,” http://arma-cert.org