If you are unsure about what to expect from your Medical Assistant (MA) Training, you are certainly not alone. Today, this is one of the most impactful and fastest-growing career paths in the medical field – but it is also one of the most underrated ones.
And, while medical practices have never been in such need of certified MAs and you’ll certainly have a brilliant career, setting the right expectation is key to job satisfaction.
Here’s what you can expect to learn during your Medical Assistant Training and the topics you’ll need to master to earn your certification.
Anatomy and Physiology
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national healthcare industry will need to fill 104,000 certified Medical Assistant positions per year to meet the increased demand for high-quality, accessible care.
In such a fast-changing environment, gaining a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology is crucial for MAs to provide efficient services, deliver appropriate patient care, and communicate with doctors and nurses.
That is why, the first topics covered by MA training courses aim to deliver foundational knowledge of the different parts and systems of the human body, how they work, and how they interact with each other.
Pharmacology and Drug Administration
Medical Assistant training courses aim to deliver comprehensive knowledge to new healthcare professionals, so to plug the labor gap currently affecting the industry.
In turn, MAs in training will cover fundamental topics like Pharmacology to gain an understanding of drug uses, effects, and supervised administration – a critical aspect of total patient care.
Most MA programs also offer “externships” – or on-the-job courses that allow training Medical Assistants to work alongside doctors and nurses in medical facilities and learn the ins and outs of medication administration.
Hands-On Medical Skills, e.g. Drawing Blood and Specimen Collection
While there are plenty of choices when it comes down to choosing a training course, it is important to review the topics covered. And, in particular, the hands.on, practical training you’ll receive.
Generally, a reputable medical assistant program will allow MAs in training to learn some medical and clinical skills, including:
- Phlebotomy (drawing blood)
- Collection of specimens and other samples for laboratory tests
- Administering injections and treatments as instructed by the primary healthcare provider
- Would care, including irrigations and cauterizations
- Cardiac ablations
- Checking for vitals
Ideally, trainees will practice both in the classroom and real-life scenarios, such as in clinics or hospitals while supervised by nurses and doctors.
Patient Care and Preparation
In any medical setting, doctors and nurses rely on the knowledge and expertise of MAs for room and patient preparation.
During your training course, you will gain a thorough understanding of patient care techniques, which include monitoring a patient’s needs, helping with the transportation of patients and medical supplies, managing patient stress, and caring for seniors and disabled people.
EKG and CPR Administration
Some of your Medical Assistant Training classes will focus on understanding how the cardiopulmonary system works. This essential knowledge is key to delivering life-saving treatments and accurate diagnoses.
The main skills you’ll acquire in this class include:
- CPR – Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is used in cardiac or breathing emergencies to keep the blood flow active and prevent brain damage or death.
- EKG – Electrocardiograms are tests delivered to monitor electrical activity and diagnose heart conditions
- Holter monitor training – portable Holter monitors are wearable devices used to monitor heart activity and deliver a more accurate diagnosis of heart conditions like arrhythmia.
Medical Business Administration
A 2010 pilot study conducted by McKinsey & Company showed a strong relationship between medical practice management standards, quality of care, and health outcomes.
For example, just a slight improvement in management practices can lead to a 7% reduction in 30-day heart attack mortality rates and a 14% increase in income per bed.
Since proper medical business administration isn’t just profitable but also life-saving, Medical Assistant trainees are required to learn how to properly manage a medical practice, increase workplace efficiency, streamline inventory, and cut waste.
MAs also cover some essential HR jobs, such as hiring and training new employees.
Electronic Medical Recording and Patient Record Management
Some of the critical responsibilities of MAs are to create, update, and manage patient records, record, and store patient information, and keep a streamlined database of patients, employees, and suppliers.
That is why, when choosing a medical assistant training school, you should always review the curriculum offered and ensure that you are taught how to use electronic medical records (EMR) and clinic management software.
Bookkeeping and Insurance Processing
While most medical practices will rely on a specialized accountant, there are some in-house tasks MAs are responsible for.
Some of these include liaising with insurance providers, billing patients, and ensuring that patients receive the right benefits from their coverage – an essential step in making healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone.
During your MA training, you can expect to learn about the different types of insurance, billing techniques, and procedures codes.
Preparing superbills and ensuring that the right codes are applied are delicate tasks, as they are both vital for the business’s profitability and the patient’s experience with the clinic.
Clinic Risk Management
Medical training programs span a wide range of topics to ensure that the new professionals entering the industry can give their best on the job while requiring minimal additional training.
In turn, most MA training programs also include additional units such as clinics and biohazard risk management.
These in-depth classes are essential to understanding the standards that need to be upheld in clinics to protect both patients and employees, including HIPAA standards, CLIA regulations, patient privacy, mandatory reporting, and charting standards.
Medical Law, Ethics, and Communications
As a Medical Assistant, you will cover a major role in communicating with patients, delivering treatments, and liaising with doctors and nurses.
That is why medical ethics, law, and communication are perhaps the most important topics you’ll cover during your training.
During this unit, you will learn essential patient rights, including the right to privacy, the right to life, the right to autonomy, and the right to the means to sustain life.
As a trainee, you will also cover the ethics of the job, which include doing no harm, doing the best possible, being a patient advocate, and providing truthful information.
You’ll also understand the basics of efficient communication with patients, colleagues, and doctors, to improve the clinic’s efficiency and provide high-quality care.
While the ones above are the main units covered by most Medical Assistant training programs, this career will take you through a lifelong learning journey.