Medical assisting is a vocation that falls into the so called middle-skills job category. The medical assistant works under the employ and direct supervision of a doctor and side-by-side with various other medical and health care practitioners, nurses and highly specialized technologists in an ambulatory medical office or clinical setting. The minimum requirement to become a medical assistant is a high school diploma, it does not require a post-secondary degree from a college, or higher education institution.
Definition of the Medical Assisting Discipline
Medical assisting as a career is best described as an occupation within the healthcare industry, but medical assistants are not considered skilled professionals such as licensed clinicians, technologists, or registered nursing staff, as a matter of fact, the medical assistant is not regarded as a true professional by means of definition at all, mostly due to the lack of overseeing regulations and higher educational and licensing requirements that would govern the medical assisting discipline, wherefore, the term medical assistant profession, or professional is a misnomer, although widely used.
Medical Assistant Is Not a Professional, Per Se!
Professionals, by definition, usually hold a 2-year or more academic degree and are autonomous, which means they have a high degree of control of their own affairs insofar as making independent judgments about their work. This means they have the freedom to exercise their own professional judgement and practice their skill independently. Examples of professionals are doctors, psychologists, therapists, engineers and lawyers.
Therefore using the term “medical assistant professional” is a misnomer.
Unlike the above mentioned professionals, medical assistants CANNOT work independently, make independent decisions, independently triage, give medical advice, change prescriptions, administer medications, or make adjustments to patient care plans.
Medical assistants must work under the direct supervision of the doctor who hired them and are considered strictly assisting and supporting staff. Nevertheless, medical assistants are highly respected and held in high esteem among doctors and patients; their function and presence in the medical office is regarded as important and their employers and supervisors agree they would be lost without them. Patients, their family members, and the community as a whole appreciates their services and assistance to them as a first point of contact in the medical office.
The term “medical assistant salary”, which is so often used to reference medical assistant pay, is yet another misnomer. Medical assistant pay typically consists of hourly wages received in exchange for their labor. Although many people refer to the medical assistant’s pay as a salary, their pay is a wage. A salary is a form of periodic payment which it typically specified in an employment contract and, by definition, is not calculated based on exact hours, or other units worked.
Becoming a Medical Assistant
Becoming a medical assistant involves work related instruction usually in form of vocational education from a formal post-secondary educational and training program, or direct on the job training provided and overseen by a physician. Many medical assistants voluntarily join a professional membership association, such as the AAMA, RMA, NRMA or NHA. These professional bodies typically define, promote, oversee, support and regulate the affairs of its members and require a certain amount of annual continuing education units (CEU) to maintain their membership and credentials active.