If you’re right out of medical assisting school, you’re likely to join the workforce as an entry-level CMA. Gaining experience, becoming proficient in skills and widening your medical knowledge base are all tools you’ll need to advance in your career as a medical assistant. You may decide to aim for a management job, work in a competitive area of medicine or go into teaching. No matter your goals for career advancement, a few extra tools may help you successfully work toward advancement opportunities.
What Advancement Opportunities Might Be Available?
Medical assistants may find career advancement opportunities in many areas:
- Clinical team leader
- Lead medical assistant
- Medical office manager
- Clinical office manager
- Medical assistant instructor
- Medical records manager
- Healthcare administration
- Executive medical office secretary
- Transcription supervisor
Be open with your employer about your desire to advance in your career. Seek opportunities that are available in your organization and find out what requirements you need to apply.
Choose a Specialty
No matter if you work in medical administration or clinical practice, choosing a specialty can be a wise choice for future career advancement opportunities. Some medical specialties require more knowledge and skills than others and may offer opportunities for better pay and extended responsibilities.
Clinical fields like podiatry, pediatrics and ophthalmology, cardiology and emergency medicine are specialties that require advanced knowledge and skill ability. Podiatric medical assistants are specially trained to assist a podiatrist in the care of feet. Duties might include making foot castings for orthotics, helping with surgical procedures, casting, wound care and splinting. Ophthalmic medical assistants administer eye tests and assist the physician with eye care procedure. Pediatrics requires knowledge of childhood diseases, immunizations and routine well-child care, while cardiology may require you to perform cardiac tests, be familiar with routine cardiac medications, emergency procedures and more.
Medical specialties like these can be demanding and have a higher learning curve. Because of the demands, employers may have a harder time finding qualified medical assistants to fill open positions. If you’re currently working in an entry-level medical assistant position, moving into a medical specialty may offer better opportunities. The longer you work in a specialty practice that you enjoy, the more valuable your skills and knowledge will become to your employer.
Medical assistants working in administration may also find career advancement opportunities. Choosing a position in medical billing and coding, transcription or medical records may lead to management opportunities in these and other areas.
Medical assistants can earn specialized certifications which may help procure better paying jobs and career advancements. If you’ve not yet become certified as a medical assistant, consider doing so. Earning your certified medical assistant (CMA) credential shows your employer that you are dedicated to your field and competent. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) provides the nationally recognized CMA credential.
Additional certifications may go hand-in-hand with your CMA credential. Consider advanced certifications that are relevant for your career path. Certifications are available in phlebotomy, as an electrocardiogram technician, in intravenous therapy, childbirth education or nutrition education.
Administrative certifications are also available, and in some cases, are required by employers and for moving up the career ladder. Medical coding and billing and electronic medical records administration certifications may be good choices. Some medical assistants may choose to advance into medical administration by earning healthcare administration certification.
Staying abreast of medical advancements and increasing knowledge and skills in your field are good ways of showing potential employers that you are a good candidate for advancement. There are many ways to stay current:
- Attend conferences for medical assistants to learn about new medical treatments, skills and medications.
- Read professional journals
- Attend conferences for allied health professionals, and not just targeted to medical assistants. These offer a wide variety of topics and learning opportunities.
- Attend in-house conferences and meetings held at your workplace.
Consider attending one to two conferences per year in your area of interest. Earning continuing education credits offered at conferences, or by completing quizzes and exams offered in professional journals, are another good way to increase your knowledge and skills.
Professional journals can be expensive. If you currently work for a medical facility, a variety of medical journals are likely sent to physicians in your workplace. Ask if you may borrow any extra journals or those that a physician is finished with. If you live near a teaching hospital, the local library may have medical magazines in-house.
No matter what your career goals, taking small steps early in your career can prepare you for advancement opportunities in the future. Ultimately, attitude, work ethic, determination and proficiency in skills and responsibilities are all important as you work towards career advancement.
Filed under: Medical assistant