The current American healthcare landscape is experiencing a notable transformation and expansion, thanks to factors such as the aging baby boomer generation swelling the ranks of older and elderly Americans needing healthcare. Other factors, such as increased access to healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act, and even the influence of technology on healthcare delivery, are also influencing healthcare.
Growing NeedOverall, the picture is promising for new graduates entering the workplace with certification in entry-level medical skills, such as medical assisting. Medical assistants largely work in physicians’ offices, and these offices are largely responsible for providing the additional preventive care necessitated by the large, aging boomer population. Therefore, the market for medical assistants is expected to remain robust for the foreseeable future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a division of the United States Department of Labor), the demand for Medical Assistants is expected to grow at a rate deemed, at 23%, “which is much faster than the average for all occupations” for the period from 2014 through 2024. Even better, jobs are open to people who earn certification, but who otherwise have no previous experience in medicine. Perhaps even better, many people who earn certification as a Medical Assistant use the knowledge and experience acquired in school and on the job as a springboard toward more demanding—and potentially more lucrative—careers in the healthcare field.
Medical assistants typically work in administrative capacities, in workplaces such as physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Some Medical Assistants may perform certain limited clinical duties as well. This may include tasks such as measuring and recording vital signs, assisting with physical examinations, and preparing blood samples for laboratory testing.
Solid Career or Stepping Stone: the Choice is YoursMedical assisting is a solid career for some. For others, it is viewed as the first step toward greater responsibility—and more rewarding compensation. The latter may choose to continue their education, earn diplomas or degrees in other healthcare-related occupations, such as becoming a registered nurse, or even pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. The latter requires a master’s degree.
While an associate degree in nursing is also a good stepping stone toward a career in healthcare, the trend is toward earning at least a baccalaureate degree to secure the best jobs in nursing. In that instance, nurses who entered the profession initially with only an associate degree can then enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to earn the BSN degree many employers are starting to demand in order to move up within any given healthcare workplace.