Becoming a Medical Assistant: A Checklist


Those seeking a  career in a growing industry would do well pursuing a career in medical assisting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over 160,000 new jobs will be created in the next seven years.. But before you envision completing your first week on the job it’s important to understand what becoming a medical assistant means, and what it’s like to be one.

Read on for a personal checklist in becoming a medical assistant:

Checkbox 1: Know what the Career Entails

The first step in becoming a medical assistant is to understand the soft skills required to be successful. Medical assistants have to be people-friendly due to their constant dealings with patients and doctors. They must also be dedicated to their craft, as working in the healthcare industry requires constant focus and a love for helping people. The last trait to possess is flexibility. Due to the varying nature of the hours you’ll work, those dead set on the 9-to-5 probably aren’t suited for a career in healthcare.

Checkbox 2: Research Your Available Paths

There isn’t one exact way in becoming a medical assistant. Those fortunate enough gain experience through on-the-job training, while others learn a combination of theory and hands-on techniques through online programs.  It is possible to become a medical assistant without anything more than GED and some training. The most surefire path would be to attend an accredited medical assistant training program like Arizona College and then go on to receive the proper certification.

Checkbox 3: Pursue Your Desired Path

If on-the-job training is your choice, you must find a doctor willing to take you in and teach you the ropes. If attending a formal training program through a school like Arizona College feels like the route for you, then deciding on your desired program length is the next step. You can usually earn a diploma within a year while an associate’s degree takes anywhere from a year and a half to two years. If you do choose the associate degree path, such as Arizona College’s, you’ll receive a well-rounded curriculum offering clinical laboratory work, computer courses, and healthcare fundamentals followed by a 5-week clinical externship.

Checkbox 4: Get Certified

Even though becoming a certified medical assistant is not required, we certainly recommend it to further your skills and boost your resume. Each of our graduates can seek certification either as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) or a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) by completing the required steps. RMA certification carries a $100 application fee, while a CMA will run you $125. You can look on both of these websites for study outlines and practice examinations. From there you can schedule the exam, and upon passing, will be sent your certificate and membership info in the mail.

Checkbox 5: Spruce Up Your Resume/Experience

You’ve finished your program and/or certification, and now you’re all set in becoming a medical assistant. All that’s left is to polish up that resume! Keep your resume concise and craft a succinct cover letter that you can alter depending on the organization you’re applying to. Utilize career services at your school to get extra sets of eyes on it.

Checkbox 6: Look for Jobs

Again, utilize the career services program at the school you attended to aid you in your job search. They’ll ask you questions about your ideal work environment, desired pay, preferred work schedule, size of company, and all sorts of other questions to identify potential companies and situations you’d be happy working in. It’s best to find a company that will continue your education and provide ample room for growth.

Checkbox 7: Prepare to Nail the Interview

While no two interviews are exactly alike, there are some typical questions you should be prepared for heading into the interview. These questions range from questions about your actual hands-on medical assistant skills to culture fit questions that will be unique to the organization you’re interviewing with. There will also be the basic background questions asked.

As said above, most or all programs offering medical assistant diplomas or associates degrees will have a career services department that should be able to prepare you to answer the various types of question specific to the education you’ve received.

Checkbox 8: Start your New Career

Congrats! You’ve landed the job and have a bright, stable future ahead of you. Now eat a solid breakfast and pack a good lunch. You don’t want to be on your feet all day with an empty stomach, do you?

A career as a Medical Assistant is one that you can be proud of.  On a daily basis, Medical Assistants provide much needed care to patients and work side-by-side with other healthcare professionals.  If you are looking for information on how to become a Medical Assistant; the first step is to find an accredited school, like Arizona College.  If you would like to start your Medical Assisting journey with us, we would love to have you.  Learn more today!

Information in this blog post is accurate as of December 1, 2015.