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Medical Assisting Programs in Virginia

Medical assisting is a growing profession in more than one way. First of all, itís growing in sheer numbers. Virginia counted 9,760 medical assistants among its workforce in 2008; that number is expected to become 13,130 in 2018. The occupation is growing, too, in its status as a profession. Virginia has had a professional association for medical assistants since 1956, long before most people had even heard of the field. At that time, though, the membership numbered only 32. VSMA, or the Virginia Society of Medical Assistants, now has more than 300 members, and it is not even the only professional organization for medical assistants in Virginia.

What do medical assistants do that makes them invaluable members of the health community? They are a doctorís front line, carrying out both clinical and clerical duties, usually in ambulatory settings. Virginiaís statutes allow a range of clinical duties, according to Don Balasa, Legal Counsel for the American Association of Medical Assistants. They are allowed, first of all, the standard duties permissible around the nation, which are described in literature by the Bureau of Labor. These duties include taking patientsí vital signs, getting them ready for examination, collecting specimens, and running lab tests. In Virginia, a medical assistant is also allowed to administer medication under supervision by a doctor or osteopath. This is something that varies from state to state. (Some types of medication, like intravenous and epidural solutions, are prohibited, it should be noted.)

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Virginia

How does one enter the medical assisting field? Virginiaís statutes also stipulate that medical assistants must be properly trained, but do not articulate where the training is to take place or how may hours it will include. In the past, it was common to receive initial training on the job. Employers around the nation now increasingly prefer to hire workers who already have expertise in the field.

Student have a choice between a associateís program and a certificate or diploma. Some associateís courses include general studies This can prove a career advantage for some. If youíre a teen, you may want to try a different path at the onset. You can volunteer at agencies like the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic in Fredricksburg and see if the job is right for you. Of course, such clinics are happy to procure volunteers of nearly any age, but spending volunteer time trying out different job positions is often most feasible for the very young. The Fredricksburg clinic has targeted teens and people 55 and older when advertising.

Salary and Job Outlook in Virginia

The BLS, in 2008, predicted medical assisting in the Old Dominion would see 35% growth over the next ten years; this figure is just above the national average of 34%. Fully 450 positions were expected to open a year. Thatís good news for those who want to become a part of this vital profession.

The average hourly wage for Virginiaís medical assistants was $14.34 in 2009. 10% earned above $19.68, although another 10% did fall below $10.05. There is some regional difference in wages. Outside the greater DC area, surprisingly, the highest wages in the state were reported for a very small city; medical assistants in the Blue Ridge town of Winchester were averaging $16.86, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The capitol city of Richmond was listed well below this at $14.50. This region employed an impressive 1,500 MAs, though, which makes it an attractive market. Medical assistants in Charlottesville, meanwhile, made $15.00 and those in Roanoke, $13.16. The lowest wages were in the southwestern nonmetropolitan regions of the state.

Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State

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