Becoming a Medical Assistant – A step by Step Approach

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? Here are some guidelines for making a smooth school-to-work transition.

  1. Use your high school years to get a broad educational background. Medical assistants need both clerical and patient care skills. Take chemistry and biology, composition, computer skills, typing, and heath exploration courses.

  2. Get some work experience. Shadow a medical assistant to find out what s/he actually does on the job. You can locate job shadow opportunities in multiple ways: through the website of major hospitals, through the website of Learning for Life, or through your guidance counselor.

    You might also look for work in an office setting, even if it’s not in the medical field.

  3. Research programs. Make sure your school is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (AHBES), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or some other accrediting body approved by the Department of Education if your are interested in becoming a CMA or Certified Medical Assistant. [Find Medical Assisting Schools] Pursue CPR certification and complete any prerequisites.

  4. Excel. Make the most of your externship opportunities. These are short unpaid work experiences in health care facilities. They may lead to permanent job opportunities down the road.

  5. Graduate and take the exam to get your certification. (CMA or RMA) [Learn more about becoming a CMA or RMA]

  6. Network to find a job or use online job boards. If you are certified, you are also a member of a professional organization that offers networking opportunities. The American Association of Medical Assistants has active state and regional branches around the nation.

Personality Traits: Medical assistants need both organizational skills and people skills. They should be good multi-taskers and have the ability to switch easily from one task to another.