Medical Assistant Programs in Florida

Are you considering a career assisting doctors and patients? Competent and caring health care professionals are certainly in demand in Florida. Florida has the highest percentage of elderly residents of any state, as well as the most elderly in sheer number. This helps fuel the health sector. But which health care profession is best for a person who is entering the field? It depends on your aptitudes and aspirations.

Prospective students are often confused about the difference between a medical assistant and a vocational nurse. Nurses are licensed by the state while medical assistants work under the license of a doctor or other medical professional. Medical assistants do not perform educational duties or have responsibilities which require professional judgment. They are, however, the mainstay of the doctors’ office, performing clinical and clerical duties alike. Chapter 458 of the Florida statutes characterizes medical assistants as professional multi-skilled persons, and outlines their permitted clinical duties. These include taking vital signs, performing finger pricks and non-intravenous injections, collecting specimens, and even performing dialysis.

How does one become a medical assistant in Florida? It starts with education.

Medical Assistant Certification in Florida

In Florida, as elsewhere, a medical assistant training program includes core medical courses like anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and (in some cases) radiography. Students also learn clinical and laboratory procedures and complete an externship. Students who have completed accredited programs may choose to pursue certification through AAMA or AMT. Students who choose AAMA will need to sit for a certification exam and then recertify every five years through examination or continuing education. The CEU requirement is relatively painless if one plans ahead; it is possible to earn units at one’s own home computer. There can be advantages to being part of a national organization. Both AMT and AAMA certifications are mentioned in the Florida statutes, and both agencies can serve as career resources and sources of counsel regarding issues like scope of practice and legalities.

The Florida Society of Medical Assistants, an affiliate of AAMA, can be another valuable resource. There are seven local chapters, which include the Everglades, Central Gulf Coast, and Treasure Coast. The Florida chapter of AMT also holds events and maintains web resources. A state gathering was held in August of 2010 in Ft. Lauderdale. Classes were held in hematology and serotology as well as general clinical and administrative medical assisting review.

Medical Assistant Salary and Job Outlook

Florida is a desirable place to retire, and this makes it a desirable place for health professionals as well. The BLS predicted that the next ten years would see 31% growth in Florida’s medical assisting profession. 1,460 positions were anticipated each year, as the result of retirement and job turnover as well as industry growth.

MAs typically earn less than vocational nurses, but this actually means they can get hired in some settings where LPNs are less likely to be hired — e.g. doctors offices. What do MAs make? The average wage for a medical assistant in Florida is $13.84. There is, however, some variance, based on years of experience as well as location within the state. Naples-Marco Island tops the state at $16.80. The Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach metropolitan areas both report average salaries of $14.69 The greater Miami area is also at around $14.00 an hour, as is much smaller Port St. Lucie. The nonmetropolitan areas to the north are among the lowest in the state with averages under $12.00 an hour. This is consistent with nationwide trends as major metropolitan areas tend to pay more. Just as wages vary from region to region within Florida, so do hiring preferences. It can be a good idea to study job ads — and not just the nationally advertised ones on the internet.

Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State

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