Medical Assistant Programs in Massachusetts
Medical assistants are versatile, multi-skilled health care assistants who are frequently found in the offices of physicians and other medical professionals. Although some have narrow or specialized roles, it is common for a medical assistant to handle both clerical and patient care duties. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) released a survey in 2010 that described the working life of over 3,500 workers across the nation. Scheduling appointments, assisting with exams, obtaining vital signs, and giving injections were listed among the more frequent duties. A significant number of medical assistants also performed EKGs, ran lab work, and/ or processed medical records. That’s a lot of work — and increasingly it’s the domain of educated, credentialed workers.
How to Become a Medical Assistant in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Medical Assistant Resources
Medical assisting programs vary in format and, to a lesser degree, in content. An accredited program includes some core medical courses that are common to other allied health professions (medical terminology, anatomy and physiology) as well as instruction in various clinical, laboratory, and administrative tasks. Communication and ethics also receive some coverage.
Toward the end of an accredited program, a student spends time working in an actual health care facility. At program closure, he or she is ready to sit for board exams through AAMA (as long as the program was accredited by the CAAHEP or ABHES) and/or AMT. Together these organizations comprise the main certifying bodies nationwide. Both are respected, CCA-recognized programs, but there are some differences between the two. AAMA certifies workers in only one profession, medical assisting, while AMT credentials workers in a variety of health technology fields. AAMA requires 60 continuing education units every five years to renew certification. This caps off the most rigorous set of standards of any medical assisting certifying agency and makes it, in the words of an AAMA state officer, a gold standard. The officer does note, however, that AMT is moving toward instituting continuing education requirements of its own. (The AMT site currently states that continuing education is highly encouraged.) Some MAs choose to maintain credentials with both AAMA and AMT, thus increasing networking and education opportunities, and in some cases job prospects.
Medical Assistant Salary and Job Outlook in Massachusetts
Certified medical assistants or CMA can also find career resources, from networking to continuing education, through the state and local chapters of their certifying agency. Massachusetts currently has an AMT chapter, and has joined forces with Rhode Island and Connecticut. There is an active and established AAMA affiliate, the Massachusetts State Society of Medical Assistants, which boasts five district chapters, in areas such as Boston, Hampden, and New Falls River. A representative notes that while some hold more frequent meetings than others, all offer similar continuing education opportunities.
In Massachusetts, competent and skilled medical assistants do ultimately enjoy good compensation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Massachusetts medical assistants have an average hourly pay of $16.58. This is above the national average.
The Boston-Cambridge area is listed at the slightly higher figure of $17.25. In the smaller community of Barnstable Town, wages are even higher; the average of $19.56 is in fact one of the highest in the nation. (The region does, of course, employ fewer workers.) The city of Peabody is listed at $17.20 and New Bedford at $14.85. Even the nonmetropolitan areas of the state report solid wages.
Experience of course makes some difference. AAMA reports an average of $16.13 for medical assistants in the New England region and describes how wages may increase with years in the field. $13.58 is the reported average for respondents with two or fewer years in the profession while $15.08 is the average for those with three to five years experience. For those in the ten to fifteen year experience range, the average increases to $17.08
Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State
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