Medical Assistant Programs in Missouri
If you are considering a career in medical assisting, this could be a good time to start. Missouri has a rapidly aging population, and this translates into a high requirement for qualified health workers. Yet there are over 200 different health professions. How can you tell if a career in medical assisting is right for you? You are caring and competent. You like variety. You feel comfortable working with patients, but like clerical and administrative duties as well. You want a quick entry into the field. You may not want to pursue a lengthy degree program. If you do, you may not be sure which area of health/medicine to specialize in, or you may have an eye on health care administration — billing or coding, perhaps. You may also see specialized technological roles in your future.
Medical assisting programs are often compared to programs in practical nursing or nurse assisting. How do they compare? While all can vary in length, depending on general education requirements, medical assisting programs often offer a quicker transition into the workforce than do those in nursing. There is less of an emphasis on decision making and conceptualization and more on mastery of procedures. The requirements for math and biology may be a little lower. Some concepts will be covered that are not covered in practical nursing, for instance, how to bill insurance companies or run an office. Medical assisting does offer fewer opportunities for advancement in clinical patient care (or at least fewer transferable credits). There are options, though, in administration and health technologies.
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Missouri
Missouri’s Medical Assistant Organizations/Resources
- AAMA Chapters in MO: Jasper County & Springfield Contact: Sarah R. Kuzera, CMA (AAMA)
- Missouri State Society AMT
Another advantage to medical assisting, for parents and busy professionals, is that scheduling is often flexible, and most of the initial coursework can be completed online. The initial sequence includes courses in medical terminology, pharmacology, and anatomy as well as insurance policies and coding taxonomies.
Accredited programs do include field experience at the end of the program; this is important for patient safety. Some schools, though, make even this portion of the course flexible; allowing a student to have a hand in selecting their externship site. (It is generally considered poor practice to leave a student to arrange the externship without support, but a collaborative process may work well.) There are usually health and safety requirements that must be met before going out into the field, for instance, health screening and CPR certification. The transition will be smoother if these are handled well in advance.
After graduation from a accredited program, a candidate can take credentialing examinations through either AAMA or AMT. The programs for AAMA certification as a certified medical assistant in Missouri must be accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES.
Medical Assistant Salary and Job Outlook in Missouri
Medical assistants in Missouri have a mean hourly wage of $12.70, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Across the nation, medical assistants make more in urban settings than in rural or even suburban ones. In Missouri, though, some of the highest wages are actually reported for a nonmetropolitan area: the central nonmetropolitan division. (This region, it should be noted, does employ over 600 medical assistants.) Springfield, Columbia, and Joplin are also listed at over $12.00 an hour while Jefferson City is just lower at $11.82. The lowest wages are in the southeastern rural areas and small towns which report a collective average of $10.67. A 2010 AAMA work survey found that medical assistants in the East South Central region who had three to five years of experience were earning about a dollar more an hour than those with zero to two years of experience.
For some medical assisting is a lifelong career. Others see it as a stepping stone to something even more lucrative. A representative of National American University indicated that it was her understanding that credits there would transfer from an associate’s into a baccalaureate in health care administration. The BLS reports medical administration as a common career path for medical assistants, but you will of course want to talk with representatives of particular colleges you are considering. [You may be interested in additional allied health, science, nursing and pre-professional programs in MO.]
Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State
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