Medical Assisting Programs in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s ambulatory health care services is expected to add 4,358 jobs between 2008 and 2018. That figure represents hope and new opportunity for many people! Healthcare is a broad industry, though, that appeals to people with a wide range of talents and educational levels. How do you know if a career as a medical assistant might be right for you? You may want to pursue medical assisting if you are good at customer service and are drawn to a variety of tasks, from office work to patient care. Medical assistants, particularly those at small practices, do a bit of everything.

The most common job duties, according to a survey carried out in 2008 by the American Association of Medical Assistants, include taking patient vital signs and health history. Medical assistants may also do a range of routine laboratory tests as well as assist with more minor surgical operations. The most common front desk duty is appointment setting, but medical records management and insurance billing are also common.

Another advantage to medical assisting is that if one has the foundational skills, there can be a relatively quick path to a paycheck.

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Rhode Island

Medical assistant schools teach skills applicable to the examining room and laboratory, as well as the medical front desk. Prospective medical assistants can locate schools in many locations in Rhode Island, including East Providence and New London; they can even attend online in their own homes. Accredited programs — those that qualify graduates to sit for national board exams — do include practicum work in an actual healthcare facility.

A medical assisting program may last 14 weeks to two or more years. How do you know which is right for you? If you are investing a lot of time and money, you’ll want one that qualifies you to sit for board exams through AAMA or AMT. Accrediting agencies and certifying boards set standards high, requiring, for example, a minimum number of practicum hours and/ or written agreements between involved parties. This is for the protection of the student, the future employee, and, ultimately the patient as well.

Prerequisites may include reading, math, and English language proficiency at the high school level; this is somewhat lower than what is often required for nursing programs. They do require a lot of skill, though, including interpersonal intelligence and good communication ability. Thus, they may be a good option for students who count people skills among their best attributes!

Medical Assistant Job Outlook in Rhode Island

According to the Rhode Island Industry and Occupation Projections, positions should increase from 1,700 to 2,150 over the span of a decade. This is a growth rate of 26%. To put this in perspective, Rhode Island expects an overall job growth of 7.8% across all occupations. Medical assisting is an in demand occupation, for which some displaced/ dislocated workers may qualify for assistance through the Workforce Investment Act.

Governmental figures indicate that Rhode Island’s medical assistants have a median wage of $14.87, which is about a dollar above the national median. 10% of the state’s medical assistants make over $19.92, but another 10% do fall below $9.98. Experience is an important factor. Geography makes some difference, too. EmployRI, the state’s job bank, tells what medical assistants make at different stages of the career. In the greater Providence area, for instance, the entry level salary is $27,300, but the salary for an experienced worker is $35,290. In the Norwich area, figures are very slightly lower. $26,950 is listed as the typical entry level salary, and $34,950 as the salary that an experienced worker can command. It pays to train for a job you love!

Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State

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