Medical Assisting Programs in Texas

Medical assistants are a critical part of the front line in both the medical front and back offices. While some medical assistants do have specialized duties or perform the same task throughout the day, job responsibilities are often varied, and can include both clerical and clinical tasks.

According to a work survey by the American Association of Medical Assistants, frequent job duties include scheduling appointments, assisting with medical exams, taking patient health histories, and measuring vital signs. Many medical assistants also give injections and run lab tests. Some are involved with billing and coding, too. It’s a lot of work, and more and more, it’s becoming a job for educated career professionals.

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Texas

Medical assisting students in the Lone Star State learn anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and patient care principles, as well as how to assist doctors with a variety of procedures, including minor surgeries. Administrative courses, meanwhile, introduce them to office management, billing and coding, and computer programs. Communication skills are also emphasized. Toward the end of the program, a student can expect to put in significant hours at an actual healthcare facility. If the program is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, he can later sit for board exams through AAMA (CMA) or AMT (RMA). Although not legally mandated, certification is a strong signal of competence.

Some Texas residents are eligible for special programs which may pay all or part of the cost of their schooling. Veterans may look into the Yellow Ribbon program. Yellow Ribbon partner schools are those who have entered into partnership agreements with the veterans administration to make up the difference when education costs exceed standard benefits. Texas boasts a number of schools participating in Yellow Ribbon.

Students may want to ask prospective schools, too, about placement services and job rates, if this information is not posted. Some schools are required by their accrediting body to collect such information. Westwood College, for example, boasts having graduates employed in facilities like Livingston Pediatric, Presbyterian and Harris Methodist Hospitals, and Avalon Urgent Care.

Medical Assistant Salary and Job Outlook in Texas

The Texas Society of Medical Assistants, TSMA, is another career resource. Occasionally, positions for CMAs are posted directly on the site. Members can also make forum posts, or information requests, if, for example, they are moving to a new area of the state and need information about the job climate there. TSMA is the state affiliate of AAMA. Like state chapters around the nation, it is also a resource for earning those continuing education units that are so important for staying on top of the medical assisting profession. There are six local chapters; they can be found in Dallas, the Bay area, the Rio Grande, Bexar County, Gregg County, and NE and SW Harris. A representative notes that one does not actually have to be certified through AAMA to belong to TSMA.

Fully 40,890 Texas workers were employed in the medical assisting industry in 2009. The greater Dallas area, if one includes Fort Worth and Arlington, employed more than 11,000 MAs. Some of the other big cities also post huge numbers of workers in the industry. Houston employed 9,580, and San Antonio, 4,830. As for the college town of Austin and its suburbs? 3,060.

What can a medical assistant expect to earn in Texas? According to BLS figures, medical assistants averaged $12.99 an hour in 2009, though there was quite a range. As with all jobs, wages vary by years of experience and credentials. Some metropolitan areas, too, saw significantly higher hourly wages than others. In the Austin and Dallas metropolitan areas, wages exceeded $14.00. Medical assistants in the Fort Worth-Arlington area had an average wage of $13.84; the same also held true of the much smaller community of Midland. Houston was at $13.31, San Antonio, $12.48, and Corpus Christi, $11.37. El Paso reported significantly lower wages: $10.56.

Medical Assistant Programs Offered in Your State

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