Thursday, April 19, 2007

I Feel Like I Wasted my Time

Most Medical Assistant Program Graduates Get Frustrated When They Do Not Find a Job Right Away...

One frustrated Medical Assistant student let off some steam and posted on our Medical Assistant Web Forum that she is tired of seeing medical assistants being hired right off the street, while she cannot land a job anywhere with her training. She says: "I feel like I wasted my time... how 'bout you?"

------------------ The Project:
With my curiosity sparked, I did go ahead and spent a good amount of time on looking into whether "MAs are getting hired right off the street". Since I found the statement a little bit off, I REALLY wanted to know whether that was indeed so. I know that if I WERE A DOCTOR, I would not want to jeopardize my reputation, and licence, nor quality of services by hiring someone off the street to take care of my patients (and business).

All right, I admit, that a little under three hours of research will NOT EVEN CLOSELY speak for every doctor in the entire United States, however, based on what I have seen I dare to refute the assertion that properly educated and trained medical assistants have a huge disadvantage over their untrained counter parts walking the streets.

My simple research focused on the following three main areas:

1.) Job offers on the Internet (Monster & CareerBuilder)
2.) Job offers in the local newspaper (Last week Saturday & Sunday, and Wednesday)
3.) And a quick trip to FutureWorks Career Center

------------------ The Result:

I have seen thousands of Medical Assistant job offers in all disciplines posted for places in every state.

Rarely did they NOT ask for at least the medical assistant diploma, and experience, but most were looking for certified medical assistant.

One ad that remotely can be understood as mildly indicating that there is a chance to get the job without specific qualification, but offering a chance to may be work your way up eventually as a medical assistant was worded as follows:

Front Desk Staff Person
Company: Ozog Eye Care
Description: Front Desk Staff Person

Front desk person needed for fast paced Ophthalmic practice. Must be dependable, detail oriented, able to multi-task and organized. Patience and compassion in a patient setting required. Answering of multi-phone lines, scheduling, chart preparation, knowledge and entry of patient insurance billing information. F/T, M-F, Benefits available. Salary DOE. Mail resume to:1417 9th St South #100Great Falls, MT 59405Source - Great Falls Tribune - Great Falls, MT

------------------ My Comments:
I was very pleased to find that MANY of the advertised jobs NOW OFFER benefit and bonus packages to the medical assistants! Although the hourly wages still range close to what they were 5-7 years ago, benefits and bonuses were HARDLY EVER offered to medical assistants back then.

So, I was really glad to see what I hope is the beginning of a new trend and employer's realization of the value of their medical assistant staff. If a medical assistant can earn $12 PLUS benefits, that's a big step up.

All in all, I did not find any evidence that recruiters, and employers seek to hire medical assistants off the street to train them themselves. As a matter of fact, I believe the trend is indeed the exact opposite.

The U.S. Department of Labor has predicted year after year and continues to do so:
Employment in health care will continue to grow for several reasons. The number of people in older age groups, with much greater than average health care needs, will grow faster than the total population between 2004 and 2014; as a result, the demand for health care will increase.As the largest industry in 2004, health care provided 13.5 million jobs—13.1 million jobs for wage and salary workers and about 411,000 jobs for the self-employed.

8 out of 20 occupations projected to grow the fastest are in health care.

More new wage and salary jobs—about 19 percent, or 3.6 million—created between 2004 and 2014 will be in health care than in any other industry.

------------------ Sources & References:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Occupational Statistics
Medical Assistant/Healthcare Jobs
Medical Assistant/Healthcare Jobs

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Salary Question....

A much discussed topic among new medical assistants is their salary. Low medical assistant pay, and whether the medical assisting profession should be more regulated by the state to increase standards, and wages is a much debated topic in our active Medical Assistant Web Forum.

Many are so discouraged, they are torn. It is obvious that they find the medical assisting career attractive, and they'd love to work in the medical office under the direct supervision of a licenced health care provider, but on the other hand, they are thinking about going into the nursing field for the money instead.

I wish I had all the answers for those who are frustrated, undecided, under the crunch, or in a slump. Because a career path is such an individual choice, and without going into the pros and cons of personal reasons for becoming a medical assistant, or LPN, I can share the following food for thought.

Here are some of my own awareness and decision making exercises in hopes that they serve as a guide, or inspiration. Whenever I have to make career choice, or arrived at a cross to advance in a certain direction, these are some of the things I always ask myself about myself, and my work situation first. Knowing the answers helps me to remain competitive and on the right track, which includes getting what I want (not just give what others want) out of my career, and the right salary.

An employee may not have the final say-so over their salary, but they have the power to create a true win-win situation, if they know the following about their job and themselves.... But never forget, first and foremost the old saying: "Know thyself first!".

1. What is a successful person?
2. What does my career mean to me?
3. How do I do my best every day?
4. How can I improve?
5. How do I build rapport with my employer
6. What is "give value first"?
7. What is the best way to add value?
8. How do I find a mentor?
9. What causes my fear of failure?
10. What should I do with my spare time?
11. How can I invest my time, not spend it?
12. What is the best way to impress my boss?
13. How am I helping to build the business?
14. What do I have to do to get ahead?
15. How do I show my value and create awareness of it?
16. What value do I bring beyond my job description?
17. How do I show that I am loyal?
18. How approachable and cooperative am I?
19. What am I "known" for?
20. What am I recognized as being the best for?
21. What do others in the industry say about me?
22. What is the best time and way to ask for a raise?
23. What is the best way to approach my boss?
24. How can I make my request stand out?
25. What is the best way to follow up?

(Drum-roll) And here the final "AHA"!

26. How much do I love what I do here?
27. What does it take to keep me here?
28. Do I need to look for a job elsewhere?

Opportunities abound in the medical assisting field. The key to success is knowing yourself first, knowing your job, knowing your boss, and knowing the job market. If your boss realizes your value to the success of the practice and patients... chances are s/he will reason with you, and reward you to keep you.

If not, too bad! Know what you want, and what you have to offer, let your boss know what you have to offer, and what you want, and just in case the relationship doesn't work out... always have your resume up-to-date and ready to go.

To learn more about educational requirements, and practical tips for handling emergencies, and proper documentation visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web. There is lots of additional "scope of practice for medical assistants" info at that web site.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Medical Assistant Career Outlook

Okay, you have heard it over and over again: medical assisting will be one of the fastest growing occupational healthcare services in the USA through the year 2010. And guess what? It is true!

Recent US Job Market Trend AnalysisHealth care employment has increased by 264,000 jobs over the year 2005, according to a September 2, 2005 statement by BLS Commissioner Kathleen P. Utgoff.

Medical Assistant's OutlookMedical assistants held about 365,000 jobs in 2002. Sixty percent worked in physicians' offices; 15 percent worked in hospitals, including in- and outpatient healthcare facilities. The rest were employed in nursing homes, offices of other health practitioners and other healthcare facilities.

Read: US Department of Labor

US Bureau of Labor Statistics for Medical Assistants:Currently, about 12 million people work in the healthcare industry in the United States, which includes approximately 800,000 physicians in ambulatory (primary), secondary (specialty) and tertiary care, along with 2.1 million RN's and 500,000 medical assistants. The need for medical assistants is expected to continue to grow.

Medical Assistants are on the Move!
Medical assistants are moving into every direction. Their training may qualify them for a variety of other related administrative support occupations such as medical records clerk or medical billing and coding specialist. Some may become medical assisting instructors, while others may continue their own education and work on an associate degree in medical assisting.

There are many job opportunities for medical assistants and more places to work than just physician's offices. Medical Assistants can work in...
  • Physician's and healthcare practitioner's medical offices (private and group practices)
  • Specialty and subspecialty offices (ophthalmology, podiatry)
  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Offices owned by licensed health practitioners
  • Outpatient medical care centers
  • Other ambulatory medical services (e.g. emergency services)
Others find work with...
  • Ambulatory hemodialysis clinics
  • Temporary staffing agencies
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Schools
  • Rehab clinics and spas
  • Correctional facilities and prisons
  • Pharmacies
  • Chiropractors, dentists, or veterinarians
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs
Medical Assistant's Earnings:Medical assistant salary range surveys indicated that the average monthly salaries for entry level medical assistants currently range from $1,600 to $1,760 net per month, compared with a range of $1,500 to $1,600 net three years ago.

After two years of experience average monthly salaries range from $1,900 to $2,200 monthly net; mostly depending on where you live and also what type of medical office. Specialists pay more than general family physicians.

Medical Assistants generally receive higher salaries and more benefits than those without certification credentials.Private Practice vs. HospitalSingle doctors' offices, especially specialty physicians often pay more than hospitals.