Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Medical Assistant Job With No Experience

What doctors want and new medical assistants don't know... have you ever decided to skip a job ad and not apply because it specified 1–2 years job experience which you don't have (or may be you do, but you don't know it)? Here is why and how you should apply for these positions anyway.

We have been writing a lot about the medical assistant job application process, resume writing and how to word your cover letter. In essence, a cover letter speaks of the reasons why you should be considered for an available position and why you feel you are the perfect match.

In the past, we have also discussed the so-called catch-22 situation when new medical assistant school graduates without job experience wish to apply for advertised jobs, but do not have the expected years of experience. While there hardly ever are any clear cut answers that work one-hundred percent all the time, we have made several suggestions that should prove helpful and at least, get the attention your application deserves.

We want inexperienced medical assistants to realize that there ARE opportunities for them out there, and persistence pays off. Don't let your peers discourage you, and don't let the words 1–2 years experience deter you from your ambitions.

Valued Attributes and Related Job Experience From Other Jobs

In today's fast paced job market ANY employer says in their ads that they want experience, which to some extend is true, but what you need to understand is that work related experience comes in many forms, and your successful completion of your externship and prior other job experience, or volunteer work, or even your engagement in extra curricular activities, such as, for example, being involved in a community garden project counts as valuable experience, however you have to be able to present it as such and make it count.

The following job announcement perfectly illustrates our point. It attests to the fact your cover letter is a very important part of the application, and experience comes in many forms:
On 2012-05-26 MedLion, a medical practice located in Ryan Ranch, Monterey posted a Medical Assistant position. In the ad they describe their company as a rapidly growing, modern medical office with a friendly, sophisticated atmosphere and genuinely caring and compassionate staff. The office is seeking a friendly, polite, hard-working individual for their open medical assisting position. Their perfect candidate, so they say, will be well-spoken, quick to smile, and enjoy being efficient. Formal training is a must and experience is a plus. Those with highly polished customer service skills and excellent references will be best suited for the position, they say. 
The job announcement closes with: Interested candidates must submit a cover letter explaining why they want to be considered for a position at MedLion.
So, lets see, are you someone who is
  • polite
  • hard working
  • genuinely caring
  • friendly
  • compassionate
  • efficient
  • and have customer service skills?
If so, then you are at least half way there, especially if you take the time to write a matching cover letter that expresses your sincere interest.

What Doctors Expect and New Medical Assistants Don't Know

Valuable personal traits and attributes, and prior related job experience that's important for this position count, even if it was "as-little-as" a  previous waitress job, sales associate position, Burger King cashier, or your involvement in a community volunteer project, or workshops, where leadership, effective communication, friendly disposition, active engagement, hard work and team spirit was the pinnacle of your success. By the way, many new medical assistants don't realize it, but customer services and friendly disposition can make or break a medical practice, more so than most other skills, and doctors know this.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ready For the Job But Not Enough Experience?


You have achieved your goal and successfully completed your medical assistant training program; but now that you are going through the job search and application process, you realize that most medical assistant positions offered require at least 1-2 years of experiece. Now what? How can you land a job to gain experience if no one wants to hire you?

You Might Not Think So, But YES - You Have Experience!

Remember, as a medical assistant student you did spend a considerable amount of time in the clinical lab practicing important patient care skills under the supervision of your MA instructor. Lexi, a successful Certified Medical Assistant told us:
"Did you do an externship? If you did an externship, put every bit down on your resume, and applications. Make it look awesome, e.g. I live in a very rural area and traveled an hour and a half each way to school! I used this on my resume when I first got out to show how motivated I was to future employers."
 For example:
  • Basic concepts of EKG, ESR, hematocrit
  • Urinalysis, stool samples, throat cultures
  • Drawing up exact amounts of medications from vials
  • Injections: intradermal, subcutaneous, deltoid, and Z-track
  • Basic wound care
  • Vision screening, Snellen eye chart
  • Venipuncture/Phlebotomy
  • Collecting and organizing data for research and patient care
  • Data entry and safe keeping of records
Prior experience in the healthcare field, such as a nurse's assistant, or home health aide is very helpful and should not be forgotten either, as well as other work experience that will now be applied in a medical office.
Or, as a medical assistant without experience, but other related experience, you can write your cover letter along these lines:

Dear Ms. Jones: I am responding to your ad in The Sun Herald for the Medical Assistant Position. Attached is a copy of my resume that outlines my qualifications and career experience. I have successfully completed a 2 year degree in Medical Assisting (Associate of Applied Sciences), and completed my externship in a busy multi-physician practice. I also have 2 years prior experience as a hotel receptionist where I applied and solidified my customer service and interpersonal communication skills required for your position. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you to discuss my qualifications and how they could benefit your organization.

Determination Wins the Job

We recently came across a very creative way where a new medical assistant puts the word out that she is looking for work on Craigs List. This medical assistant school graduate showed that she is determined, confident, energized and eager to get to work. Her ad also showed, very discretely, that she is looking for work to gain experience and is willing to start low, at the front desk, or as a receptionist, which not every medical assistant is willing to do. Great move.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Medical Assistant Training Options: Diploma or Degree?


When it comes to vocational training and education, aspiring medical assistants have options. To achieve individual educational goals and career path choices, they must ultimately decide whether they want to enroll in a post-secondary vocational training program to earn a medical assisting diploma, or enter into a college program to earn a Medical Assistant Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, however, what is the difference?

Medical Assistant Diploma or Degree?

In a nutshell, a medical assistant diploma requires much less time from start to finish, costs less, and will lead to recognized credentials that enable the individual to enter the job market as a qualified medical assistant. The medical assisting AAS degree takes at least twice as long, approximately 2 years and unlike a diploma, the breadth of education and college credits earned can be used toward a higher college degree, or other salaried professional careers in the health care industry.

OCCC's Medical Assistant Degree Program as an Example

Let's use Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) and their medical assistant program as an example for many community colleges in other cities coast-to-coast. In this example, to earn their Medical Assistant AAS degree the student must earn a minimum of 65 credit hours.

Their major courses encompass essential medical assistant knowledge and skills, such as medical assistant applications, medical law and ethics, clinical and administrative medical office procedures, medical office laboratory procedures, pharmacology for medical assistants, as well as an externship, add up to 36 credits. The student must still pick up additional credit hours through other courses (minor) in general education, life skills, and support courses, such as medical terminology, human anatomy, and even English composition and math.

Anyone interested what the OCCC's medical assistant A..S. Degree entails can review their catalog online. It really (truly!) stands for most other similar medical assistant degree programs. Ultimately, every future medical assistant student has to decide on their own whether a diploma, or a degree is best for them, which in turn depends on their individual short and long term career goals, available time, and budget.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Continued Warnings About Bad Medical Assistant Schools and Diploma Mills


We have criticized, reported and warned about misleading advertisements and fake schools targeting potential medical assistant students seeking online courses on our website for years. Now, Donald Balasa of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) legal department is also raising awareness among prospective medical assistant students with a public note of caution.

Mr. Balasa points out that several AAMA members have informed him of misleading advertising fliers from St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants, a self-study online program. the following language is used in their advertising: "Medical Assistant Program Online. Medical Assistant Home Study Program. Nationally Accredited and Certified Program. 24/7 Convenient Online Classes. St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants now offers a Nationally Accredited and Certified Medical Assistant Program completely online. Yes, Complete This Program in as little as 6-8 weeks." You can read their article titled Misleading Advertisements on their Eye On The Law blog.

Similar warnings about such schools that may not deliver what you expect, including St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants have been on our own websites and medical assistant blogs since 2005. We also filed a rip off report against St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants on the Rip Off Report website for taking content from our Medical Assistant Net website without our permission and publishing it on their own site.
Mr. Balasa states that approximately three years ago the AAMA also reported St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and promises that they will continue to report medical assisting diploma mills to the appropriate governmental authorities.

St. Augustine School of Medical Assistants also has also received several negative ratings with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) from students who feel they were misled, or that they did not receive what they paid for. When it comes to vocational training, especially online, awareness is the key to successes! If an online post-secondary training program, non-traditional university, or so-called virtual college attended is not legit students may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Monday, May 07, 2012

What Is A Medical Assistant Allowed To Do?


Medical assistants are unlicensed employees in the healthcare system, and local and state laws require that a supervising physician, surgeon, or podiatrist must be present whenever clinical tasks, especially direct patient care procedures, are performed.

Employers, often doctors, who are willing to train their medical assistant directly on the job usually expect at least some prior related work experience in a professional office setting, but what if the medical assistant will be working on the clinical floors administering direct patient care as part of the daily routine?

We know that often there is confusion, because we receive many emails and forum post with questions about specific clinical duties. These questions almost always revolve  around whether a medical assistant is allowed to do a certain tasks, such as:
  1. phlebotomy
  2. X-rays
  3. Holter Monitor and ECG/EKG
  4. physical therapy
  5. start IV lines
  6. transcutaneous nerve stimulation
  7. hot and cold pack treatments
  8. nebulizer treatments
Despite of the continued absence of specific legislation and licensure requirement for medical assistants in many US states we caution each and everyone that authorized clinical procedures for medical assistants can change from state to state, and that there is NO universal answer.

There still are certain laws that regulate the medical assistant's duties, and spell out what a medical assistant can and cannot do, especially in a clinical setting, for example, some US states mandate limited licenses, or recognized certifications in certain medical technical procedures, such as phlebotomy, IV therapy, and exposing patients to x-rays, or certain therapeutic modalities.

This in turn, also strongly influences what should, and can be taught. If you are planning to pursue a medical assistant career, or are in charge of training a new medical assistant, but are unsure whether there are certain limits, or restrictions, the best source of information regarding the medical assistant's scope of practice is your state's Medical Board/Board of Medical Examiners, State Nursing Board, Department of Health, and professional membership organizations for medical assistants, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), or American Medical Technologists (AMT) legal department.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Searching the Internet for "Medical Assistant" - Is Google Search Still Relevant?


When I enter the search term medical assistant into any search engine query box, I essentially mean "what is a medical assistant", not medical assistant jobs, medical assistant training, or one page that gives me a general blah-blah-blah rewritten from the authority sites to get users to click on their over-optimized ads.

At this moment, the 1st page results for "medical assistant" is not good and I am sad to see Google has strongly affected the rankings of, which used to be the top ranking, most active site for aspiring and seasoned medical assistants on the Web. We don't sell anything...we only provide pertinent, expert written information users seek and use.

Over the years we, here at, the leading website for medical assistants have received many UNSOLICITED emails from happy users, who spontaneously send us comments of appreciation, such as this one from 05.01.2012:

"I just wanted to tell you I found your site. Medical Assistant NET provides clear information that I find helpful."

Christi S....., RN
Nursing Department Manager
Gr.... Pa.... Clinic, LLP
495 SW Ramsey Ave.
Grants Pass, OR 97527

Users who type medical assistant are usually looking for a definition. After the so called Panda and the latest Penguin algorithm changes at Google, their search results are a real mess, and I mean truly. For example, when I search for a simple query, such as "medical assistant", I do not mean medical assistant job, medical assistant school, medical assistant training, or a one page blah-blah page to rank the site. Unfortunately, looking at Google, many authority sites that define the search term and offer original informational content for the said key word are virtually gone, even the Bureau of Labor (BLS) page for “medical assistant”, and that is sad.

I have already changed my default search engine to BING as its results are much better. I also like DuckDuckGo. Google’s layout is way too messy for me – cluttered up by dozens of ads top and right, shopping results, images, then predictably all the big name stores, plus eBay and Wiki… Come to think of it, it’s not just the layout, the results are a mess and do not feature sites that deliver usable content for the user.