Introduction to Medical Assisting and Similar Careers

Nurse assisting, medical information management, physician assisting, and health service administration are all job fields that can be described as “medical support.” Most people with these jobs don’t treat patients directly, though they may regularly interact with patients, but they do manage other parts of the health system that make it possible for doctors and nurses to do their jobs more easily.

What Is A Certified Nursing Assistant?

If you want to enter the healthcare field as a certified nursing assistant, you’ll need the proper training. Many programs will require time in a healthcare facility to obtain hands-on training before the nursing assistant is deemed qualified to take the certification examination. Online programs will also require hands-on study at a healthcare facility near you.

In addition to a high school diploma or GED, you’ll need to complete a six- to twelve-week CNA training program. Once you have met the instruction hours training requirements and have graduated from your nursing assistant program, you usually will have a period of 120 days to take the final exam. This exam will include sections for both clinical and written examples of problem-handling skills. Once you pass the exam, you will receive your nursing assistant certification.

What Credentials Are Needed To Work As A CNA?

Getting a degree or certification can give you a huge boost in the job market, and there are quite a few online options for getting started as a medical assistant, CNA, or even an RN. Earning a degree and your certification will improve your chances of getting a job and

  • CNA Certificate: Getting certified as a nursing assistant can take three to six months, depending on how long you wait between finishing training and taking the competency exam.
  • Associate’s Degree: An associate’s degree often takes about 18 months to complete and can be taken online, depending on the program.

What Are Some Related Occupations To A CNA?

The medical field is diverse, as are the careers it offers. Below are a few of the many options available to those interested in working as a nursing assistant and beyond:

Medical Information Technicians and Managers

Managing patient information, billing records, treatment histories, prescriptions, and the host of other data that are generated by medical facilities requires sophisticated computer systems and people who know how to use them. There are whole associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees dedicated to teaching people how to securely manage sensitive and private medical data.

Medical information techs usually have an associate’s degree. Becoming a health information tech requires knowledge in database security, healthcare information standards, medical terminology, and clinical classification and coding systems.

Medical Assistants

Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities and help to complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. They also perform the following duties:

  • Clean and sterilize instruments and medical equipment, and tidy examination rooms.
  • Give medications to patients on the instructions of a doctor.
  • Collect laboratory specimens (blood, tissue, etc.)
  • Measure height, weight, and vital signs of patients before they see the doctor.

The median annual wage for medical assistants was $32,480 in May 2017. Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Registered Nurses

The gap between being a certified nursing assistant and being a registered nurse is actually quite large, but for a dedicated CNA who wants to stay in the medical world but earn more and take on more responsibility, becoming an RN can be a great career move. In order to work as an RN, you’ll need to earn a degree in nursing and pass the certification exam. Each state has its own certification requirements so make sure you research those requirements.

Below are a few encouraging data points from The Bureau of Labor Statistics about RNs include:

  • Job Growth by 2018: Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Salary: The median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017.

With great salaries and job prospects in the near future, future RNs have it good right now, but becoming a CNA or other medical support staffer doesn’t have to be the last stop on your career track. Working in a medical facility in any role can give you a taste for the industry and give you experience that will look good on your applications if you decide to go back to school.

The cost and time commitment of education can make it seem like more than it is worth, but the increase in job availability and salaries for people with degrees make the expenditure of resources well worth it in the long run.

If you’re ready to start pursuing a credential that will let you become a CNA or get another medical support job you desire, click some of the linked programs below to find an online college that can meet your needs without ruining your schedule or breaking the bank.

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