Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a career as a medical assistant was a vital and rewarding path for job seekers to pursue. Now, for those working in the healthcare field, that is more true than ever before. The industry faces a growing demand for care from patients and a shortage of skilled workers to meet that need. Medical assistants have emerged as the go-to professionals to fill key gaps in a variety of settings.
While the opportunity for career growth is great, medical assistants need to keep up with changes in the healthcare industry to unlock new opportunities. Here are the top trends for medical assistants that you need to know.
To begin, this is a unique moment of opportunity for medical assisting professionals. For years, the healthcare industry has been tracking a double dose of effects of an aging U.S. population. Millions of Americans are reaching an age where ongoing medical care will be needed. At the same time, a large portion of long term healthcare professionals are reaching retirement age. This is creating a supply and demand imbalance. There is a growing surge in demand for patient care coming, but a shrinking workforce of skilled professionals available to meet the need.
That’s where medical assistants come in. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of medical assistants will grow 16 percent from now until 2031, which is much faster than the rate expected for all other occupations. With a growing need comes growing opportunities. While new professionals will be needed in the field, experienced medical assistants will have an advantage in determining their career paths, with the ability to increase their earning power along the way.
Increased Career Flexibility
As demand for medical assistants rise, so will the opportunities for career flexibility. Medical assistants are now needed in a wide range of workplace settings. From hospitals to private practices and outpatient care facilities, nearly every setting where care is provided is in need of individuals ready to help with a medical assisting background. This is due to the unique blend of skills medical assistants bring to the table; these healthcare professionals come ready to work with a valuable combination of clinical and administrative abilities.
What does this mean for medical assistants? You now have the opportunity to gain experience in any number of healthcare settings before finding the right fit for your career. Temporary or contract work can empower you to try out a role on a short-term basis, while giving you the flexibility to move onto another opportunity in the future.
Certifications are Essential
Finally, medical assistants must pay attention to the certifications recommended for a given role. While not always required, these certifications can give medical assistants a leg up in the hiring process. Earning one or more certifications can help to confirm your qualifications, setting you apart from other candidates. Some standard certifications include:
- The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
- The National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
- The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
In addition to these primary certifications, medical assisting professionals can also pursue other certifications in areas of specialization, such as those offered in the areas of podiatry and ophthalmology. Earning these can open new opportunities in settings that prefer ongoing education in a particular area of focus.
You Career, Trending Upwards
While the healthcare industry may be changing rapidly, one trend is clear: medical assistants are needed everywhere. By keeping up with the trends affecting these roles, job seekers can set themselves apart from other professionals in the field.