JobsNow: Medical assistants help patients, doctors in the office

The medical assistant program can be completed in under two years at Youngstown State, Kent State and some of the local community colleges

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – If you have a passion for helping people, getting into the medical field doesn’t have to take eight years of school, difficult classes and tons of student debt. Medical assistants (MAs) are able to work with physicians and patients with under two years of training.

They need skills to help in front-office and back-office duties so doctors can spend more time seeing patients.

“It’s administrative, clinical skills. You do procedures, you do stuff in a doctor’s office under a physician’s care,” said Carol Lyons, a registered medical assistant.

At ValleyCare, MAs are on a rotation between administrative and clinical work. That can include patient care, calling for pre-certifications, answering phones and even doing lab work, like Julie Antonucci does.

“It can lead to a lot of different areas, which was really nice about it. Sometimes you can pick and choose, it all depends on the doctor’s office,” she said.

Four years of schooling to become a registered nurse (RN) can be difficult to afford and endure. The medical assistant program can be completed in under two years at Youngstown State, Kent State and some of the local community colleges.

Because MAs create orders in electronic medical records, the government requires them to pass a test.

“Make sure that you enroll in an accredited program, which is very important,” said Sue Higham with ValleyCare Health System. “As meaningful use through the government continues to grow, all the physician practices and healthcare facilities, I say, will begin to mandate that they only hire certified medical assistants.”

Medical assistants get paid less than RNs, since the level of responsibility is less. However, the expectation of helping the doctor and patients is exactly the same.

“I look at their personality. They have to be able to talk to people, they have to have some compassion, they have to be able to multitask,” Lyons said.

There’s little difference between a registered medical assistant and a certified medical assistant. The differences are in the certifying organization and exam.

For more information about medical assistants and to view job openings, visit the Ohio Means Jobs website.

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