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Types of Healthcare Specialties

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As a medical assistant, you are the doctor’s right hand, recording vital signs, prepping treatment rooms, or administering medication as directed by a physician. 

Medical Assistants are the pulse of the medical office, they keep it running smoothly while assisting with patient care. If you are thinking about pursuing a career as a medical assistant, here are some aspects to consider.

median annual salaries allied health careers

The Healthcare Industry

Employment within the healthcare field is anticipated to grow in the coming years driven by technological advances in patient care and by an increase in preventive care.[i] Additionally, medical assisting may be the perfect fit as a larger number of older people need medical attention.

Medical Assisting Job Settings

As a medical assistant, you could work within a variety of healthcare settings. In a hospital, medical assistants may perform the same functions of a nursing assistant. In larger practices, you could perform more general duties like answering phones and instructing patients about their diets. You may decide to specialize in a certain medical field like ophthalmology or optometry and provide eye care.

Medical Assisting Training

Most medical assisting schools include hands on experience during the course of their programs. While the training time may vary from institution to institution and state to state, schools may offer fast track diploma or degree paths so be sure to compare potential completion times when looking at programs.

Medical Assisting Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care related occupations are supposed to increase 15.6 million or 10.8 percent during 2012 and 2022.[xvi] Employment for Medical Assistants is expected to grow 29 percent during the same time period which is much faster than the average of all occupations.[xvii] The aging baby boomer population may contribute to the demand for preventive medical services as well as federal health care legislation that will expand access to health insurance for many patients.[xviii] Because of this, more health care facilities, clinics, and group practices, may need support workers like Medical Assistants to help out with clinical and administrative work. 

Furthermore, the BLS states that, of the 30 occupations projected to have the largest percentage increase between 2012 and 2022, 14 are healthcare related.ⁱ [xviiii]This is great news for Medical Assistants who are enrolled in a medical assisting educational program or who are pursuing careers in their field! 

Career Options

Choosing medical assisting could give you a variety of options when selecting a career. The following are career options you may pursue within the medical assisting industry:

Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)[ii]

Certified Nurse Assistants, also known as nursing aides, give basic care and help with daily living activities. They help patients eat, transfer patients between beds and wheelchairs, and assist patients in dressing, among other things. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: Pennsylvania, New York, and Florida.[iii]

  • Median Annual Salary: $24,400[ii]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 21%[ii]

Medical Records Technicians[iv]

Any time patients visit the doctor, their medical records must be managed and organized. Medical Records Technicians use classification systems to categorize and code patient information. They may be called Medical Billers or Coders if they review patient information and work as liaisons between billing and doctors’ offices. Medical Transcriptionists are a type of Medical Records Technician that listen to physician voice recordings and convert them into written reports. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: Texas, California, and Florida.[v]

  • Median Annual Salary: $34,160[iv]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 22%[iv]

Dental Assistants[vi]

From taking x rays to recordkeeping, Dental Assistants are responsible for multiple tasks that range from patient care to administrative duties. They assist dentists with procedures and perform the following four tasks: polishing, sealant application, fluoride application, and topical anesthetics application. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: California, Texas, and New York.[vii]

  • Median Annual Salary: $34,500[vi]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 25%[vi]

Physician Assistants[vii]

Also known as PAs, Physician Assistants help doctors by practicing medicine on a team while physicians oversee them. They are able to provide patient examinations, give medical treatments, and diagnose illnesses as well as injuries. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: New York, California, and Texas.[ix]

  • Median Annual Salary: $90,930[viii]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 38%[viii]

Pharmacy Technicians[x]

Pharmacy Technicians work in hospitals and retail pharmacies and assist licensed pharmacists in dispensing medication. They answer phones, package prescriptions, and process insurance claims. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: California, Texas, and Florida.[xi]

  • Median Annual Salary: $29,320[x]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 20%[x]

Surgical Technicians[xii]

Surgical Technicians work as part of a healthcare team to assist during surgeries. They help by prepping operating rooms, counting instruments before surgery, passing sterile supplies to doctors during surgery, and preparing patients for surgery. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: California, Texas, and Florida.[xiii]

  • Median Annual Salary: $41,790[xii]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 30%[xii]

Radiologic Technologist[xiv]

Radiologic Technologists operate diagnostic imaging equipment to perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x rays. They follow doctors’ orders regarding what areas of the bodies to image and maintain detailed patient records. States with the highest employment levels in this occupation are: California, Texas, and New York.[xv]

  • Median Annual Salary: $55,910[xiv]
  • Job Projection Growth by 2022: 21%[xiv]

[i] bls.gov/spotlight/2009/health_care/ | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm | [iii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-1 | [v] bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm | [vii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes319091.htm | [viii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm | [ix] bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm | [x] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm | [xi] bls.gov/oes/current/oes292052.htm [xii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/surgical-technologists.htm | [xiii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes292055.htm | [xiv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm  | [xv] bls.gov/oes/current/oes292034.htm [xvi] bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.nr0.htm |  [xvii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-6 | [xviii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-1 | [xviiiii] bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm#tab-1