Have you always wanted to work in a medical setting, but don’t want to attend school for years? Then a job as a medical assistant might be a good career for you. Medical assistants work in a variety of roles in medical offices and clinical settings supporting the licensed staff with technical tasks.
Since medical assistants are unlicensed, they perform non-invasive support services under the direction of a licensed surgeon, physician, podiatrist or nurse. Some of the tasks they perform include scheduling appointments in the front office and measuring vital signs with a patient.
Whether you have always wanted to work in the medical field or you’re realizing a new passion for medicine, continue reading to learn more about what a medical assistant does, how to become one, how to choose a Clinical Medical Assisting program and California’s state-specific requirements for certification.
Certified vs Uncertified Medical Assistants in California
Medical assistants in California must meet specific requirements, according to the licensing and regulations set in place by the Medical Practice Act and enforced by the Medical Board of California. The requirements state that medical assistants must gain experience in one of two ways:1
- Per Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations section 1366.3(a)(1), training under a licensed physician or podiatrist, who shall ascertain the proficiency of the medical assistant; or under a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, physician assistant, or a qualified medical assistant acting under the direction of a licensed physician or podiatrist who shall be responsible for determining the content of the training and proficiency of the medical assistant except that training to administer medication by inhalation shall be provided by a licensed physician or respiratory care practitioner; or
- Per Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations section 1366.3 (a)(2), in a secondary, postsecondary, or adult education program in a public school authorized by the Department of Education, in a community college program provided for in Part 48 of Division 7 of the Education Code, or a postsecondary institution accredited by an accreditation agency recognized by the United States Department of Education or approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education under Sections 94130 or 94311 of the Education Code. A licensed physician or podiatrist shall serve as advisor to the medical assistant training program. The instructor in a public school setting shall possess a valid teaching credential issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The instructor in a private postsecondary institution shall meet the requirements of Sections 94310 and 94311 of the Education Code and any regulations adopted pursuant to those sections.
While California does not require medical assistants to be certified, there are upsides to doing so.
Just think of all the job opportunities where uncertified medical assistants are competing with certified medical assistants and consider the employer’s perspective. Who would you rather hire? An assistant who has graduated from an accredited college or university, or a medical assistant who will require on-the-job supervised training for an entry-level job? Most employers prefer to hire the most knowledgeable and competent staff so earning your certification may be the competitive edge you need to land the job you want.
Why Become a Medical Assistant in California?
Medical assistants in California serve an important role in the health care system, aiding licensed physicians and other medical staff in healing the public. The typical career trajectory for a medical assistant starts with entry-level employment under the direct supervision of senior staff. As they learn the fundamentals of health care they are introduced to the various niches they can choose to grow in.
One of the best reasons to become a medical assistant is the expected job growth over the next decade.2 The reason for the expected increase in positions is due to the growing demand for preventive care among the baby-boom population. As a result, there will be an increased need for medical assistants to help physicians provide the medical care their patients need.