Working in healthcare can be a rewarding career, which is one reason so many people choose to pursue jobs in the medical field.
Healthcare jobs can also be challenging emotionally, physically, and mentally. No job is perfect, and weighing risk vs reward is part of making good choices about your career path.
Medical assisting has it’s own set of pros and cons, and objectively analyzing the job entails will help you make the decision whether this is the right career for you. Let’s examine the challenges of medical assisting and determine whether being a medical assistant is difficult or not.
General Perception of Healthcare Work vs Medial Assisting
Naturally, you are curious if being a medical assistant is “hard”, and part of that trepidation may be based on the general perception of healthcare work. We’ve all heard stories of nurses working mandatory 12-hour shifts in hospitals, or lower-seniority doctors in certain medical centers working long hours.
What differentiates medical assistants from nurses or doctors working in hospitals is most MA’s work for physicians in private practice offices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 58% of all medical assistants work in physician’s offices, with only 15% working in hospitals. 9% of medical assistants work in outpatient care, with 4% working in chiropractic offices to round out the top four.
Because about 6 out of every 10 medical assistants work in private practice offices, this usually means they follow a regular 40-hour a week schedule. This means medical assistants are more likely to have a healthy work-life balance than their nursing counterparts.
What Are the Main Challenges of Being a Medical Assistant?
As stated previously, every job has upsides and detriments. The following are the main challenges that medical assistants face in their work.
Restricted Scope of Working
Medical assistants cannot give medical advice, or make medical decisions. They work under the instruction of a physician, or a head nurse who is imparting instructions from a physician. For people who are used to making autonomous decisions, this may feel restrictive. Medical assistants perform a variety or clinical and administrative tasks, including preparing patients for medical appointments, taking vitals, scheduling follow-up visits, and keeping medical records. To have more autonomy, and different responsibilities, medical assistants must complete nursing training.
Scheduling and Hours
58% of medical assistants work in physician’s offices, which typically follow a 9am to 5pm format. Some medical assistants work in outpatient care or clinics. The estimated 15% of medical assistants that work in hospitals and medical centers may be subject to longer hours and mandatory shifts. These schedules would be on a case by case basis, so research each position before applying.
A medical office sees many patients every day, and not every patient will be calm and patient. Patients may be under stress, and can experience negative emotions, which they may take out on medical staff. When dealing with negative patients, keep a calm demeanor and maintain professionalism. If you are prone to react strongly to people’s frustration and anger, practice detachment from the situation. Patients who are undergoing medical diagnosis and treatment may be undergoing stresses that you have no knowledge of, and they may take out those frustrations on you, the medical assistant. Just remember, that not every patient is rude or obnoxious. Most patients maintain a veneer of courtesy and amicability.
Intense Environment and Busy Days
Some days will be busier than others, and the stress may be higher on these days than others. Whether there are a large number of patients, or some of the medical office staff are out sick, or you encounter a overly rude patient, you will need to manage that stress as a medical professional. Getting adequate sleep, eating properly, and mindfulness are all ways to mitigate workplace stress. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it in your daily work.
Emotional Situations and Working with People
Medical assistants are human, and they can develop bonds of familiarity with regular patients. As time goes on, you may encounter patients that have a terminal condition or disease. You may hear that a regular patient has passed away at some point. As much as you try and distance yourself from emotions, these situations can be upsetting. We all have a degree of empathy and thoughtfulness, and though it is not a common situation, eventually you may hear a patient has passed away. Medical professionals must deal with these situations in a professional manner and maintain their composure during the workday. Once the workday is over, you can talk about it with friends or loved ones and decompress.
Is It Difficult to Become a Medical Assistant?
You can become a certified medical assistant in about 36 weeks with the Medical Assisting program from Campus, formerly known as MTI College. This program is a hybrid learning program, with most of the coursework completed online, ad minimal required in-person days at our Sacramento school campus.
While becoming a certified nurse may require programs that take two to four years to complete, becoming a medical assistant is relatively quick, compared to other jobs in the medical field.
As a medical assisting student, you will learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. Each student in the Medical Assisting program is required to finish a 200‐hour unpaid off‐campus Medical Assisting Externship along with your standard course requirements to graduate. To become certified as a Medical Assistant, the classroom work can be completed and this is followed by a 4-week externship. This means you can become certified as a Medical Assistant in as little as 36 weeks.
Get Medical Assistant Training at Campus
The Medical Assistant Program at Campus, formerly known as MTI College, prepares students to perform a wide array of duties in the medical field. At the conclusion of training, students will earn a NCMA certification as a medical assistant. This program is a hybrid program, offered in our OnlinePlus format, with most of the coursework completed online, with required clinical studies held in person at our location in Sacramento. Our medical assisting students learn medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology. Each student in the Medical Assisting program is required to finish a 160‐hour unpaid off‐campus Medical Assisting Externship along with standard course requirements to graduate. To become certified as a Medical Assistant, the classroom work can be completed in as few as 32weeks, followed by a 4-week externship. This means you can become certified as a Medical Assistant in as little as 36 weeks.
If you would like more information on the Medical Assisting program at Campus, fill out the form on this page, or contact our friendly Admissions team today!