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Career and Education Opportunities for Medical Assistants in Birmingham, Alabama

If you want to be a medical assistant, the Birmingham, Alabama area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 5,230 working medical assistants in Alabama; this should grow by 48% to about 7,750 working medical assistants in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for medical assistants are expected to grow by about 33.9%. In general, medical assistants perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of physician.

A person working as a medical assistant can expect to earn about $11 hourly or $23,560 annually on average in Alabama and about $13 per hour or $28,300 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for medical assistants are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Medical and Dental Assistance in Alabama and not quite as good as general Medical and Dental Assistance category earnings nationally. Medical assistants work in a variety of jobs, including: hospital clinic assistant, ophthalmic technician, and optometrist assistant.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Birmingham where you can study to be a medical assistant, among fifteen schools of higher education total in the Birmingham area. Medical assistants usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so it will take only a short time to learn to be a medical assistant if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, medical assistants perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of physician. They also administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding for insurance purposes.

Medical assistants ready treatment rooms for patient examinations, keeping the rooms neat and clean. They also interview clients to obtain medical data and measure their vital signs and height. Equally important, medical assistants have to show clients to examination rooms and ready them for the physician. They are often called upon to help physicians examine and treat patients, handing them instruments and materials or performing such tasks as giving injections or removing sutures. They are expected to record patients' medical history, vital statistics and data such as test results in medical archives. Finally, medical assistants greet and log in patients arriving at office or clinic.

Every day, medical assistants are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for medical assistants to inventory and order medical, lab, or office supplies and apparatus. They are often called upon to change dressings on wounds. They also contact medical facilities or departments to schedule patients for tests or admission. They are sometimes expected to run routine laboratory tests and sample analyses. Somewhat less frequently, medical assistants are also expected to greet and log in patients arriving at office or clinic.

Medical assistants sometimes are asked to keep financial reports and execute other bookkeeping duties. They also have to be able to execute general office duties such as answering telephones, taking dictation or completing insurance forms and clean and sterilize instruments and dispose of contaminated supplies. And finally, they sometimes have to authorize drug refills and furnish prescription data to pharmacies.

Like many other jobs, medical assistants must be thorough and dependable and be able to deal with stress and deal with situations calmly.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Birmingham include:

  • Certified Nursing Aide. Provide basic patient care under direction of nursing staff. Perform duties, such as feed, bathe, or move patients, or change linens.
  • Dental Assistant. Assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.
  • Medical Equipment Technician. Prepare, sterilize, or clean laboratory or healthcare equipment. May perform routine laboratory tasks and operate or inspect equipment.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Medical Assistant Training

Virginia College-Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

Virginia College-Birmingham, 65 Bagby Dr., Birmingham, AL 35209-3703. Virginia College-Birmingham is a medium sized college located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 6,090 students and an admission rate of 64%. Virginia College-Birmingham has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Medical Office Assistant/Specialist which graduated thirty-six and eight students respectively in 2008.

Herzing College - Birmingham, AL

Herzing College, 280 West Valley Ave, Birmingham, AL 35209. Herzing College is a small college located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 314 students and an admission rate of 82%. Herzing College has 2 areas of study related to Medical Assistant. They are:

  • Medical Insurance Coding Specialist/Coder, associate's degree which graduated 1 student in 2008.
  • Medical/Clinical Assistant, one to two year and associate's degree which graduated seventeen and three students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Medical Assistant: The CMA (AAMA) is considered the gold standard of medical assisting professionalism.

For more information, see the American Association of Medical Assistants website.

Registered Health Information Technician: With experience, the RHIT credential holds solid potential for advancement to management positions, especially when combined with a bachelor's degree.

For more information, see the American Health Information Management Association website.

Certified Coding Associate: American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recognizes that the demand for coders has never been greater, and this need is expected to continue for some years to come.

For more information, see the American Health Information Management Association website.

Medical Assistant: A Medical Assistant (MA) is an integral member of the health care delivery team, qualified by education and experience to work in the administrative office, the examining room and the physician office laboratory.

For more information, see the American Medical Technologists website.

Medical LabTechnician: All laboratory professionals, including Medical Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians and Medical Laboratory Assistants have long played a vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease.

For more information, see the American Medical Technologists website.

Donor Phlebotomy Technician: This certification is for current Phlebotomy Technicians who take blood from patients for testing or for a blood bank, prepare samples for testing, and carry out those tests.

For more information, see the American Society for Clinical Pathology website.

Corporate Certified Opthalmic Assistant: A certification for employees of companies that supply products and services to the.

For more information, see the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology website.

Certified Provider Credentialing Specialist: The Certified Provider Credentialing Specialist (CPCS) is typically employed or contracted by a health care organization including, but not limited to, health plans, group practices, credentialing verification organizations or hospitals (health systems).

For more information, see the National Association of Medical Services Staff website.

Certified Medical Coder: Experienced medical office professionals with exceptional coding skills are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Coder (CMC) exam.

For more information, see the Practice Management Institute website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama photo by Eric_in_SF

Birmingham is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. It has a population of over 228,798, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Birmingham, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Birmingham cost $187,300 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, one hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Birmingham, down from two hundred thirty-two the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Birmingham are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 24 minutes. More than 18.5% of Birmingham residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Birmingham is 12.5%, which is greater than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Birmingham residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Williams Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Westminister Presbyterian Church and West End Methodist Church are all churches located in Birmingham. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Birmingham is home to the Mineral Park Municipal Golf Course and the Cooper Green Golf Course as well as Avondale Mills Park and Smithfield Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Acipco Shopping Center, Altadena Square Shopping Center and Parkway East Huffman Shopping Center. Visitors to Birmingham can choose from Marriott Hotel Birmingham, Rime Garden Extended Stay Suites and Studioplus for temporary stays in the area.