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4 Top Requirements Employers Have for Today’s Medical Assistants

The goal of every student that enters a Medical Assisting program is to be employed at the end of their program. They want a rewarding and meaningful healthcare career, but are they prepared for the transition from a student to a professional? Do your graduates meet the requirements that today’s employers are looking for?

The industry experts at Gray Associates analyzed the trends and identified 4 key requirements of employers for today’s Medical Assisting graduates. Here’s what they found:

Employer Requirement #1: Skills

    Job postings for Medical Assistants frequently mention Electronic Medical Records (EMR) skills.
  • The Affordable Care Act requirements for “reasonable use” of electronic records are consistent with required Medical Assistant skills.
    • EMR was the most important single skill; it was mentioned in 16% of Medical Assisting postings.
    • 23% of postings mentioned some form of informatics (i.e., EMR, ICD9/10, Medical Information, and Billing Software).
    • “Electronic health records have changed and caused a big shift in what MAs need to survive in health care.”
  • Other specific skills, such as EKG and billing software, were cited in 10% or fewer of the MA job postings.

Employer Requirement #2: Professionalism

    Employers are looking for Medical Assistants with a high level of professionalism. Here are a few quotes that Gray Associates heard in their research:
  • “Employers want individuals with a high level of professionalism.”
  • “The single most significant attribute a Medical Assistant can have is good interpersonal skills. You could teach anyone to do health care stuff but you can’t teach a good bedside manner. That’s the vein physicians are looking for when they hire.”
  • “Medical Assistants must have the ability to communicate on a professional level and have an understanding of medical technology.”
  • “Quite a few Medical Assistants are rough around the edges in terms of interpersonal skills. It’s people in a service profession who don’t want to serve.”
  • “Medical Assistants must be able to think on their feet. For example, a good Medical Assistant will know to double-book a patient who tends to cancel appointments at the last minute.”
  • “MAs spend the most amount of time with the patient, making the first impression, and therefore must be extremely professional.”

Employer Requirement #3: Certifications

    It is now common for employers to require a national certification for MAs.
  • Approximately 35% of job postings now request a certification, typically Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA).
  • As of 2012, only 15% of MAs held either the CMA or RMA credential.

Employer Requirement #4: Flexibility

    Employers expect medical assistants to do both administrative and clinical tasks, and as such, today’s medical assistants need the flexibility to move between the clinical and the administrative areas. Here are some quotes that Gray Associates heard from employers about that flexibility:
  • “Most opportunity for flexibility lies with the Medical Assistants. Medical Assisting has been evolving and there’s much more opportunity to use MAs as renaissance people.”
  • “I don’t know of a doctor hiring Medical Assistants exclusively for administrative skills.”
  • “The clinical attributes are important, but being able to enter info into the Electronic Medical Record is vital.”
  • “Physicians can hire Medical Assistants to prevent drops in productivity due to electronic medical records.”
  • “MAs are cheaper, and educational programs should train them to do more complex procedures.”
  • “Now there are high acuity outpatient areas, MAs need a sub-acute skillset. They are dealing with complicated situations and must know how to do acute clinical work in a homecare setting.”

Is your Medical Assisting curriculum preparing your students for employment when they complete your program? For more information about how Elsevier can help, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the Medical Assisting market from Gray Associates or to purchase their full, detailed report on the Medical Assisting Education Market, click here.