You won’t find any other state that’s making more impressive strides than Georgia when it comes to building out the ranks of highly skilled medical assistants. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the field will grow by 7.9% during the two-year period from 2019 to 2021 alone.
This explosion of medical assistant hiring is really no surprise, given the meteoric growth of the state’s healthcare sector in recent years. Thanks to massive players like Children Healthcare of Atlanta, which has plans to build a new campus worth $1.3 billion, healthcare in Georgia continues to make national waves.
Medical Assistants in Georgia do anywhere from 30% to 35% of all CMA work at a doctor’s office or clinic. However, that doesn’t mean that’s your only option. According to the BLS, some of the most common employers for medical assistants in Georgia are:
- Skilled nursing facilities (25%)
- Offices of physicians (20%)
- Outpatient care centres (10%)
With about 4,200 annual openings in this profession due to general turnover, retirements, and new job growth, there’s little doubt you’ll find outstanding opportunities to make your mark here once you’ve got the education and training it takes to become a highly qualified candidate.
Complete the following steps to become a medical assistant in Georgia:
|Complete a Medical Assistant Program|
|Consider National Certification|
|Start Your Career as a Medical Assistant by Finding a Job You’ll Love|
The Georgia legislature and the Georgia Composite Medical Board, through the 2009 Medical Practice Act, identified the role of medical assistants by the tasks they can perform:
- Administering subcutaneous and intramuscular injections
- Taking vital signs
- Administering nebulizer treatments
- Removing sutures and changing dressings
- Other tasks, provided they are under the supervision of a physician or advanced practice registered nurse
The language also makes it clear that physicians may only allow medical assistants to provide services for which they have been properly trained. Because of this, you’ll find that many employers require or prefer candidates who’ve earned a formal education in medical assisting along with national certification.
To become nationally certified, you’ll need to pass the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam offered by National Healthcareer Association (NHA). To be eligible, you should have graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES program and meet one of these other requirements:
- Have at least 1,600 hours of clinical training in a medical office or other health care facility under the supervision of an instructor who is a registered nurse, physician assistant, or physician
- Have at least 1,000 hours of clinical training in a medical office or other health care facility under the supervision of an instructor who is a registered nurse, physician assistant, or physician
- Graduate from a medical assistant program in another country that is accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education
Step 1. Complete a Medical Assistant Program
You can complete a formal course of education and training in medical assisting through a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program. While diploma and certificate programs take about 10-12 months to complete, an associate’s degree program consists of 2 years of study because it encompasses a general education core in addition to medical assistant specialty courses.
Choosing an associate’s degree program over a diploma or certificate program may benefit you in a number of ways. The associate’s degree is often a favorite among employers, so earning one can result in better/more professional opportunities and higher wages for you.
And if you have thoughts of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medical administration, allied health, or a similar field at some point, an Associate of Science (AS) degree will easily transfer, thereby allowing you to earn your bachelor’s degree later on in half the time. Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are also widely available, the only difference being that they are strictly designed to provide a very focused and practical course of training for career preparation so they don’t typically work as transfer degrees if you’re considering a bachelor’s later on.
Whichever type of medical assisting program you choose, it’s worth considering one that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Completing an accredited program will make it that much easier to qualify for national certification since these programs have already been verified as providing the education and training you’ll need to serve as a competent, entry-level medical assistant.
In addition to online programs, Georgia is currently home to 22 CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting programs and 4 ABHES-accredited medical assisting programs.
An accredited program in medical assisting prepares students to:
- Perform clinical procedures related to a patient examination
- Prepare specimens for analysis
- Perform administrative and clerical functions, including record keeping, insurance billing, and medical coding
- Interact with patients and communicate effectively
- Understand policies, laws, and patient rights
Therefore, typical coursework often includes:
- Medical terminology
- Administrative office management
- Medical finance management
- Human biology
- Medical transcription
- Laboratory procedures
- Human growth and development
Step 2. Consider National Certification
National certification, while voluntary, is a popular pursuit among medical assistants and is a great way to get that competitive edge when it comes time to find a job with a leading employer. The two most popular certifications in the field are:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants
- The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential, through American Medical Technologists
You’ll need to qualify through education and/or experience and pass a national certification examination to earn either the CMA or RMA.
Other general and specialty credentials in this profession include:
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified (PMAC)
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA)
- National Center for Competency Testing: The National Certified Medical Assistant
- National Healthcare Association: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
Step 3. Start Your Career as a Medical Assistant by Finding a Job You’ll Love
Once you’ve got the credentials that’ll make you a good candidate for an entry-level medical assisting job, you’re sure to find lots of great opportunities through Georgia’s major healthcare systems, such as:
- Emory Clinic, Atlanta
- Southeast Permanente Medical Group, Atlanta
- WellStar Medical Group, Marietta
- Piedmont Physicians Group, Atlanta
- Emory Children’s Center Inc., Atlanta
- Emory University Hospital, Atlanta
- Medical Center of Central Georgia, Macon
- Shepherd Center, Atlanta
- University Hospital, Augusta
- Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta
- Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur
- DeKalb Medical, Brookhaven
2019 job growth projections from the Georgia Department of Labor are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and employment data accessed July 2020.