If you want to work as a medical assistant in Georgia, you may consider completing the following steps:
|Complete a Medical Assistant Program<|
|Consider National Certification|
|Seek Employment as a Medical Assistant|
The Georgia Department of Labor reported that there were 17,520 medical assistants employed in the State in 2012. By 2022, the Department of Labor projects this number will surge to 26,270, an increase of nearly 50 percent. This medical support profession in Georgia has grown at an impressive annual rate of 4.1 percent in recent years, with total annual openings averaging 1,120.
Although medical assistants in Georgia are not certified or licensed to practice, the Georgia legislature and the Georgia Composite Medical Board developed clear language in the 2009 Medical Practice Act for the role of the medical assistant. In particular, the new provision clearly identifies that medical assistants in Georgia may perform a number of medical tasks, including:
- 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 provision also makes it clear that physicians may only allow medical assistants to provide services for which they have been properly trained. As such, physicians and employers likely seek medical assistants who have achieved a specific degree of education, training, and certification.
Step 1. Complete a Medical Assistant Program
There are no laws governing that medical assistants in Georgia must possess a specific level of training. However, employers are more likely to hire medical assistants who have received training through an accredited medical assistant degree program.
Medical assistant programs are designed and structured as diploma, certificate, or associate degree programs. Associate degree programs typically consist of about 60 semester credits and require about two years to complete, although they also provide the most in-depth study in this field. Diploma and certificate programs, on the other hand, may be completed in less time (usually between 10 months and 1 year), although they do not result in a degree.
Medical assistant programs that are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) must meet specific coursework requirements. As a result, many employers and national certifying bodies seek medical assistants who have completed accredited programs.
You can expect your medical assisting program to culminate in an externship, thereby allowing you to receive hands-on experience in a clinical setting after completing all coursework requirements.
In addition to online programs, Georgia is home to 28 CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting programs and 12 ABHES-accredited medical assisting programs.
A 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
Because medical assistants are not licensed to practice in Georgia, one of the only ways to ensure these professionals meet a certain level of competence is through a national certification. Voluntary, national certification has become commonplace in this profession, with the two most widely recognized credentials being:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants
- The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential, through American Medical Technologists
Both of these programs recognize the completion of an accredited medical assisting program for eligibility purposes, and both require candidates to take and pass a certification examination to achieve the related credential.
Other professional 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. Seek Employment as a Medical Assistant
Georgia’s medical assistants are employed in a broad number of settings, including hospitals, ambulatory care centers, and physicians’ offices. Your search for employment as a medical assistant may begin at some of Georgia’s largest medical centers, hospitals, and medical groups, 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