When you’re home to healthcare goliaths like Rochester’s Mayo Clinic, which employs more than 43,000 and boasts an annual revenue of more than $12 billion, and Bloomington’s HealthPartners Inc., which includes no less than 300 hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, and specialty centers across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, tons of opportunities for well-trained medical assisting naturally follow.
In fact, projections from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reveal that the number of medical assistants will increase by 4.2% just within the short period between 2019 and 2021. With annual openings totaling about 1,370 due to a combination of retirements, turnover in the job market, and new job growth, you can bet there’ll be plenty of opportunities to get your career in medical assisting off the ground once you’ve earned the education and certification that employers expect.
Here are the steps to take to become a highly qualified medical assistant in Minnesota:
|Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting|
|Earn National Certification|
|Enter the Workforce in Minnesota|
Minnesota recognizes medical assistants as unlicensed healthcare support professionals who are allowed to perform a variety of patient care, instructional, financial, diagnostic, and administrative tasks under the direct supervision of a physician.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development recognizes a number of medical assistant duties:
- Preparing examination rooms for patients
- Cleaning and sterilizing instrument
- Performing laboratory tests
- Giving injections and treatments to patients
- Receiving payments
- Completing insurance forms
- Operating x-ray, EKG, and other equipment for routine diagnostic tests
- Giving physiotherapy treatments, including galvanics, hydrotherapy, and diathermy
- Ordering medical supplies and materials
- Scheduling appointments
- Maintaining medical records
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting
Completing an accredited medical assistant education program in Minnesota is the best, first step to becoming a medical assistant.
Choosing a program that’s accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) comes with an assurance of quality and a guarantee that you’ll earn the eligibility required for national certification.
Both the CAAHEP and the ABHES accredit certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs in medical assisting, all of which include a similar course of education and practical training that will ensure you’re job-ready on day one. Some of the courses within these programs include:
- Medical terminology
- Medical office administration
- Electronic records management
- Laboratory procedures
- Clinical procedures
- Medical insurance billing and coding
- Health, safety, and emergency procedures
There are 11 CAAHEP-accredited programs and 7 ABHES-accredited programs in Minnesota, and plenty more options available online.
While all accredited programs prepare students to serve as competent, entry-level medical assistants, certificate and diploma programs offer a shorter route to practice at just 10-12 months, while associate degree programs take about 2 years to complete because they also include a general education core.
Despite a longer course of study, the Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in medical assisting has become the degree of choice among both employers and medical assistants. Employers prefer the associate’s degree because it produces more well-rounded medical assistants with sharper written and verbal skills, while medical assistants prefer this degree because it often results in better/more varied job opportunities and better earning potential.
The AS is also the degree you’re after if you have plans to advance your education to a bachelor’s degree at some point, as you can expect most or all of the courses of an AS to easily transfer to a bachelor’s in fields like healthcare administration, public health, or allied health.
Step 2. Consider Testing for a National Credential
More often than not, employers prefer candidates who have earned national certification. A national credential in medical assisting shows that you’ve achieved an advanced level of knowledge in the profession and is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition.
National certification options include:
- The American Association of Medical Assistants: Certified Medical Assistant credential
- American Medical Technologists: Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
- National Center for Competency Testing: The National Certified Medical Assistant
- National Healthcareer Association: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant
The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential and the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential remain two of the most widely recognized credentials in the industry. You’ll earn eligibility to take the required examinations by completing an accredited program in medical assisting, or programs that are equivalent in terms of curriculum, field training and the number of clock hours involved in completing the program.
Step 3. Enter the Workforce in Minnesota
Now that you’ve achieved the education and national certification that make you a highly qualified candidate, it’s time to explore some of the outstanding opportunities available through the state’s hospitals, physician groups, and ambulatory care centers:
- University of Minnesota Physicians, Minneapolis
- Duluth Clinic, Duluth
- Allina Health Medical Clinic, Coon Rapids
- Park Nicollet Clinic, Burnsville
- Mayo Clinic, Rochester
- Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis
- Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids
- University of Minnesota Medical Center, Minneapolis
Now is also a good time to become a member of the Minnesota Society of Medical Assistants, the state chapter of the AAMA. Some of the perks of membership include networking opportunities, continuing education opportunities to maintain your national credential, and info on the most recent job openings in the field.
2019 job growth projections from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development 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.