Statewide, Mississippi’s medical assistants are valued among optometrists, podiatrists, general physicians, gynecologists, plastic surgeons, and more, all of whom rely on these allied health pros to handle any and all administrative and clinical tasks assigned to them.
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And while Mississippi’s economy has been slow-going in recent years, its healthcare sector remains robust, coming in as the state’s largest sector, at $4.2 billion. The strength of the state’s healthcare sector has translated into good opportunities for medical assistants in the coming years. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security projects that the number of medical assistants will grow by 1.5% between 2019 and 2021.
If you want to join the ranks of Mississippi’s qualified medical assistants, you’ll need to make sure you have the qualifications that Mississippi’s employers demand.
Here are the steps you’ll want to take to become a well-qualified medical assistant in Mississippi:
|Complete a Medical Assistant Education Program
|Earn National Certification
|Find a Job in Medical Assisting in Mississippi
Step 1. Complete a Medical Assistant Education Program
A career in medical assisting should always start with a formal training program. 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) ensures it provides the education and training necessary to make you a competent, entry-level medical assistant who is ready for the job on day one. Accredited programs also satisfy the eligibility requirements for national certification.
CAAHEP- and ABHES-accredited programs may be designed as certificate, diploma, or associate degree programs and all include a similar course of education and practical training. To date, there are 3 programs accredited by CAAHEP and 2 programs accredited by ABHES in Mississippi, and many more available online.
But while a certificate or diploma usually takes just 10-12 months to complete, an associate’s degree requires about 2 years of study because it also includes a general education core that includes courses in communications, the physical sciences, the social sciences, math, and more.
Despite a longer course of study, the AS or AAS in Medical Assisting have become the go-to options among aspiring medical assistants and a common requirement among some of the state’s top employers.
Better pay, more job opportunities, and greater opportunities for advancement make the AS degree a smart choice among aspiring medical assistants. Plus, an AS degree easily transfers to a bachelor’s degree in fields like healthcare administration, public health, and just about any allied health field. Associate of applied science (AAS) degrees are even more common, but since they are strictly designed for career preparation they don’t typically work as transfer degrees.
Step 2. Earn National Certification
National certification in medical assisting has become a symbol of advanced aptitude and competency. Because of this, it’s common for employers and physicians to seek medical assistants who hold a national credential.
The two most commonly sought after credentials in medical assisting are the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential through American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential through American Medical Technologists (AMT).
You can earn eligibility to take either the CMA or RMA certification exam by first completing an accredited medical assisting program, or a program that is equivalent to an accredited program in every way.
While the CMA and RMA remain the most popular designations, a number of other national certifications in medical assisting exist:
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified
- National Healthcareer Association: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
- National Center for Competency Testing: The National Certified Medical Assistant
Step 3. Find a Job in Medical Assisting in Mississippi
With your training and certification behind you, you have the qualifications to present yourself as a highly qualified candidate ready for any medical assisting job in Mississippi.
Once you’ve got your resume polished up, you can begin your job search by checking out some of the opportunities available through the state’s leading hospitals, medical groups, and clinics, including:
- University of Mississippi Medical Center
- University Physicians Pavilion, Jackson
- University Physicians, Grants Ferry, Flowood
- University Physicians, Lakewood Medical Center, Jackson
- University Physicians, Women’s Specialty Care at Mirror Lake, Flowood
- University Physicians, Northeast Jackson
- Jackson Medical Mall, Jackson
- Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base
- Baptist Memorial Hospital, Southaven
- Memorial Hospital at Gulfport
Now is also a great time to become involved in the Mississippi state chapter of the AAMA, which has chapters in Central, Mainstream, and Northeast Mississippi. Becoming a member of a professional association is a great resource for networking with colleagues, locating continuing education opportunities to keep your national cert current, and for staying up-to-date on the latest changes in the profession and within the healthcare industry.
2019 job growth projections from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security 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.