Missouri’s hospital system, which supports more than 300,000 jobs, generates $27 billion for the state annually, and is home to healthcare leaders like Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, St. Luke’s in Chesterfield, and SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton, is one of the major reasons why the state’s medical assistants are among the most sought-after allied health pros and why their future growth looks so darn impressive.
According to projections by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the number of medical assistants here will climb by 3.1% in the short period between 2019 and 2021.
And through a combination of retirements, turnover in the workforce as MAs transition to more advanced positions, and new job growth, a cool 1,340 annual openings ensure you’ll have your share of exciting job opportunities awaiting you when you join the ranks of Missouri’s highly qualified medical assistants.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to earn the qualifications demanded by Missouri’s top healthcare employers:
|Complete an Accredited Medical Assisting Program|
|Earn a National Credential in Medical Assisting|
|Find a Job in Missouri’s Booming Healthcare Industry|
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Medical Assisting Program
An accredited medical assisting program is the best, first step you can take to become a medical assistant. By 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), you’re guaranteed eligibility for national certification. Accredited programs also come with stringent coursework and practical training requirements that ensure you’ll be adequately prepared to serve as a competent, entry-level medical assistant upon graduation.
Both organizations accredit certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs, all of which offer a similar course of education and training in medical assisting. Some of the coursework you’ll find in these programs includes:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Record keeping
- Medical terminology
- Coding and insurance processing
- Clinical and diagnostic procedures
- First aid
- Office practices
- Medical law and ethics
To date, there are 3 programs accredited by CAAHP and 6 programs accredited by ABHES in Missouri, and many more online.
You’ll be able to complete a certificate or diploma program in about 10-12 months, but an associate’s degree program will take about 2 years to complete because it also includes a general education core – a comprehensive set of courses covering mathematics, communications, the social sciences, the physical sciences, and more.
The additional time it takes to complete an associate’s degree may very well be worth your efforts. Employers often demand (or at least prefer) medical assistants who’ve completed an associate’s degree, so this degree often results in better/more varied job opportunities and greater earning potential.
And for medical assistants with an eye on advancing their education in the future, the Associate of Science (AS) in Medical Assisting is a great choice, as most of the courses in these programs easily transfer to a bachelor’s degree in a field like healthcare administration, health information management, and virtually any allied health field. Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are also widely available. The AAS comes will the benefits of the AS but the credits won’t usually transfer to a bachelor’s.
Step 2. Consider Earning a National Credential in Medical Assisting
National certification isn’t legally necessary to practice as a medical assistant, but more often than not, you’ll find healthcare employers and physicians require medical assistants with one or more national certs, so it’s always worth your time to include one or two national designations on your resume.
Although eligibility to sit for a national certification may vary from one certifying body to the next, all recognize the completion of an accredited medical assisting program, or programs that are determined to be equivalent in terms of curriculum, field training and clock hours. This means you’ll be eligible to sit for the certification exam of your choice once you complete your medical assisting program.
The American Association of Medical Assistants’ Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and American Medical Technologists’ Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) remain the two most widely pursued national designations in medical assisting, but there are also more from which to choose:
- 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
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Step 3. Find a Job in Missouri’s Booming Healthcare Industry
Once you’ve earned the education and national certification that make you a well-qualified candidate, it’s time to locate some of the great professional opportunities available through the state’s largest healthcare systems, such as:
- University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Columbia
- Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Saint Louis
- Boone Hospital Center, Columbia
- Capital Region Medical Center, Jefferson City
- Centerpoint Medical Center, Independence
- Mercy Hospital, Joplin
- Mercy Hospital Springfield, Springfield
- North Kansas City Hospital, North Kansas City
- Saint Francis Medical Center, Cape Girardeau
- SSM Health DePaul Hospital, St. Louis
- TMC Health Sciences District, Kansas City
Now is also a good time to become a member of the Missouri Society of Medical Assistants, the state chapter of the AAMA with municipal chapters in Jasper and Springfield. Some of the benefits of membership include networking events, 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 Missouri Economic Research and Information Center 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.