Spurred on by a growing senior population, the demand for healthcare in Wisconsin is going nowhere but up. As a result, the healthcare industry is the state’s second largest employer, supporting more than 108,000 jobs in the state according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
A strong healthcare sector translates into exceptional opportunities for medical assistants in Wisconsin, both now and in the coming years. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the number of medical assistants here will grow by 4.9% in the years between 2019 and 2021.
And while the size of the state’s healthcare sector is impressive, so is its quality. In fact, Wisconsin is home to many nationally ranked state health systems, including Ascension Wisconsin, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
With about 1,680 annual openings in the profession as a result of retirements, natural job turnover, and new job growth, chances are good that there’ll be a strong job market awaiting you once you’ve got the education it takes to be counted among the state’s most qualified medical assistants.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get you there:
|Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting|
|Become a Competitive Medical Assistant through Certification|
|Learn About Wisconsin’s Medical Assistant Job Market|
|Maintain Your Medical Assistant Credentials|
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting
There may be no state requirements to practice in Wisconsin as a medical assistant, but you can bet that most employers demand candidates with solid qualifications that include the completion of a formal medical assisting program and national certification.
Hands down the best, first step to a career in medical assisting is the completion of a formal medical assisting program that’s accredited by either the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Fortunately, there are more than a dozen programs accredited by these agencies in Wisconsin, and many more available as online programs.
The CAAHEP and the ABHES accredit certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs, all of which include a similar course of education and practical training in medical assisting. Some of the courses you’ll find in these programs include:
- Medical assistant laboratory procedures
- Medical assistant clinical procedures
- CPR, first aid and emergency procedures
- Psychology for medical assistants
- Speech and interpersonal communication
- Medical terminology and communication
- Medical assistant administrative procedures
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical law and ethics
- Medical assistant practicum or internship
Certificate and diploma programs provide a shorter course of education and training, at just 10-12 months, while associate degree programs, because they also include a general education core – a set of courses covering the physical sciences, the social sciences, mathematics, communications, and more, take about 2 years to complete.
But this additional time is often time well spent, as many employers prefer medical assistants who have completed an associate’s degree program – and are willing to pay more as a result.
And if you’ve got your sights set on advancing your degree to the bachelor’s level in a field like healthcare administration, public health, or nursing at some point, an Associate of Science (AS) in Medical Assisting will allow you to complete this course of study in a fraction of the time, as most or all of the courses of an AS degree easily transfer to a bachelor’s degree.
Step 2. Become a Competitive Medical Assistant through Certification
Once you’ve completed an accredited medical assisting program, you’ll be eligible to take any one of the national certifications examinations and earn national certification.
Certification is an excellent way to position yourself as a competitive candidate and display your commitment to your profession and to continuing education.
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) – sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants(AAMA)
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) – sponsored by American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) – sponsored by the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP)
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) – sponsored by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Medical Assistant (NCMA) – sponsored by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
Step 3. Learn About Wisconsin’s Medical Assistant Job Market
Once you’ve got the education and national certification that positions you as a competitive candidate, it’s time to begin exploring the many opportunities available through the state’s many hospital systems:
- Orthopaedic Hospital of Washington, Glendale
- UW Health University Hospital, Madison
- Children’s Wisconsin-Milwaukee Hospital, Milwaukee
- SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison
- Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee
- Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, Waukesha
- Aurora Medical Center, Kenosha
- HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire
Step 4. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Credentials
You’ll need to maintain your national credential(s) by meeting specific continuing education requirements:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) – To maintain this credential, you must earn 60 re-certification points every 5 years, with at least 30 of these being from AAMA-approved continuing education units.
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) – To renew this credential, you must maintain an annual membership with the AMT and earn at least 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years.
- Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) – To maintain the NRCMA, you must complete at least two Class-A Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year and maintain a valid CPR certification and yearly membership with the NAHP.
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) – To maintain this credential, you must earn at least 10 Continuing Education (CE) credits every two years.
- Medical Assistant (NCMA) – To maintain this credential, you must complete NCCT-approved continuing education.
One of the best ways to stay connected with your profession is through membership in a professional association like the Wisconsin Society of Medical Assistants (WSMA). The WSMA is an excellent source of:
- Information regarding legislative changes to the profession
- Networking and employment opportunities
- Continuing education and professional development opportunities
2019 job growth projections from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce 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.