Medical Assistant in PA

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How to Become a Medical Assistant in Pennsylvania

Medical Assisting is a great way to get into the stable healthcare industry.  These careers provide promotional opportunities and require less training than other positions.

Education and Training

To become a medical assistant in PA, job hopefuls must have the necessary training and education so they can perform their roles successfully.

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While some smaller practices may offer on-the-job training, most medical assistants in PA must attend an accredited trade school or program. These programs provide students with the skills, education, and hands-on training needed to work in the medical field.

When choosing a medical assisting program in PA, look for schools or programs with accreditation awarded by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Employers recognize these organizations and often feel more confident hiring graduates from accredited schools.

What Do You Study?

Medical assistant schools in PA offer instruction on various topics about the human body, legal policies, and patient care.

Additionally, medical assistants must complete an externship as part of their training.

Some of the most common courses include:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Law and ethics
  • Clinical procedures
  • Lab techniques
  • Administrative procedures

How Long Does Training Take?

Most individuals complete their medical assistant training in under a year by attending a community college, trade school, or technical program. These programs typically offer a certificate or a diploma and include a 6-week externship, clinicals, classroom work, and laboratory practice.

Getting an associate degree is also a popular educational choice among job hopefuls.

An Associate of Applied Science, for example, is ideal for those who want to learn more about the field and eventually take on advanced healthcare roles. Although this degree can take two years to complete, it often leads to more job opportunities and higher wages.

Requirements for Medical Assisting Programs in PA

Trade schools in PA that offer medical assisting programs typically require students to be 18 or older and possess either a high school diploma or GED.

Some schools or community colleges may ask that students have a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher. Many trade schools in Pennsylvania offer programs in healthcare, with courses offered in-person and online.

Additional Training for Medical Assistants in PA

Because a medical assistant’s job involves working directly with patients and sensitive information, they must be able to keep this information private. Employers ensure this by hiring individuals trained in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

Additionally, medical offices may use different types of software to keep track of patient medical records. Therefore, job hopefuls must learn the type of electronic health record (EHR) software their employers prefer and how to use it.

Employers may cover their EHR software as part of training. However, trade schools often include popular EHR programs in their curriculums.

Professional Associations for Medical Assistants in PA

The Pennsylvania Society of Medical Assistants provides members with resources to help them grow their careers as medical professionals. Affiliated with the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), this organization has chapters in several counties. Members can stay updated on legislative changes, find training and job opportunities, and connect with colleagues.

PA Medical Assistant Requirements

Pennsylvania does not administer state licenses to medical assistants and does not require specific certification.

However, medical assistant requirements in PA are employer-determined. For the most part, employers prefer to hire individuals who show competency and possess the appropriate training or certifications.

The Pennsylvania legislature does specify the conditions in which medical assistants can work. These conditions include working under the supervision of a physician who assumes full responsibility for the assistant’s actions.

In addition, all training must stay within the boundaries of a particular occupation and not go outside the determined scope of practice.

Why Become a Certified Medical Assistant in PA?

Certified Medical Assistants, or CMAs, have the necessary qualifications to perform administrative and clinical tasks. Many employers prefer to hire applicants with certifications, seeing it as proof of competency for the job.

After completing an accredited training program, graduates may sign up to take the certification exam.

Professional Organizations

Although several organizations offer certification, two of the most popular are the AAMA and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Exams

Exam fees vary depending on the agency you choose to administer your exam. The test covers general subjects like medical law and terminology as well as topics related to administrative and clinical tasks.

Recertification

Those who wish to stay certified throughout their career must renew their CMA credentials every five years. After that, they can either retake the exam or submit continuing education credits for recertification. These credits are available through educational institutions as well as the training provided by the employer.

Medical Assistant Salaries in PA

The average medical assistant salary in PA is about $37,000. Entry-level workers typically earn around $30,000 or more.

Medical assistant salaries in PA can differ according to where a person lives and works. Below are average annual wages in each areas.

Area Name Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton $19.02 $39,550.00
Altoona $16.36 $34,030.00
Bloomsburg-Berwick $17.42 $36,240.00
Chambersburg-Waynesboro $18.46 $38,410.00
East Stroudsburg $16.77 $34,890.00
Erie $16.94 $35,240.00
Gettysburg $18.39 $38,250.00
Harrisburg-Carlisle $18.56 $38,600.00
Johnstown $16.17 $33,640.00
Lancaster $18.62 $38,740.00
Lebanon $18.33 $38,130.00
Northern Pennsylvania $17.11 $35,590.00
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington $19.96 $41,520.00
Pittsburgh $18.26 $37,980.00
Reading $19.21 $39,960.00
Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton $17.77 $36,960.00
Southern Pennsylvania $17.31 $36,000.00
State College $18.06 $37,560.00
Western Pennsylvania $16.20 $33,690.00
Williamsport $17.45 $36,290.00
York-Hanover $18.19 $37,830.00

Occupation:Medical Assistants (SOC Code319092)
source: data.bls.gov

After completing a trade program and gaining certification as a CMA, job hopefuls stand a chance at earning more.

Some of the highest-paid medical assistants in the nation work at outpatient care centers like urgent care, nursing homes, and ambulatory surgery centers. Hospitals and doctor’s offices also pay well for this career.

Job Description

As essential healthcare support workers, medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks inside doctor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other medical facilities.

Responsibilities

Their primary duties can change depending on where they work, how large the practice is, and whether they specialize in a particular field like podiatry or ophthalmology.

In PA, medical assistants must be certified to perform certain tasks, as well.

There are two types of medical assistants, and their responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Administrative Medical Assistant – This type of healthcare worker handles in-office tasks like recording patient history, completing insurance forms, scheduling appointments, taking phone calls, and maintaining or updating medical records.
  2. Clinical Medical Assistant – With the proper certifications, clinical medical assistants can measure vitals, administer medications, draw and prep blood samples, change wound dressings, and assist doctors with patient exams as well as administrative work.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the medical assisting field to grow faster than most occupations in the United States. With a national job growth rate of 16%, there could be close to 123,000 medical assistant job openings each year by 2031. Pennsylvania could also see exponential growth in this field as the population ages, increasing the need for medical care.

Search Medical Assistant Programs

Get information on Medical Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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