Medical assistants support physicians and other medical staff. They perform routine duties that a physician can safely delegate, such as taking vital signs, recording patient histories, and administering medications. Read on for some online resources that offer a look inside the world of medical assisting.
Medical assistance are taking on expanded roles in hospitals and clinics nationwide. Certifications in the field are also growing more detailed and specialized. To find out about the professional options available to you, check out the certification options and resources offered by the following national medical assisting organizations.
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) - This organization offers its members educational opportunities, professional certifications, advocacy, and networking opportunities.
- American Medical Technologists (AMT) - This professional association provides its members with continuing education and credentialing options. In addition, AMT is active on a local level; student-level participation is encouraged, and state and national gatherings are common. A jobs board is also available online.
- American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA) - Nearly 1,400 members strong, ASPMA provides continuing education and certifications for medical assistants specializing in podiatry. Student members may acquire internships through this organization, and networking events allow professional podiatry assistants to mingle.
- National Health Career Association (NHA) - Among the numerous certifications available via the NHA is the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). Study guides and practice tests are available online. The NHA also offers its members connections with potential employers and continuing education options.
- American Registry of Medical Assistants - This organization offers certification for medical assistants, plus continuing education for working medical assistants. An online forum allows members to communicate with peers.
Since medical assistance study such a broad range of both medical and non-medical sciences, a lot of the most relevant courseware actually overlaps with general science majors. You can see a list of some of the best related open courseware available online below.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers many free online classes from its Health Sciences and Technology department. Examples of classes that may be helpful to a medical assistant include Quantitative Physiology, Musculoskeletal Pathophysiology, Gastroenterology, and Medical Computing.
- Similarly, Tufts University offers open courseware that could prove useful to an aspiring medical assistant. Introduction to Clinical Pain Problems, Cardiovascular Pathophysiology, Human Growth and Development, and Nutrition and Medicine are among the many classes available for free.
- The University of Minnesota offers a free, self-paced Web Anatomy class. Covered topics include biochemistry, histology, bones, immunology, and the cardiovascular system.
- Des Moines University offers a graduate-school level open course on Medical Terminology. Authored by William J. Dyche, the course will familiarize the student with over 300 key terms in medicine. Each individual system in the body is covered: digestive, urinary, reproductive, musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory.
- The University of Wisconsin Online offers a unique collection of learning objects, or sets of information that a student may use. There are 17 different study modules targeted toward medical assistants. Samples of module content include Glands of the Endocrine System, The Lymphatic System, The Skeleton, Open Wounds, and Examination Positions.
Books and Magazines
Medical assistants are responsible for a lot of procedural knowledge that is constantly being updated or even replaced. It's crucial to have a reference guide that you can trust, during both school and your career. Here are our recommendations on the most user friendly and up-to-date reference materials available. (Be sure to check for e-book versions, too!)
- Today's Medical Assistant: Clinical & Administrative Procedures, 2e - Written by Kathy Bonewit-West, Sue Hunt, and Edith Applegate, this title is the definitive textbook in medical assisting. Anatomy and physiology, procedural details, the ICD-10, emergency preparedness, and electronic medical records are just a few of the topics this book examines.
- Medical Terminology: A Short Course, 6e - Medical terminology, in both spoken and written form, is broken down in this reference book. Easy-to-understand explanations are accompanied by images and labeled illustrations. First-person vignettes and physician notes are used to further define potentially confusing terminology.
- MA Notes: Medical Assistant's Pocket Guide - This pocket-sized reference book is as valuable for students in medical assisting programs as it is for working professionals. Common abbreviations, dosage calculations, lab values, and triage questions are displayed for easy and fast reference.
- Color Atlas of Anatomy: A Photographic Study of the Human Body - Anatomy is brilliantly illustrated in this textbook. Full-color photos of dissections are presented with relevant drawings and diagnostic imaging. Examples of MRI and CT scans are included.
- Kinn's The Medical Assistant with ICD-10 Supplement: An Applied Learning Approach, 12e - A standard publication in medical assistant schools, the 12th edition of this textbook introduces students to the clinical and professional skills that lead to a successful career. Assisting in various specialties is covered, as is the new ICD-10 coding. Case studies and clear illustrations of procedures demonstrate best practices.
- Comprehensive Medical Assisting Exam Review - Preparation for the CMA, RMA, and CMAS Exams: This study guide prepares readers for the three major medical assisting certification exams. Sample tests and thorough content on general, clinical and administrative topics are included, as is a CD-ROM with over 1,600 test questions.
- CMA Today - Published bimonthly by the American Association of Medical Assistants, CMA Today covers association and industry news pertinent to healthcare administration. Public affairs, office management, current events, and clinical assistance are discussed in every issue, along with industry profiles and an educator's forum.
Medical assistance can be used to describe a broad range of assisting functions. As such, there are a number of relevant industry blogs about or related to the tasks of MAs. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Medical Assistant Blog - Dedicated to medical assistants and their particular interests and needs, this blog reports events and news in the industry, and addresses concerns common to medical assistants. While its most recent post was in 2012, the information found here is still quite relevant to the field.
- Legal Eye on Medical Assisting - Written by Donald Balasa, the executive director and legal counsel for the American Association of Medical Assistants, this blog discusses current events and professional credentialing. Blog topics have included audits, electronic health record software, scope of practice, public health and cancer disease staging, among many others.
- The Impacted Nurse - Sharply written by a practicing ER nurse, this blog gives a good look at the day-to-day life in healthcare services. Blog entries range from comical to clinical discussions and best practices in patient care.
Who to Follow on Twitter
An increasing number of health care providers, agencies and professionals use Twitter as a way to discuss the emerging trends and expanded roles in the field of medical assisting. These are just a few Twitter accounts worth following:
- Medical Assistant @MaaMedical - Current events, news, and industry-specific information can all be found on this Twitter feed.
- Medical Assistant @Med_Assist_Net - Details about day-in-the-life activities of a medical assistant, choices in education, and career info can all be found here.
- Medical Assistant @MedicalAsstJobs - Check out current job listings in medical assisting here.
- Kevin Pho, M.D. @kevinmd - This noted physician and public speaker, Kevin Pho, is the author of the popular Kevin MD website targeting healthcare professionals. His Twitter stream is peppered with news, links to blog posts, and his opinion on current events in medicine.