Care + Career

      Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

      The Role of the Medical Assistant: Change, Opportunity and Growth

      Health care is an ever-evolving field … but the landscape has changed more than usual over the last couple of years. For instance, medical assistants (MA) are in greater demand, are being tasked with more responsibilities — and in many cases, are being rewarded for it.

      The high demand for MAsScreen Shot 2017-10-16 at 2.00.28 PM.png

      The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a job growth rate between 9 – 13 percent is “faster than average.” In 2020, the BLS predicted that the medical assistant profession would grow at a rate of 18% over the next 10 years.

      At the same time, the number of MA completions is declining — further growing job opportunities for medical assistants.

      Why the growth?

      The driver behind MA job growth is an increased demand for access to care. Some factors that contribute to this demand include:

      • Innovations and new treatments
      • An aging population
      • An increase in the numbers of patients with chronic diseases associated with obesity

      How the MA’s role is changing

      The MA’s role is transitioning from a solo assistant to the provider to a high-value, integral clinical team member. MA’s are now tasked with greater responsibilities and are often key members of care teams.

      “The expectations are higher, and medical assistants are meeting these. As medicine moves to be more lean, medical assistants understand that their role is vital because they are not as expensive as LPN/RNs, but very vital to making ambulatory patient care work well,” said Elizabeth Thompson, medical practice administrator, Indiana University Health – Southern Indiana Physicians.

      Why the shift?

      Health care professionals are often encouraged to work at the top of their license, freeing up providers to complete tasks only they can do. In turn, a cascading “top-of-license” approach flows throughout the rest of the team – including medical assistants.

      Examples of ways that medical assistants can work at the top of their credentials include:

      • Stepping into the role of a flow manager
      • Running team huddles
      • Preplanning patient visits
      • Completing various health screenings
      Some organizations are now considering their most experienced medical assistants for the roles of a scribe, health coach, patient navigator, population health manager or patient care coordinator. As medical assistants broaden their skillset, there will be significant pressure to perform at a higher level in the areas of professionalism, informatics and performing clinical tasks.

      Read how one CCMA’s role has evolved for the better here.

      A time to shine

      Recognition of medical assistants is at an all-time high and the role of medical assistants is expanding. Now is the time for MAs to shine as we continue to navigate this new era of health care. 

      To read more about the changing landscape of medical assisting and get an employer’s perspective,Download the 2021 Industry Outlook from the latest edition of accessTM.


      Topics: medical assistants, medical assisting, CCMA