A medical assistant is a healthcare worker who usually works in a doctor's office or outpatient clinic. They help medical doctors take care of patients and handle both administrative and clerical responsibilities.
Cardiology is medicine that has to do with the heart. This includes taking care of patients with heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary artery disease. Medical assistants working in cardiology help monitor vital signs and take images of the heart.
This guide will go over everything you need to know about being a cardiology medical assistant, including where they work, what they do, average salary, and how to become one.
What is a Cardiology Medical Assistant?
Cardiology medical assistants work with specialized doctors called cardiologists. Together, they help care for patients' heart health.
Cardiology patients are often long term patients who need frequent care, and cardiology medical assistants will probably have an opportunity to build long term relationships with their clients.
What Are the Duties of a Cardiology Medical Assistant?
A cardiology medical assistant will help with examinations and tests related to cardiac care. This often requires more specialized training than other types of medical assistants.
Clinical responsibilities of a cardiology medical assistant may include:
- Measuring and recording vital signs. Tracking heart rate and blood pressure is especially important in cardiology clinics, because even subtle changes can indicate big problems.
- Preparing rooms for patients. Medical assistants are in charge of cleaning and preparing rooms in between patients. This includes making sure everything is sanitized and all necessary items have been restocked.
- Collecting samples. Cardiology medical assistants will have to be comfortable collecting samples of blood, urine, and stool to send to the laboratory for testing. Cardiology patients need frequent blood draws and often have small veins, meaning that the cardiology medical assistant should have great phlebotomy skills.
- Performing ECG. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test used to look at the rhythm of the heart from all different angles. EKGs can show heart attacks, irregular rhythms, precious heart damage, and hearts that beat too fast or too slow. Accurate EKG measuring requires special training.
Administrative duties of a cardiology medical assistant may include:
- Handling billing and payments. Administrative responsibilities may include collecting payments, calling insurance companies, and sending out accurate billing information.
- Answering phone calls. Medical assistants can help patients refill prescriptions and coordinate with the physician to answer patient questions over the phone.
- Managing office scheduling. Medical assistants not only help patients schedule appointments, they also help to make sure that all appointments are running on time within the office.
Where Do Cardiology Medical Assistants Work?
Cardiology medical assistants usually work in specialty offices and clinics. Some cardiology medical assistants will even work in hospitals on cardiac care units.
Working in a clinic usually means working during normal business hours, while working in a hospital may require nights and weekends. I’m either location, medical assistants will be working in a fast-paced environment that requires a lot of physical labor.
Cardiology medical assistants are needed all over the United States. From big cities to rural communities, there are plenty of jobs available.
Skills Required to Be a Cardiology Medical Assistant?
Besides all of the common medical assisting skills, cardiology medical assistants may need some specialized skills, such as:
- EKG certification. One specialty skill that a cardiology medical assistant needs is the ability to place leads for an EKG recording. This may require a special certification course.
- Medical terminology. In order to communicate effectively with the rest of the healthcare team, medical assistants should have a basic understanding of medical terminology.
- Organization. Between documenting vital signs, handling billing, and keeping supplies stocked, medical assistants must have fantastic organizational skills.
- Customer service. Medical assistants are often the first and last person a patient sees during their visit to the clinic. It is important to help the patients feel welcome and cared for during their appointments.
- Manual dexterity. Medical assistants often have to handle small medical instruments and help with bedside procedures. Having good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity is important.
- Computer skills. Accurate documentation is a huge part of medical care. Without a good understanding of computer systems, important information could be lost.
- Eye for detail. It is important to notice subtle changes in a patient and know when to report them to a supervisor. A change in a patient's color or vital signs could mean that they are in need of urgent care.
Cardiology Medical Assistant Salaries & Job Outlook
The national average for medical assistant salaries is around $37,000 per year, or $18 per hour. This varies based on your job location, experience, certifications, and specialty area.
Cardiology medical assistants generally earn a starting pay of $18 to 20 per hour. Many listings for cardiology medical assistants also offer sign on bonuses of up to $4,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistant job opportunities are expected to increase 16% from 2021 to 2031. This is faster than most other healthcare support roles like CNAs and dental assistants.
How to Become a Cardiology Medical Assistant
Luckily, there are education requirements for medical assistants. If you’re interested in becoming a cardiology medical assistant, here are the steps you’ll have to take:
- Obtain your high school diploma or GED. Before you can apply for jobs or get your medical assisting certification, you must have a high school diploma or GED.
- Decide if you want your certification. There is no law requiring that medical assistants have to be certified, however, most offices and clinics prefer to hire certified medical assistants. You can even choose a program that ends with an associate degree in medical assisting, but this is not required for certification.
- Get the necessary training & education. If this includes certification, you might attend a college, technical school, or complete an online program. These usually take anywhere from 4 months to two years. For example, Stepful has an online medical assisting training program that takes 4 months to complete and includes an in-person externship.
- Get extra certifications. Since cardiology is so specialized, you may need to complete an EKG course before starting a new job. It might also be helpful to become certified in phlebotomy and take an extra medical billing course.
- Apply for jobs. Using job search sites like Indeed and Monster make it easy to apply for medical assisting jobs. If you have a particular office or clinic in mind, you can even contact them directly or go see them in person.
- Start your career. After you have completed the steps above, you are ready to start working as a cardiology medical assistant.
See Other Medical Assistant Specialties
Check out some of our other guides on medical assistant specialties to see if a different one may be right for you: