On-the-Job Training for Medical Assistants

A medical assistant is a healthcare worker that performs essential clinical and administrative duties in healthcare settings like hospitals or private clinics. Although medical assistants generally complete a training program, it is also possible to become one through on-the-job training. 

One thing to keep in mind is that Washington state requires medical assistants to complete a program and earn a certification in order to work. In addition, some workplaces may require their employees to hold a medical assistant certification

This article will go over what on-the-job training for medical assistants is and the best ways to search for these kinds of positions.

Does On-the-Job Training for Medical Assistants Exist?

Yes! On-the-job training for medical assistants exists. This is possible because there are few medical assistant education requirements outside of having a high school diploma or GED.

In many cases, employers may need to hire more medical assistants to handle their daily volume of patients. There may not be enough medical assistants who have completed training programs or have earned a certification.

In these situations, employers may choose to hire applicants with no prior medical assistant experience, with the intention of providing them with on-the-job training. This can be convenient because it allows the employer to specifically train their medical assistants to work in their particular facility and understand medical assistant terminology.

In addition, on-the-job training is a practical way to learn how to be a medical assistant because it provides you with valuable hands-on experience in the place you want to work at.

It is also worth noting that medical assistants are in high demand as healthcare facilities are often busy with high workloads and patient volumes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistant jobs are expected to grow by 16% over the next decade, which is much faster than the average outlook for all jobs in the nation.

Where to Find On-the-Job Training for Medical Assisting

In most states, there are no formal requirements needed to become a medical assistant, aside from having a high school diploma or equivalent. 

As a result, aspiring medical assistants do not need to complete a medical assisting training program, hold a certification, or have significant job experience. That being said, having any of these things can significantly increase your chances of getting hired.

Here are some of the best ways to find positions that offer on-the-job training:

Search job boards for medical assistant jobs that offer on-the-job training 

This is the easiest way to find local medical assistant jobs that offer on-the-job training. You can usually find several job listings on websites like Indeed or Glassdoor by searching for “medical assistant on the job training” or “medical assistant no experience”.

Make sure to carefully read the job descriptions before applying. Some key phrases to look for in job titles or descriptions are “no experience necessary” or “we will train”. In addition, these types of jobs will typically list “high school diploma or equivalent” as their only educational requirement. 

Pay attention to whether jobs list qualifications as preferences or requirements. For example, some jobs may list “medical assistant experience”, “CMA certification”, or “CCMA certification” as preferences, while others will list them as requirements.  

Even though a job posting may list medical assistant experience or certification as preferences, it may still be worth applying for these jobs, especially if there are no other on-the-job training positions currently available. Job listings on these websites come and go quickly, so keep checking to see what new openings show up. 

Also, many employers also appreciate applicants who have additional training such as CPR or Basic Life Support certification. See the section below to learn more about some of these additional skills and certifications. 

Contact local hospitals and clinics

Another way to find on-the-job training is by contacting hospitals and clinics in your area. Private practices or smaller-scale clinics may be more open to hiring medical assistants for on-the-job training. You can usually reach out to them through phone or email. You can also visit them in person. 

Once you get in touch with them, explain that you are looking to work as a medical assistant and are inquiring about any positions that provide on-the-job training. If you have any relevant certifications (such as CPR or BLS) or skills, be sure to mention that. 

Even if they are unable to offer you an on-the-job training position at their facility, they may have more information or connections that can help you find a job in the future. 

Consider an externship

If positions with on-the-job training are not currently available in your area, externships are also a solid option. 

Medical assistant externships can also be found through job boards or by contacting local hospitals and clinics. Most of the time, externships are short-term, unpaid positions. 

However, an externship will provide you with valuable experience and networking that can help you land a medical assistant job in the future. Later on, we’ll go into more depth on what an externship is and why participating in one may be worthwhile. 

Skills That Can Help You Get a Job as a Medical Assistant with On-the-Job Training

These skills or certifications are not typically required for medical assistant positions with on-the-job training. However, they are usually preferred because they may reduce the amount of time that the employer needs to train you. In addition, they can help you stand out when applying for a job:

  • CPR certified. As with any healthcare worker, it is important that medical assistants know how to respond in emergency health situations. Though CPR certification may not always be required, it may be preferred by employers. A CPR certification course usually only takes a couple of hours to complete, so it is definitely worth getting CPR certified. 
  • Basic Life Support certified. Basic life support is also an important skill for medical assistants to have. As with CPR certification, BLS certification may not always be a requirement. However, it may be preferred by employers. A BLS course usually takes a couple of hours to complete, so it is also worth getting BLS certified.
  • Phlebotomy certified. Medical assistants can draw blood as one of their clinical job duties, but only if they have completed additional training. The length of phlebotomy certification programs vary depending on the state and institution. Phlebotomy certification is rarely required to get hired as a medical assistant with on-the-job training, however, it will definitely help you stand out compared to other applicants.  
  • Electronic medical records experience. Medical assistants spend a lot of time working with electronic medical records as part of their administrative duties. It can be helpful to have had some experience working as a medical scribe or with electronic medical record software. However, this experience is typically preferred, not required. There may be electronic medical record courses available online or at your local post-secondary institution. 
  • Ability to speak Spanish or other languages. Medical assistants who are fluent in Spanish have an advantage in getting hired, especially if they plan to work at a location that serves a Spanish-speaking patient base. Any healthcare worker can benefit from learning Spanish. Medical Spanish courses can be found online or at your local community college. 

Typical Pay for Medical Assistants Training on the Job

If you’re interested in working as a medical assistant with no prior experience, typical pay can range from $12 to $19 per hour. This will vary depending on a variety of factors such as location, relative amount of experience, and the employer. 

Some positions may be labeled as unpaid internships. In these positions, you do not get paid during your internship or training period. 

>> Learn more: Average Medical Assistant Salary

Why You Should Consider a Medical Assistant Externship

A medical assistant externship gives participants an opportunity to experience what being a medical assistant is actually like. Unlike on-the-job training, an externship is a temporary position. You generally are not expected to perform all the duties or have all the skills that an employee would.  

Most of your time during an externship will be spent either observing medical assistants or working under close supervision. The vast majority of the time, medical externships are unpaid. 

However, an externship is a great chance to network with other professionals and explore the field of medical assisting. It also provides you with first-hand experience that will be valuable when you apply for jobs in the future. 

Finally, an externship can lead to more opportunities such as being hired as a medical assistant with on-the-job training. 

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