Medical assisting is a great career for anyone wanting to get into the medical field or healthcare quickly. Medical assistants work alongside physicians to provide care to patients, usually in doctors offices and clinics.
Pediatric medical assistants get to do everything a regular medical assistant does, but they work with children. Most pediatric medical assistants work with patients from newborns up to age 18.
This guide will go over everything you need to know about pediatric medical assisting, including what they do, how much they make, and how to become one.’
What is a Pediatric Medical Assistant?
Pediatric medical assistants are healthcare workers that assist physicians in caring for babies, children, and adolescents.
Pediatric medical assistants can help with everything from routine check ups to visits for illnesses. They work in pediatric offices all over the country, and often get to form long-term working relationships with the families they care for.
What Does a Pediatric Medical Assistant Do?
Pediatric medical assistants do most of the same things that adult medical assistants do, but with kids instead of adults.
Administrative tasks of pediatric medical assistants include:
- Schedule Appointments. Medical assistants are responsible for managing the office schedule. This includes both helping patients make appointments and keeping things running on time in the office.
- Send reminders. Parents who bring their children in for doctors appointments are often overwhelmed and busy. Medical assistants can help them by calling to follow up with appointment reminders, medication refill reminders, and reminders about follow up care after an illness or injury.
- Check vaccine schedules. Medical assistants are responsible for checking their patients' histories to find out whether they are up to date on their vaccinations. If they are not, they can inform the doctor and give parents the option to get their child caught up.
- Track growth records. Watching how quickly a baby or young child is growing is an important part of monitoring their health. Medical assistants have to take accurate measurements and help track the growth of their patients over time.
- Answer phone calls. Many pediatric offices are very busy with phone calls. Worried parents will often call the pediatrician’s office with questions about their child’s care. Medical assistants can make sure that the families get the help and care that they need.
- Collect payments. Medical assistants will be responsible for checking insurance, collecting payments, and sending payment reminders.
- Give injections. Medical assistants are often the people who will give children their shots. Note that certain states don’t allow medical assistants to give shots, but most do.
- Take vital signs. Measuring vital signs can be tricky on a wiggling infant or a scared toddler, but it is an important part of assessing how well they are doing.
- Take measurements. A baby or child who isn’t growing or gaining weight is sometimes the first indication of a health problem. Medical assistants have to be able to measure height, weight, and head size of babies and toddlers.
- Collect samples. Medical assistants might sometimes have to collect blood, urine, or stool samples from their pediatric patients.
- Assist with assessments. Since children can sometimes have a hard time following instructions, the pediatrician might need a little extra help finishing their assessment on their patient. The medical assistant can help position or distract a child during an examination.
- Comfort children. A doctor's office can be a scary place for a child. Medical assistants can help children feel comfortable and safe while they are in the office.
Where Do Pediatric Medical Assistants Work?
Most pediatric medical assistants work in pediatrician offices or family practice offices. These types of medical assistants are in high demand all over the nation. Some pediatric medical assistants can work in hospitals or even in home health doing respite care for parents with special needs children.
Pediatric medical assistants should be prepared to work in a kid-friendly environment. This means there might be bright colors, children’s toys, kid movies, and toddler music playing throughout the day.
Skills Required to Be a Pediatric Medical Assistant
Being a pediatric medical assistant means that you have to have all the skills a standard medical assistant does, while also helping children feel safe and happy during their visit.
- Fun personality. Working in pediatrics means that you might have to act a little silly sometimes. Being willing to play pretend and use your imagination are essential to being a successful pediatric medical assistant.
- Patience. Any parent of a toddler can tell you that sometimes kids will test your patience. Remember that the doctor's office can be scary for little kids, and try not to let your frustration with a child show.
- Organization. Medical assistants stay busy all day going from room to room, seeing all kinds of different patients. They have to be able to stay organized to manage their time well and avoid making mistakes.
- Creativity. Kids can sometimes be unpredictable. Working in pediatrics means you might have to find ways to solve problems or adjust to the needs of each child.
- Computer skills. Keeping an accurate health record is an important part of medical assisting. In order to do this, you must at least have some basic computer skills.
- Basic medical knowledge. Any person working in healthcare needs to have a basic understanding of medical terminology and when to call for help in an emergency.
- CPR. Most medical assisting jobs require a current CPR certification.
Pediatric Medical Assistant Salaries & Job Outlook
The national average salary for medical assistants is around $37,00 per year or $18 per hour. This is a decent salary for someone just getting started in the medical field.
Pediatric medical assistant jobs stay right close to the average medical assistant salary, with many jobs starting at $16 to $20 per hour.
Medical assistants have one of the best job outlooks in the country. At 16% growth projected through 2030, it should be relatively easy to find a job as a medical assistant for the foreseeable future.
How to Become a Pediatric Medical Assistant
- Obtain your high school diploma or GED. You will have to have a high school diploma or GED before you can apply to a medical assisting program or apply for medical assisting jobs.
- Find a certification program. While it is not usually required, most employers would rather hire a certified medical assistant than someone who is not certified. You can find online or in-person certification programs, and some can be completed in as little as 4 months. Stepful, for example, has an online medical assistant training program that takes four months to complete and leads to a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certification.
- Get certified. After you decide on a program and complete your courses, you will have to pass a certification exam to officially become a certified medical assistant. There are three main types of medical assistant certifications you can choose from.
- Look for jobs. You can find medical assisting jobs online, or by visiting pediatric offices you are interested in.
- Start your career. After completing the steps above, you’ll be ready to start your career working as a pediatric 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: