OB GYN Medical Assistants are clinical and administrative technicians who assist and perform duties under the direction of a gynecologist. An OB, or obstetrician, delivers babies and cares for women while pregnant. A gyn is short for gynecologist, which is a physician who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive organs.
An OB/GYN is a dual provider who deals with female health issues, diseases, pregnancy, and delivers babies. Medical assistants provide assistance to OB GYN’s and carry on a lot of the simpler tasks to free up the medical professional for more specific tasks that only they can provide.
Medical Assistants are in high demand as the elderly population increases, and the US Bureau of Labor predicts a 23% increase in available positions from 2014 to 2024. This means more than 160,000 new jobs are expected to become available to medical assistants by 2024.
To be sure you are prepared for this exciting opportunity, please enjoy the following information that has been compiled to help you learn the duties of a medical assistant, education, wages, type of work environment, and type of person suited to pursue a career in this field.
Duties and Responsibilities
Duties and responsibilities for a medical assistant vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice. A medical assistant may focus on administrative duties, such as record keeping and insurance billing, or on the patient care aspect, such as recording vitals and discussing patient history. An OB GYN medical assistant may be tasked with the following, among other responsibilities:
- Common Medical Assistant duties that all medical assistants in disregard of specialty are required to be proficient in include the following;
- Clerical work such as Office tasks, answering phones, entering data, typing, word processing, greeting patients, and recording information in electronic medical records, also known as EMR
- Recording vital signs
- Collecting patient history
- Preparing patients for exams or treatment
- Assisting minor surgeries
- Collecting laboratory test samples
- Performing electrocardiograms (EKGs)
And here are the 10 OB GYN duties that are important for you to know:
- Pap smears, breast exams, and pelvic exams
- Advising women on general vaginal care, such as cleaning, preventing vaginal infections, avoiding tight clothing and other germ gathering practices, before and after sex care, menstrual irregularity, etc
- Fertility assistance, ie helping families get pregnant
- Additional family planning, birth control and voluntary sterilization
- Menopause management
- Pregnancy discussion, information, and education
- Assisting with delivery and labor
- Feminine health issues, with direction from OB GYN
- Discussing treatment plans for disease
- Asking questions that may be considered very invasive, regarding intercourse, sexual activity and history
As you can see, specializing in OB GYN for Medical Assisting is a bit different than a generalized medical assistant position. You must be comfortable with women, children, and all aspects of female health, biology, and pregnancy.
Continuing education is necessary, not only for the licensing requirements but to stay up to date on medical treatments as well.
Education for OB GYN Medical Assistant
There are two options to working as a medical assistant. The common route is to attend a certified program and obtain a license, while some may choose to be trained by a physician with no secondary education.
To be licensed, medical assistants must be graduates of accredited medical assisting programs. This means a program that has been authorized by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). A typical program lasts between 9-12 months for a certificate or an associate’s degree in 18-25 months.
There are many physical campuses to complete your training for medical assisting which can be found by researching in your area. A student may also consider medical assistant training online, after ensuring that the program is accredited, of course.
Benefits of online training include a more flexible schedule and the ability to work from home on coursework. Remember to check accreditation and reviews of programs, and do not give out private information without verifying the recipients are a reputable source.
Research is vital, as fraudulent programs abound on the internet. One recommendation is to search the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website, which has a location based search tool. Keep in mind that a local community college will be more cost effective than an online college, where you will be paying more for the convenience and lax scheduling.
An accredited medical assistant program more than likely includes the following common courses;
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Intro to Medical Billing and Insurance Coding
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Disease Pathology
- Computers and Keyboard
- Electronic Medical Records
- Front Office Procedures
- Basic First Aid
- Medical Assistant office procedures
- Clinical Lab procedures
- Principles of Allied Health
- Medical Terminology
- In addition, prerequisites to these programs such as general mathematics and english courses will be required, usually completed before officially entering the training course.
After completing the program, a student will be eligible to take the Certified Medical Assistant Certification Exam. This exam will consist of 200 multiple choice questions covering a broad range of topics in healthcare, clinical, and administrative topics.
Medical Assistants will be expected to complete 60 continuing ed credits within a 60 month period to maintain their licensure. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) requires ten credit units to be administrative, ten general, ten clinical, and the remaining 30 units are allowed to be any combination of those categories.
You may choose to be trained by a physician instead, however please be aware that if you do so you cannot sit for the certification exam or obtain a license. You must have a GED or equivalent to attain a position to train with a physician without a license. It is more difficult to secure a position with a physician as a medical assistant if they have to train you, or you do not have a license to prove that you have the skills required.
That being said, it is possible, although the physicians willing to train a medical assistant are dwindling yearly due to the availability of those with licensure. You can benefit from physician training as it is on the job, and you will be paid.
You would also be able to work sooner, whereas if you seek education you will have to attend the entire program (nine months to two years) before finding employment in the field. However, you will more than likely be paid less than an individual who has a Certified Medical Assistant license.
Earning potential for OB GYN Medical Assistant
As of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual wage for medical assistants in the US is $32,850. Hourly median wage is $15.79. This occupation generally offers good benefits and steady hours. Hospitals and outpatient care centers seem to have a higher median hourly wage than other environments, but the highest earning positions include those in colleges and dental offices.
Specializing in any field will definitely make a candidate more desirable, and will produce a higher earning potential in that chosen field than a general medical assistant who may be applying for the same position. To maximize your earning potential in this field, research and attend nearby OB or GYN continuing education classes.
Use these continuing education certificates to showcase your knowledge set, as well as towards the completion of your required continuing education units.
There are many different work environments for the medical assistant. These include, ranked by number of employment opportunities high to low, the following;
- Physicians offices
- Surgical hospitals
- Outpatient care centers
- Retirement facilities
- Colleges and schools
An OB GYN medical assistant will more than likely work in a physicians office or hospital setting. They can expect to meet a highly diverse set of clients and have varied duties, as described above.
Medical Assistants are expected to perform in a professional manner at all times. Good grooming, hygiene and bearing are invaluable. Medical assistants will find it necessary to dress in business casual or scrubs in work settings. Good communication is also a work environment must, between yourself, your supervisor, and coworkers.
A medical assistant must competently accept direction, correction, advice, and occasional constructive criticism from their direct supervisor, i.e. the OB GYN doctor. They must also be able to effectively and clearly communicate results and information to patients, information to coworkers when required, and relay concise informative messages to coworkers and supervisors.
Is this career path right for you?
The ideal candidate for an OB GYN medical assistant career needs enjoy helping people and be able to multitask. The following skills are desired:
- Professional yet personable
- Self controlled
- Good listener
- Problem Solver
- Critical thinker
- Ability to follow direction
An OB GYN specialist will be handling multiple duties, ranging from administrative and billing to patient care. They must be comfortable with women, babies, pregnancy, family planning, menopause, and other gender specific issues, as well as sexual and reproductive discussions.
A medical assistant must be confident working alone and under the direction of an OB/GYN. This is not the career for everyone, as it can be hectic and stressful with multitudes of responsibilities. It is, however, a rewarding and constantly changing environment, and an OB GYN medical assistant will rarely be bored.
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