Interested in women’s health? Want to become a medical assistant? Good news: You’re looking into a very lucrative, growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for medical assistants is very positive, with a projected 23% growth rate in the industry.
Medical assistants may work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings. OB GYN medical assistants, in particular, play part in offering specialized care in women’s health in these medical settings. And in this article, not only are we going to provide you with the many OB GYN medical assistant duties one would need to perform on the job, but we’ll also give you insight into how you can best succeed in this challenging field.
What is an OB GYN Medical Assistant?
Specializing in a particular field such as obstetrics and gynecology (OB GYN) offers medical assistants the opportunity to diversify their skill sets and gain specific knowledge in a medical field in addition to any in-school medical assistant training. OB GYN medical assistants help OB GYNs, Nurse Practitioners and Midwives with the clinical and administrative duties essential to running a successful medical practice or in operating in any other clinical or hospital setting.
Obstetrics and gynecology focuses on women’s health, and OB GYNs play a vital role in helping women navigate women’s health issues such as pregnancy management, breast cancer counseling and detection, or transitioning into menopause.
A majority of medical assistants, including those who work in the OB GYN field, are employed by private physician practices. When working in a doctor’s office, medical assistants may help only one doctor or they may help process the administrative and clinical duties of a number of physicians in the practice.
In a hospital setting, which is the second most likely place where a medical assistant may work, medical assistants may assist a rotating roster of physicians. There may be one or more doctors “on call” in the hospital, and that doctor may be on call for several days in a row before being replaced by a different on-call physician.
Expected OB GYN Medical Assistant Duties
OB GYN medical assistants can be expected to perform clinical and administrative tasks. Medical assistants are considered to be one of the most versatile of the medical professionals, as they are required and able to perform clerical duties and minor medical procedures.
Administrative tasks include:
- Scheduling appointments
- Patient follow-up for test results and more
- Filing paperwork and medical records
- Processing insurance forms and preparing financial records
- Answering phones and routing calls to the appropriate staff member
OB GYN medical assistants may also be required to check logs and equipment for exam and stock rooms — for instance, sample rooms with medications may need to be maintained by the medical assistant.
Some clinical tasks include preparing patients for their appointments and examinations by taking their vital signs such as temperature, weight and blood pressure. OB GYN medical assistants also assist with moving patients through the practice and into their appropriate rooms and gaining accurate documentation of patient history.
Patient history may include listing any current or past medications, health history or the number of pregnancies and live births. In some cases, the OB GYN medical assistant may give injections or take blood samples from patients, depending on state law.
What Education is Required?
Although a high school diploma is the basic requirement to enter the field, in order to be a competitive candidate for many OB GYN medical assistant positions, some employers require medical assistant training and certification. In most cases, medical assistant training results in a post-secondary non-degree award such as a medical assistant certificate.
States generally don’t require a license or certificate to become a medical assistant, but it can help give job-seekers a competitive edge when applying for positions. There isn’t a particular course of study or certification specific to obstetrics and gynecology medical assisting, however, courses in mathematics, anatomy and physiology and medical terminology can be useful in your career.
According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, people seeking to become a medical assistant should attend a medical assisting program that is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Additionally, medical assistants with at least five years of experience as a medical assistant or those who have also completed an accredited medical assisting program can become registered medical assistants by gaining certification through the American Medical Technologists organization. There are four ways to gaining certification through this governing body, and regardless of the route, applicants must sit for and pass the appropriate AMT exam.
Obtaining medical assisting training and seeking to become certified shows to employers you have received the highest standard in your educational and professional journey. Attending a program after high school and before seeking certification is a great way to achieve this goal.
Medical assistant programs are usually 6- to 24-months long. Some programs only offer a certificate of completion, but some longer programs grant an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in the field.
Computer training is important when planning to become an OBGYN medical assistant. Numerous doctors have transitioned from paper records to digital records, and many practices and hospitals are connected and run on computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and electronic health records (EHR).
Electronic health records are sometimes connected to a patient portal, in which patients can see their test results, review patient records and read visit summaries. Additionally, they may be able to communicate with their healthcare providers via messages through these patient portals. As a medical assistant in an OB GYN practice, it may be your job to route and respond to these messages.
How much does an OB GYN medical assistant make?
What a medical assistant can expect to earn varies based on a number of factors. Years of experience, geographic region, the type of facility they are employed by and the specialty of the medical assistant are some of these factors. According to Payscale, the average registered medical assistant who has experience in obstetrics and gynecology earns around $14.64 per hour. The average medical assistant salary was $31,540 in May 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They can earn the most in outpatient care centers and typically earn the least in physician offices.
Outpatient care centers, sometimes referred to as ambulatory care centers, focuses on outpatient services and procedures. This often includes procedures that fall under the classification of day surgery. As a medical assistant, some procedures that you might see in an outpatient care center include biopsies and minor surgeries. Most OBGYN medical assistants, however, work in the offices of OB GYNs.
Normally, medical assistants work full-time with a 40-hour work week. Oftentimes, they work weekends, evenings or holidays. They can be hourly or salary, and depending on the setting in which they work, medical assistants can have opportunities for overtime pay. Many positions also include benefits such as retirement savings plans like 401k, health insurance, life insurance and sometimes bonuses and profit sharing.
How to succeed
In order to succeed as an OB GYN medical assistant, most employers seek someone who is tech-savvy, organized and compassionate. Women’s health is a field that requires a certain level of empathy and a kind bed-side manner. Additionally, you should be able to operate under stress, communicate effectively and be able to confidently approach a high volume of patients navigating the physician’s practice.
A word about patient confidentiality: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, often referred to as HIPAA, set in place a number of strict regulations that protect the privacy and security of certain health information. HIPAA is broken into privacy and security rules, and it’s important that all staff in doctor’s offices and hospitals are vigilant in protecting patient information in order to avoid HIPAA non-compliance. To be a successful medical assistant, you should be familiar with the limitations put in place by HIPAA in regards to patient confidentiality.
Being successful as a medical assistant comes down to personality and your ability to organize your time. If you can handle working in a somewhat stressful environment with a high amount of foot traffic, be it in a doctor’s office, hospital setting or outpatient clinic, you’re halfway there. If you also have a particular interest or passion for helping women meet their specific health goals and concerns, focusing your medical assistant experience in the field of obstetrics and gynecology may be a good career move.
The medical assistant industry is growing steadily – 23% growth is expected in this decade alone. While many medical assistants consider themselves to be generalists, specializing in a particular field such as obstetrics and gynecology increases your potential to earn more money and focus your career. Many of the daily tasks overlap with general medical assistant work, but many OB GYN medical assistants find that specializing offers them a greater sense of reward in their careers. Regardless of your choice of specialization, if you’re looking to enter the field of medical assisting, you’re making a solid, secure investment into your future and your career.