How to Become a Medical Assistant in New Mexico
Due to a surge in healthcare practices and ever-changing healthcare regulations, medical assistants are becoming highly valued professionals in New Mexico.
These unique workers serve ambulatory offices and outpatient clinics in both the front end and back end by performing administrative and clinical tasks delegated by physicians.
Each medical assistant carries a unique set of skills and responsibilities based on the needs of his or her employer.
A medical assistant may answer telephones, file records, and call in prescriptions on a typical day. They may also assist a physician during exams, clean exam rooms, and take patients’ vital signs. [Leer en español]
In 2013, the Association of American Medical Assistants (AAMA) published an Occupational Analysis, which listed the top reported responsibilities of medical assistants.
The top three responsibilities were keeping the confidentiality of records, adapting communications to an individual’s understanding, and respecting diversity.
Clinical Duties of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are trained to perform both administrative and clinical duties in support of physicians and other healthcare providers.
The scope of their work may vary depending on the size, location, and specialty of the practice.
In larger practices and hospitals, medical assistants often specialize in one area or the other.
For example, some may only perform administrative duties while others may only perform clinical duties.
The following are common clinical tasks performed by medical assistants:
Vital signs: Medical assistants take patients’ blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. They also document weight and height measurements.
Injections: Many medical assistants are trained to give injections, depending on state law.
Specimen collection: Medical assistants may collect and prepare specimens for laboratory testing. This includes drawing blood, collecting urine samples, and swabbing for cultures.
EKGs: An EKG is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Medical assistants may be responsible for administering this test and recording the results.
Requirements for Becoming a Medical Assistant in New Mexico
Certification, while strongly recommended, is not a requirement for someone to be hired as a medical assistant. While the American Association Of Medical Assistants recommends that employers seek nationally certified medical assistants for hire, some medical assistants earn their skills through hands-on experience and training within healthcare settings.
At the bare minimum, medical assistants must hold a high school degree or GED. Experience in bookkeeping, healthcare volunteering, and a strong health course foundation in high school are all beneficial factors that can help uncertified medical assistants find work.
Medical Assistant Programs in New Mexico
The AAMA recommends that students who wish to become certified complete training accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The schools below can offer students a path to the widely recognized Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.
This school, located in Albuquerque, offers a nine-month Medical Assisting Diploma. It is accredited by the ABHES and offers hands-on training during classes. Brookline is unique in that it offers morning and evening classes in four-hour chunks.
Santa Fe Community College
Both a three-semester certificate and an Associate in Applied Science degree can be earned in the field of medical assisting at this Santa Fe school, which has been ABHES-accredited since 2008.
Certified Medical Assistant in New Mexico
The New Mexico Society of Medical Assistants (NMSMA) oversees the certification process for medical assistants in the state of New Mexico. The most commonly sought-after medical assistant credential is the Certified Medical Assistant because it requires an extensive scope of training and gives medical assistants precedence in securing a job.
The CMA exam contains 200 questions that must be completed in 40-minute increments. Test-takers can expect to encounter questions on professionalism, medical law and ethics, patient advocacy, medical terminology, infection control, healthcare finances, patient intake, and documentation, collection of bodily fluids, pharmacology, and first aid, among other subjects.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Medical Assistants in New Mexico
Medical assistants in New Mexico have a promising future as the job outlook is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2020 to 2030. With 7,750 medical assistants employed throughout the state in 2020 and an average of 1,150 annual job openings, there are many jobs to fill.
New Mexico medical assistants are paid above the state’s $7.50 minimum wage, with the BLS having reported a mean income of $14.79 per hour in 2021 for the field.
Medical assistants looking for incomes at the higher end of the spectrum may want to work in ambulatory, medical and surgical settings, which the AAMA reported paid higher wages than physicians’ practices and primary care settings in 2018.
Working as a Medical Assistant in New Mexico
By far, Albuquerque had the most medical assistants employed in New Mexico in 2016, according to the BLS. Albuquerque medical assistants also enjoyed the highest employment rate in the state, at 9.939 per 1,000 job openings.
The highest-paid medical assistants in 2017 were found in Santa Fe, with a mean income of $16.41 per hour.
In addition to strong pay, medical assistants often receive substantial benefits packages from their employers. For example, the AAMA found that 84 percent of medical assistants received paid vacation time from their employers in 2018. With so many benefits and such potential for career growth in the future, medical assisting is an excellent career choice for high school graduates or other healthcare workers to pursue.
Popular Medical Assistant Schools in New Mexico
How much do medical assistants earn in the state of New Mexico?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of New Mexico made an average of $30,750 per year in 2021. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $28,560 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $44,660.