How to Become a Medical Assistant in Pennsylvania

Medical assistants play a valuable role in allied health teams because of their cross-training across the healthcare office. Versatility is key to this role, as medical assistants may assist with clinical duties such as patient triage and instructing patients about medications, or administrative duties like medical billing and arranging hospital admissions. The difference between medical assistants and physicians’ assistants is that medical assistants work under the direct supervision of doctors, while physicians’ assistants examine, diagnose and treat patients under a contract with a doctor, who need not directly supervise.[Leer en español]
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According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), about 91 percent of medical assistants work full-time , while nine percent work on a part-time basis. Furthermore, 95 percent of medical assistants worked in physicians’ office settings in 2018.

Requirements for Becoming a Medical Assistant in Pennsylvania

Medical assistants should be able to work long hours on their feet, have communication skills and understand the risk of disease due to working in healthcare settings. While no certification for medical assistants is required by the state, hiring physicians are held responsible for the competence of the medical assistants to whom they delegate tasks. For this reason, doctors are more likely to hire those with a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.

Medical Assistant Training and Educational Programs in Pennsylvania

Those who complete accredited training must show the ability to communicate effectively. Important qualities that are taught in accredited CMA programs include listening skills, empathy in communication and respect for diversity. The Pennsylvania schools below offer medical assistant training programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • Bidwell Training Center. Located in Pittsburgh, this career school offers a nine-month medical assistant diploma program and boasts an 80 percent retention rate. Upon receipt of the Medical Assisting Diploma and CMA certification, 78 percent of graduates are able to find jobs.
  • YTI Career Institute. Graduates of the 21-week program at this school receive an Associate in Specialized Technology degree. A unique aspect of this school’s program is the inclusion of a 12-week externship within medical facilities, to give students hands-on training. Pennsylvania students can train to be a medical assistant on the Lancaster and York campuses.

Certification for Becoming a Medical Assistant in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Society of Medical Assistants oversees the profession of medical assisting within Pennsylvania. While there are many certifications that medical assistants can acquire, the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) is the only medical assistant certification program that requires applicants to demonstrate CPR ability, graduate from an accredited program and continue practice for recertification eligibility. To gain even more recognition in the field, medical assistants may pursue further certification on top of their CMA. Other types of certification include the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Medical Assistants in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is the fifth most populated state in the U.S., so it makes sense that it’s a hotspot for medical assistant jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there were about 26,930 medical assistant jobs in the state in 2016, and that number is projected to grow by 21.9 percent by 2026. The reported mean income for Pennsylvania medical assistants in 2017 was $15.38 per hour, which is more than double Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Working as a Medical Assistant in Pennsylvania

Highly populated cities have more patients requiring care and, thus, more healthcare settings requiring medical assistants. By far, the most employed medical assistants in Pennsylvania are in Philadelphia, which employed 14,240 medical assistants in 2017. Altoona and Chambersburg-Waynesboro had the highest percentage of employed medical assistants per 1,000 job openings in that same year. Medical assistants located in Montgomery, Bucks and Chester Counties reported the highest earnings among other areas in the state.

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How much do medical assistants earn in the state of Pennsylvania?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Pennsylvania made an average of $33,490 per year in 2019. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $25,560 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $42,830.

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