How to Become a Medical Assistant in Tennessee

In the U.S., medical assistants are in demand largely because of the aging population. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics(BLS) estimates an employment increase of 23 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is more than the national average of seven percent for all jobs. The number of medical assistant jobs in Tennessee in the next several years is expected to exceed the national average.[Leer en español]
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A medical assistant’s duties involve direct patient support, tracking, coordination, scheduling and follow-up. They may, for example, help doctors prepare for examinations, use specialized computer programs for patient care and tracking, manage insurance processing, change dressings, take blood samples, update patient records, and interview and inform patients. Larger practices, hospitals and other specialized clinics sometimes require medical assistants to have specific training, for instance to work in a lab drawing blood or operate specialized machines.

Requirements for Becoming a Medical Assistant in Tennessee

Medical assistants in Tennessee do not require certification, but most employers look for professionals with at least a diploma or certificate from a recognized and accredited institution. In order to stay competitive, it’s recommended that medical assistants get certified by a recognized body, as well as join professional associations after their education is completed.

Medical Assistant Classes and Educational Programs in Tennessee

When it comes to medical assistant training in Tennessee, individuals have more than 20 institutions to choose from and many are located in urban centers. Here are a few examples of schools which offer ABHES- or CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant diploma programs.
  • The Fortis Institute medical assisting program is offered out of Nashville. This diploma program can be completed in less than two years and offers externships.
  • Chattanooga State Community College offers a medical assistant program diploma. The program offers training via flexible scheduling and has a high job placement rate. Graduates of the initial diploma (1,290 hours) may use those credits toward an associate’s degree in applied technology.
  • Miller-Motte Technical College’s medical assisting program is offered via campuses in Chattanooga. This 72-week diploma also includes an externship.

Certification for Becoming a Medical Assistant

Medical assistant job training and employment is readily available in the state of Tennessee, which meets national standards and the same standards as those of most states for certification. Typically, a medical assistant would undergo a general degree or diploma program, and then complete an exam to qualify them for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) status. They would also get some experience in the field both during their regular educational training (as a practicum). In some cases, work experience may be satisfactory to fulfill the prerequisite for certification exams. To take the CMA exam, one must be a recent graduate or almost finished from a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools(ABHES) accredited program. Each type of license requires regular updating. For more information about becoming a registered medical assistant in Tennessee and about ongoing training and certification updates, contact the Tennessee Society Of Medical Assistants.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Tennessee

Medical assistant jobs are plentiful in Tennessee, and this trend is expected to continue, with 2,190 annual job openings expected on average. As of 2016, there were more than 14,000 medical assistants employed in the state of Tennessee, and that number is expected to grow 30.4 percent to 18,860 by 2026. This percent growth change is one of the best in the country and is even slightly higher than the national average. Medical assistant salary levels in Tennessee are some of the highest in the country, with professionals earning $15.14 per hour or $31,490 per year on average.

Working as a Medical Assistant in Tennessee

Medical assistants are responsible for a variety of tasks in all healthcare settings. They typically work under the direct supervision of licensed medical practitioners such as doctors and nurses, but may also be responsible for administrative duties and as such would be working under administrative supervisors. Medical assistants have high-pressure, high responsibility and high variety jobs, which require a patient, diplomatic and empathetic disposition. Medical assistants must also be clear and accurate communicators on every level and understand how to use medical technology. There are many advantages to having medical assistant training. Not only is it an extremely versatile profession, certified medical assistants can take their skills to any state. This career may open up to more specialized training of specific interest, such as optometry or podiatry, with further education. Tennessee has an extremely high demand for this field. Many jobs in clinics, hospitals, physician’s offices, care homes and other medical and support settings will be available well into the future.

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

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Tennessee made an average of $33,610 per year in 2019. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $24,640 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $44,840.

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