Medical Assisting programs in Virginia

Virginia  Medical Assisting

Doctors and nurses typically rely on medical assistants to keep the clinic running smoothly and efficiently. Regardless of the type of employer a medical assistant works for or the size of the medical practice, medical assistants play a huge role in keeping everything organized for the physician. They should not be confused with the role of physician assistants because these allied health professionals help doctors diagnose and treat patients, whereas medical assistants are involved in the back end of the medical industry.

If your goal is to become a medical assistant, then you should ready yourself on the various tasks that might be assigned to you, including acting as receptionist, updating patients' medical records, processing insurance forms, keeping track of office supplies, scheduling hospital admissions, and responding to queries regarding billing and claims. On the clinical side, some of your tasks might include assisting the doctor during patient examinations, taking patients' vital signs, drawing blood and preparing specimens for laboratory work, performing basic lab tests, and sterilizing medical instruments.

Pathways to Becoming a Medical Assistant in Virginia

Training programs for medical assistants are available in local colleges or universities and can last from nine months (certificate in medical assisting) to two years (associate's degree in medical assisting). The coursework typically involves:

  • Medical billing, coding, and insurance processing
  • Patient records management
  • Preparing and administering medications
  • Taking x-rays and performing electrocardiograms (ECG's)
  • Performing basic laboratory tests, etc.

A huge portion of the program is dedicated on lecture, while the rest of the program is spent doing clinical studies, internship or externship in healthcare settings.

The type of program you choose will dictate what jobs you can apply for, for example a "Medical Administrative Assistant" program will equip you with the administrative skills and knowledge whereas as a clinical medical assistant program is a more well rounded and covers both clinical and administrative skills.

Medical Assistant Schools in Virginia

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Is Certification Required to Work as a Medical Assistant?

Certification is a voluntary process. However as a certified medical assistant, you market yourself as someone who has the skills and qualifications to perform the responsibilities of a medical assistant. This gives you the upper hand when it comes to negotiating your salary and better job opportunities. While non-certified medical assistants can still find employment as medical assistants, the salary and benefits tend to be lower than the more credentialed practitioners. A certification also implies that you are passionate and serious about your career as a medical assistant.

Virginia Salaries for Medical Assistants

Table 1 Salary Data Source: America's Career InfoNet
Level of Experience Hourly Rate Annual Salary
Entry-Level Wage
Median Wage
Experienced Wage

In Virginia, experienced medical assistants earn an average of $42,000 annually, making them one of the best-paid medical assistants across the nation. Although new practitioners earn around $22,000 per annum, there are lots of opportunities to increase their take home pay, such as working on night shifts or weekends and working extra hours for overtime pay.

In addition, if medical assistants will continually grow themselves and specialize in specific fields of interest, they can also find employment in related health sectors such as podiatry, optometry, and ophthalmology.

*As the Bureau of Labor Statistics claim, the medical assisting field is one of the strongest and emerging fields in the medical industry. As long as there is advancement in technology, doctors shifting their focus from administrative tasks to performing their roles as primary healthcare providers, and an aging population, the role of medical assistants will continually evolve and demand for medical assistants will always be high.

* US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition: Medical Assistants., website last visited on November 1, 2012.
America's CareerInfoNet, website last visited November 02, 2012

Medical Assistant Programs by State

Alabama Georgia Maine Nevada Pennsylvania Washinton
Alaska Hawaii Maryland New Hampshire Rhode Island West Virginia
Arizona Idaho Massachusetts New Jersey South Carolina Wisconsin
Arkansas Illinois Michigan New York South Dakota Wyoming
California Indiana Minnesota North Carolina Tennessee  
Colorado Iowa Mississippi North Dakota Texas  
Connecticut Kansas Missouri Ohio Utah  
Delaware Kentucky Montana Oklahoma Virginia  
Florida Louisiana Nebraska Oregon Vermont