Quality health care requires much more than a physician's care. In addition to nurses, a wide range of health care professionals are needed to perform daily care for patients and complete administrative tasks. These workers, which can include medical assistants, nursing assistants, and orderlies, are the life blood of any health care establishment since many of the services they provide are crucial for patient and customer health. Health care assisting schools prepare these professionals with the skills required to undertake these important tasks.
Health care assisting specializations
The health care industry is comprised of many jobs that deal with both patient care and the administrative functions of health care establishments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following specializations are some of the most popular:
- Nursing assistants provide hands-on care to patients in a wide range of health care facilities, administer medicine, serve meals, bathe, toilet, and dress patients and residents.
- Orderlies transport patients to different parts of a health care facility, clean and maintain equipment.
- Administrative medical assistants answer phones in medical offices, schedule appointments, and perform data entry for patients.
- Clinical medical assistants perform basic patient care, sterilize instruments, organize supplies, and perform lab tests under the supervision of a doctor or nurse.
Health care assisting certifications and degrees
Health care assisting careers each come with their own set of educational requirements. For example, the BLS reports that most orderlies need only a high school diploma to start off their career, but nursing assistants usually need to complete a state-approved education program and pass their state's competency exam. Meanwhile, medical assistants usually learn their trade by earning a certificate of completion in an accredited medical assisting program. For all of these careers, courses included in the curriculum include anatomy and physiology, English, and the basic principles of nursing.
According to the BLS, programs geared to nursing assistants and medical assistants can be found at community colleges, trade schools, and vocational and technical schools. The BLS reports that, while certification may not be a requirement, many employers prefer to hire health care assistants that are certified.
Health care assisting salary and career outlook
The health care industry has experienced quite a bit of growth over the last few decades, but many experts say the expansion isn't over yet. As a result, many health care assisting careers are expected to add thousands of workers over the next decade. Specifically, the BLS projects that employment for medical assistants will surge 29 percent nationwide from 2012 to 2022, and that jobs for all healthcare support occupations will increase 23 percent nationwide. Meanwhile, numbers show that jobs for nursing assistants and orderlies are expected to increase 21 percent in the U.S. during the same timeframe.
Although exceptional growth is predicted on a national level, Projections Central reports that the following states will see even larger increases in employment from 2012 to 2022.
- Georgia: 49.9%
- Virginia: 39.9%
- Utah: 39.7%
- Kentucky: 37%
- Arizona: 36.7%
- Utah: 37.5%
- Virginia: 28.6%
- Texas; 28.2%
- Arizona: 26.8%
- North Carolina: 26.6%
In addition to good job prospects, workers in this field can also expect fair pay. According to the BLS, nursing assistants earned an annual mean wage of $26,020 nationally in 2013. Orderlies also fared similarly with a national mean wage of $26,340. Medical assistants earned slightly more with an annual mean wage of $30,780 nationally in 2013.
Jobs in the health care industry continue to show excellent opportunity for growth and relatively high wages. If you want to get started in a field with plenty of room to expand, look into health care assisting schools and get started today.
May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#31-0000
Medical Assistants, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-1
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nursing-assistants.htm#tab-1
Projections Central, Long-Term Occupational Projections, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm