MinnyGophers

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I am really thinking of becoming a medical assistant so that I can get into the clinical side of medicine, while going to school.

Any MAs out there? I have a few questions:
Where can I get certified ( are online accredited schools okay?)? How long exactly does the program take? Are any of you also full-time students at the same time? ( is it a good idea to me a MA and go to school at same time? Or should I work during breaks/summer whatever...)
What do they get to do exactly? Do we get to interact a lot with patients?
Sorry about all these questions, but I thought that if I wanted reliable info, I'd ask my peers on SDN.
 

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MinnyGophers said:
I am really thinking of becoming a medical assistant so that I can get into the clinical side of medicine, while going to school.

Any MAs out there? I have a few questions:
Where can I get certified ( is online accredited schools okay?)? How long exactly does the program take? Are any of you also full-time students at the same time?
What do they get to do exactly? Do we get to interact a lot with patients?
Sorry about all these questions, but I thought that if I wanted reliable info, I'd ask my peers on SDN.
bump.

I would also like some information about this!
 

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ParvatiP said:
yeah, me too!
This really isn't the place to find it guys.

I highly doubt any pre-meds first pursued the MA path. From the MA's I have talked to it takes from ~9 months to a year to complete. (It may be wrong, just what I have heard). Also, you won't get that much clinical exposure, aside to taking blood pressure and weighing people and giving shots.... not too enlightening in my book. It would be much more valuable to do more shadowing.

On a side note, CNA classes are much easier and will afford similar clinical experiences. It might also be able to find a job as a CNA much quicker than as an MA in some areas.
 

braluk

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if you spend a year to get an MA license, you might as well spend an extra year and get your Physicians assistant license, and do a plethora more of clinical activities then MA
 

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braluk said:
if you spend a year to get an MA license, you might as well spend an extra year and get your Physicians assistant license, and do a plethora more of clinical activities then MA
Or do three years total and become a nurse practitioner and forego medicine all together.

I would hesitate to make any big time commitment to pursue any certification for the sake of getting in to a medical school. The value just isn't there for the time you're giving up.
 

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Hey!

Don't be so fast to discourage these guys!
I worked as an MA for a summer (intership) and many of today's MA's just get on-the-job training. Some are certified, but that implies going to school, which many of us don't really have the time to do.
So call all the clinics in your town if necessary and ask if they will be willing to take you up as an MA and train you in exchange for free labor. Just remember to always be professional when calling, offer to fax your resume, etc.
You may have to work for free for a while since you're being given training (that's what I did), but it's a great way to get to do a lot of stuff volunteers never even get to see.
Shadowing doesn't even come CLOSE to this, because you just stand there and watch. You don't get to try your skills with people and to have REAL CONTACT with the sick patients. That's what counts in my book.
I got to vital, do lab exams, assist with physicals, do sugar/blood pressure tests, and the doctors would be nice and let me go into consultations with them so I could observe. They even showed me how to do injections, even though I never got to do them.
It was a great experience!

Don't be afraid to call and ask.
 
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notdeadyet said:
Or do three years total and become a nurse practitioner and forego medicine all together.

I would hesitate to make any big time commitment to pursue any certification for the sake of getting in to a medical school. The value just isn't there for the time you're giving up.

Then should I do EMT?

To clear things up, I am not doing this just because I want to pad my applications, this is something I really have interest in. Right now I'm looking at different opportunities and am going to pick the one that fits my schedule the best.

I'm looking for opinions about it, since so many of you guys have taken part in them.
 

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See my post above. :love:
 
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Hey!

Don't be so fast to discourage these guys!
I worked as an MA for a summer (intership) and many of today's MA's just get on-the-job training. Some are certified, but that implies going to school, which many of us don't really have the time to do.
So call all the clinics in your town if necessary and ask if they will be willing to take you up as an MA and train you in exchange for free labor. Just remember to always be professional when calling, offer to fax your resume, etc.
You may have to work for free for a while since you're being given training (that's what I did), but it's a great way to get to do a lot of stuff volunteers never even get to see.
Shadowing doesn't even come CLOSE to this, because you just stand there and watch. You don't get to try your skills with people and to have REAL CONTACT with the sick patients. That's what counts in my book.
I got to vital, do lab exams, assist with physicals, do sugar/blood pressure tests, and the doctors would be nice and let me go into consultations with them so I could observe. They even showed me how to do injections, even though I never got to do them.
It was a great experience!

Don't be afraid to call and ask.
Thanks a lot for the tips! I guess that doing that during the summer would be a lot better for my schedule! There are several clinics around where I live, this is defintely something I could try. Thanks!
 

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baylormed said:
Shadowing doesn't even come CLOSE to this, because you just stand there and watch. You don't get to try your skills with people and to have REAL CONTACT with the sick patients. That's what counts in my book.
I got to vital, do lab exams, assist with physicals, do sugar/blood pressure tests, and the doctors would be nice and let me go into consultations with them so I could observe. They even showed me how to do injections, even though I never got to do them.
You can get all of the experiences you're talking about here by volunteering at a clinic, you don't need to volunteer as an MA to do so. You just volunteer.

People have a tendency to do the ER thing, which is cool, but you usually get much more experience (and lots more patient time) by volunteering at a health clinic. You can do all the things baylormed mentions above. I also run EKGs and a few other odd ball things. It's great experience.

Would I go through a course for the experience? No.
 
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notdeadyet said:
You can get all of the experiences you're talking about here by volunteering at a clinic, you don't need to volunteer as an MA to do so. You just volunteer.

People have a tendency to do the ER thing, which is cool, but you usually get much more experience (and lots more patient time) by volunteering at a health clinic. You can do all the things baylormed mentions above. I also run EKGs and a few other odd ball things. It's great experience.

Would I go through a course for the experience? No.
I don't know since most people who volunteer at a clinic/hospital around here are not doing much, since there are so many people who want in.
Things like filing, taking phone calls, and all around just standing there, aren't really a valuable use of my time.
 

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MinnyGophers said:
Then should I do EMT?
Do a search on EMT in the premed forums or look at the Pre-Hospital [EMS] link. The value and experience of an EMT gets tossed back and forth. Some love it, some find it boring. The experience depends on where you are and what sort of work you're doing. The value is debated between not very and nice to have, but everyone agrees that it's not worth doing solely for your application sake, only if you love it.

If you're just looking for patient time without getting paid, I would volunteer at a free health clinic (especially in an urban area, where you get some interesting stuff) or a hospice (where you get lots of very close patient time). I would not commit to any lengthy training time for a medical assistant if it's something you'll rarely do. And it won't give you lots of experience you won't be able to replicate by volunteering elsewhere if you look hard enough.

That said, if you're looking for paid work and you're going to do it fulltime for a while, medical assistant can be an okay job.
 

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MinnyGophers said:
Things like filing, taking phone calls, and all around just standing there, aren't really a valuable use of my time.
Yeah, that can be the experience a lot of the time working the hospital gig. Most clinic work that I've seen is hands on, but I guess it depends where you are (urban + lots of homeless = better). Here in San Francisco there's lots of hands on clinic opportunities.
 

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notdeadyet said:
You can get all of the experiences you're talking about here by volunteering at a clinic, you don't need to volunteer as an MA to do so. You just volunteer.

People have a tendency to do the ER thing, which is cool, but you usually get much more experience (and lots more patient time) by volunteering at a health clinic. You can do all the things baylormed mentions above. I also run EKGs and a few other odd ball things. It's great experience.

Would I go through a course for the experience? No.
I seriously doubt it and I disagree with you. Volunteers aren't allowed to do a lot of medical stuff, it's hospital policy.
For example, volunteers are by no way authorized to do injections, audio exams, to handle medications, to vital, etc. Not where I live.
When I volunteered, it was mostly wheeling people out of the hospital and handing cups with ice and water.

You must have an unusually good volunteer experience, but it is not common.

So try it my way.
 

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baylormed said:
Volunteers aren't allowed to do a lot of medical stuff, it's hospital policy.
Yeah, that always seems to be the way. That's why I'm recommending volunteering at a clinic, which often aren't as restrictive as hospitals.

baylormed said:
For example, volunteers are by no way authorized to do injections, audio exams, to handle medications, to vital, etc. Not where I live. When I volunteered, it was mostly wheeling people out of the hospital and handing cups with ice and water.
Bummer. Yeah it must be a regional thing. At the clinics I've worked at, we ran audio/vision exams, specimens/labs, EKGs, etc.

baylormed said:
You must have an unusually good volunteer experience, but it is not common.
It is actually. Just different than you're own. If you do a hunt around SDN, you'll find that lots of people have these sorts of experiences volunteering in clinics. I don't know too many people that didn't much prefer volunteering at clininics to hospitals. But clinics may be a different gig in Texas.

OP- If nothing else, hopefully this shows that you can get clinical experience by trying hard enough. Don't settle for a bad volunteer gig, because volunteering with great patient contact are out there if you think outside the box and try hard enough.
 

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I have worked as an MA for the past year and it has been the single most driving force for me to continue on towards medical school. I started by simply volunteering at a clinic and picked up the skills along the way. This is basically the way to go because as you're being trained, you can count it as volunteer hours and shadowing hours. Once they hired me on as a Medical Asst. I got SO much patient contact and it has been wonderful.

I do the intake of the patient [height, weight, blood pressure, temperature] and write their chief complaint in the chart. I also do EKG's, blood sugar tests, urine analysis [gross but good experience], and hematocrits. Depending on the clinic they can also train you in drawing blood, giving injections, and lots of basic clinical tasks. I think it's a great way to see how healthcare - at least Primary Care - works. Usually this kind of work is really sympathetic to going onto medical school. I was able to take time off for the MCAT and other random things.

Ask any questions!
 

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SitraAchra said:
I have worked as an MA for the past year and it has been the single most driving force for me to continue on towards medical school. I started by simply volunteering at a clinic and picked up the skills along the way.
Sitra Achra's story is a great one. If you look around for the right clinic, you can get great patient contact and develop clinical skills. If your clinic is looking to hire an MA, you definitely have a leg up when it comes to hiring.

OP-
Not sure what state you're in, but in California, MA's are not licensed/certified/registered. But to do the job, you're required as having had 10 hours of training and ten supervised injections, blood withdrawal and skin testing. By volunteering at the right clinic, you can very quickly get the necessary training and mentoring.

And also - Sitra Achra, chime in if you disagree with me on this - I find that you meet a great class of physician and nurse at the health clinics. It definitely opened my eyes. Because of my experience, my plans are to go into primary care for the underserved, which wouldn't have been the case otherwise. It's a great environment.
 

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Notdeadyet - we are completely eye to eye on this.

One day I just showed up to a community clinic with a resume and my interview consisted of one question: "Do you speak Spanish?" Luckily I did and so it was easier for me to transition into a paid role, however community clinics really need any help they can get.

I've run into mainly two kinds of doctors - those who chose community medicine and those who fell into it. The docs who choose it are incredible and make a huge difference in the patient's lives and also in the underserved community as a whole. Those who are "forced" to work there, although they are burnt out and agitated, still get the job done and provide a valuable service. Plus the patient population exposes you to many things you won't find in the private field. How to deal with an irate drug-seeking patient who is just crossing doctors of his/her list in search of norco and soma [commonly abused drugs], how to tell a 15 year old girl [sometimes younger] she is pregnant, how to convince a fussy 2 year old to let you take their temperature - all skills I picked up in the community system.

I think in Texas you don't need formal certification of any kind to work as an MA. The physician just needs to watch you perform your tasks, check off a list, and sign it. You are then practicing under his/her lisence and it's just that easy! Plus, you get a feeling of truly helping folks with real problems. I get to see people with very adavnced stages of many chronic diseses like diabetes, hypertension, CHF [congestive heart failure], and others.

Plus if you have really ANY knowledge of Spanish, just saddle up because they are in desperate need. And if you start volunteering and realize it's not for you, just stop showing up and you have all those volunteer hours and nothing is lost.
 

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I am a certified nurse's assistant. That has really helped me get tons of clinical experience!!! I got certified through a nursing home for free, worked for them part time for 6 months during school, and I loved it!!! Right now, I'm working for a Pain Clinic. Because I am a CNA, they let me run the flouroscopy (xray) and complete notes in the medical record. CNA is a good cheaper, easier path to get clinical experience than MA, although I would not discourage either.

Just another thing to add. Running the flouroscopy machine is normally a job for the MA's.
 

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Hey there.
I have been a MA for about 5 years now. I am a non-trad who has decided to persue a career as a physician. I can tell you from experience that working as an MA has given me more experience than I could have imagined. I have worked in Occupational medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics. The things I have learned from these settings and the different doctors I have worked with are essential to understanding the medical profession. Taking vitals,
giving injections, doing ekgs, and giving out meds, etc, are just scratching the surface of what you do as an MA. I have assisted the docs during traumas, minor surgeries, and codes. I have gained so much knowledge of different diseases and how doctors go about diagnosing and treating them. There is no real substitute for direct patient contact. Dealing with real people in real situations is such a learning experience. Also, working in a clinic is, I feel, even more rewarding than shadowing a doc because you see all of the behind the scenes action that docs tend to hide when they are being shadowed. It truly doesn't matter what you do, though, as long as you get that direct patient contact that is so important.
 
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notdeadyet said:
Sitra Achra's story is a great one. If you look around for the right clinic, you can get great patient contact and develop clinical skills. If your clinic is looking to hire an MA, you definitely have a leg up when it comes to hiring.

OP-
Not sure what state you're in, but in California, MA's are not licensed/certified/registered. But to do the job, you're required as having had 10 hours of training and ten supervised injections, blood withdrawal and skin testing. By volunteering at the right clinic, you can very quickly get the necessary training and mentoring.
I'm in Minnesota, and Im pretty sure they require a certification here ( at least the hospital at my university does...)
Yeah, I guess I would rather volunteer and being trained on the job rather than paying for a certification...

But I was wondering the most was whether MA/CNA/EMT are jobs that should be done when out of school?
 

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Minny - I started volunteering at a clinic my senior year of college so that when I graduated, getting a job there was a natural progression. I then worked there for a year inbetween med school applications. I guess just use your own timeline, and I suggest diving into the volunteering before worrying about what possible work schedule they can offer you. That will come later, and if you make yourself valuable to them, they will be more flexible if you're in school.
 

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MinnyGophers said:
But I was wondering the most was whether MA/CNA/EMT are jobs that should be done when out of school?
If you mean paid full-time work after graduation, yes/yes/yes.

If you mean part-time summer and winter break work, I'll turn it over to those working in the field, but I'd imagine it would be a challenge. Definitely a "no" for EMTs, since so many are college students.
 

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MinnyGophers said:
I'm in Minnesota, and Im pretty sure they require a certification here ( at least the hospital at my university does...)
Yeah, I guess I would rather volunteer and being trained on the job rather than paying for a certification...

But I was wondering the most was whether MA/CNA/EMT are jobs that should be done when out of school?

I would advise you not to do anything that will affect your work in school. If you feel that working will affect your progress in school, wait until you are out . These volunteering and work opportunities will still be around when your done.
 
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carlos5272 said:
I would advise you not to do anything that will affect your work in school. If you feel that working will affect your progress in school, wait until you are out . These volunteering and work opportunities will still be around when your done.
By done do you mean on break, or done graduating?
I doubt I will ever take time off, and if I don't get into med school the first time around, grad school is my fallback option.
So, no, I do not imagine myself working/volunteering full time as a MA/EMT/CNA.
EMT sounds like the best option for a student, but I was wondering about the others as well.
 

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SitraAchra said:
Minny - I started volunteering at a clinic my senior year of college so that when I graduated, getting a job there was a natural progression. I then worked there for a year inbetween med school applications. I guess just use your own timeline, and I suggest diving into the volunteering before worrying about what possible work schedule they can offer you. That will come later, and if you make yourself valuable to them, they will be more flexible if you're in school.

this is totally the way to go. depends on if you're planning to take time off and need a job at the same time. if you don't, you should really think about volunteering first, learning the skills, and picking up more tasks as you become more competent. i've been a MA at a small community clinic for the past year during my app cycle. the job/paid part was a total coincidence. i had volunteered there the year before, was on good terms with everyone, and they just happened to need more help at the time. all my training was on the job, but now i get to do it all - patient intake/vitals, blood draws, EKG, injections, refilling meds, chaperoning for physicals and paps, etc. etc. since it's a free clinic, they don't have nurses on staff, so it translates into more hands-on stuff for me. also, as mentioned above, having a language skill is a definite plus depending on where you are! it totally helped that i speak enough spanish and chinese, esp since our patient population includes a lot of immigrants.

so, find a *small* community clinic or free clinic in your area -they always would love extra help and usually offer more opportunities than a big, structured hospital "volunteer program", show interest, do your job well, and you'll be fine. you don't necessarily need to pay $ and spend time for an MA class, unless you'd like to work as an MA at some point, i'm sure it would help then in securing a job. if you volunteer but are never offered a position, you still get bonus points for clinical experience and volunteer work.

good luck =)
 

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I'm the "trained on the job and somebody checked off boxes that I could do everything" type of MA. I'm in Illinois, and I didn't even know until recently there was such a thing as formal training. Probably a hospital would be pickier than a private practice, like where I work.

I work during summers (and other times as needed). It can be very intense, depending on how busy the office is, so I really couldn't handle doing a full class load at the same time. I have all the patient contact I can handle, in person and on the phone, and also deal with hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, insurance authorizations, etc. The list of tasks that can be assigned to an MA is as infinite as the whims of the docs and patients. Need somebody to go look up the possible dangers of whatever random herb the patient wants to start taking? How about get the patient's results from their cardiologist given only the doctor's city and completely mispelled last name? Well it's not like the MA is busy with drawing blood and doing EKGs and returning dozens of phone calls! She'll do it! :rolleyes: I've been vomited on, bled on, fainted upon, yelled at, asked out, etc. But seriously, I feel privileged to do this as a premed, and I learn way more relevant stuff in one day of work than a year of bio and chem lectures. It's totally worth it if you have time that you're not taking classes (or at least nothing that requires much studying):thumbup:
 
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baloney said:
this is totally the way to go. depends on if you're planning to take time off and need a job at the same time. if you don't, you should really think about volunteering first, learning the skills, and picking up more tasks as you become more competent. i've been a MA at a small community clinic for the past year during my app cycle. the job/paid part was a total coincidence. i had volunteered there the year before, was on good terms with everyone, and they just happened to need more help at the time. all my training was on the job, but now i get to do it all - patient intake/vitals, blood draws, EKG, injections, refilling meds, chaperoning for physicals and paps, etc. etc. since it's a free clinic, they don't have nurses on staff, so it translates into more hands-on stuff for me. also, as mentioned above, having a language skill is a definite plus depending on where you are! it totally helped that i speak enough spanish and chinese, esp since our patient population includes a lot of immigrants.

so, find a *small* community clinic or free clinic in your area -they always would love extra help and usually offer more opportunities than a big, structured hospital "volunteer program", show interest, do your job well, and you'll be fine. you don't necessarily need to pay $ and spend time for an MA class, unless you'd like to work as an MA at some point, i'm sure it would help then in securing a job. if you volunteer but are never offered a position, you still get bonus points for clinical experience and volunteer work.

good luck =)
Thanks! Great advice, this is most probably the way I will be going. That or EMT.
Thanks everyone for the great advice in this thread!
If you have anymore tips/experiences, don't hesitate to post them as I'm sure there are many out there.
 

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I have been an MA for 5 years now. I did my 1 yr long training during high school through a program here in CA called R.O.P. (it's a vocational program that is free or really cheap). My course was only 6hrs/wk and it counted as a high school class. You do not need a formal course to be a medical assistant, at least in CA, because you generally work under the physician's license. For larger corporations, generally they require that the employee either has previous experience as a Medical Assistant or has a certificate from an MA course. For private practice they aren't as picky, however, previous experience or a certificate would make you a stronger applicant. The easiest way to get in is ask a physician if he would let you train (work for free) in his office for a few weeks to learn the skills and possibly get hired. After gaining some employment experience you may want to move on to a full hospital setting. All this without any classes! (although you should probably study a Medical Assisting book anyway)

Generally there are 2 MA divisions: Back Office and Front Office. The Back Office is what you want to do to gain clinincal exposure; you learn clinical skills such as EKG, Phlebotomy, Injections, BP, CPR, etc. The Front Office is clerical for insurance coding and such. For larger hospitals, you usually do either front office or back office; if you work for private practice they may require you to do both. There are programs through fairly expensive for-profit private colleges that offer front office and back office courses; if you take a formal course, doing both will cost you twice as much, so do only the back office if possible.

I have friends who are EMTs. You can get certified in as little as 2 wks (scary!). Unfortunately they make not much more than minimum wage (my friend was always complaining about this) but they get to see a lot of emergency trauma type stuff. There are cheap vocational courses for EMT too.

If you're starting early, are interested in a specific specialty, and have the time, look into something more specialized. Orthopedic tech programs are generally 1yr long, although the techs get paid very well and are in high demand. If you're interested in Ortho, this may be the way to go. You get to do casts, help set bones, assist in surgeries, etc. There are other specialized tech programs which pay very well too like Ultrasound tech, Radiology tech, EKG tech, ER tech, etc. Again these are usually longer programs, but if you are starting early, it is something to consider.

I worked as an MA all through undergrad for a health organization (Kaiser Permanente) with an extremely flexible schedule. Monday will be my last day because I will be moving onto med school. I am sad to leave. It really is a great job, pays well, and will give you a TON of experience, much, much more than any volunteering position.

Hope that helps; you can PM me with any questions.
 

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fewchewrmd said:
I have friends who are EMTs. You can get certified in as little as 2 wks (scary!). Unfortunately they make not much more than minimum wage (my friend was always complaining about this) but they get to see a lot of emergency trauma type stuff.
Also, to keep in mind that in many places, a lot of an EMTs life is transporting noncritical patients. Think little old ladies hooked up to 02. To get the trauma rich gigs, you either need experience or work an ER gig (which are very competitive, to what I understand).

I worked as an EMT and liked it, but it was a lot more dull than I expected. And the pay was about $7 an hour (albeit, _years_ ago).
 

mediocriskid

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I am a MA and was given my position without any certification. The trick is really getting through HR. Most clinic managers do not see it as a problem with competancy amongst premed's, only getting a minimum time commitment. I was asked point blank if i was intended on working more than a year. I mean it's really common sense, nothing worth paying a course for.
 

SitraAchra

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I dabbled in EMT myself and took a 2-month course. I passed the class but never took the actual certification exam. It was ~$400 at my community college I recall and is a really fun class. Lots of hands-on stuff and a lot of it crosses over into the MA/clinical world too like managing an oxygen tank and dressing wounds. Granted there's no "rush" the clinic like when you get dispatched to a 911 call, but EMT-Basic class forced me to learn medical annotation which is important when you work as an MA. Also, just keep askinw questions when there's an abbreviation you're not sure of and after not too long it'll all flow with you and you'll be charting like a pro!

Either option, EMT or MA, is a really valuable hands-on side of medicine that's a great entry level for a college student or recent grad. The problem that's already been mentioned is the pay scale for EMT is really low, was around $~7 last summer when I took the course. However MA's make double digits per hour which is a lot nicer, plus less "adrenaline" stress. Perhaps more "oh my god I have 4 patients to room and the doctor isn't here yet and this dude is asking me about his medicine and I have no idea" stress - but it's all good!
 
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MinnyGophers

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Wow so much exciting stuff from EMT/CNA/MA.

I'm more interested in emergency medicine, which is why I think EMT would probably be the best choice. I don't plan on it being a job, but rather an exciting volunteering experience. I already work in a research laboratory, so the pay isn't what concerns me really.

Great advice from everyone, I think I have a lot of options in front of me..... I know for sure I want the EMT certification since at least, it's a great learning experience and I could probably volunteer as much as my schedule allows me during school time.
As for the MA way, I guess the best thing to do would be to ask around for private practices/free clinics to take me under their wing, for free during the summer.
How did you guys go at that? Did you just ask your own doctor? Or did you actually just throw yourself out there?
 

notdeadyet

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MinnyGophers said:
As for the MA way, I guess the best thing to do would be to ask around for private practices/free clinics to take me under their wing, for free during the summer.
How did you guys go at that? Did you just ask your own doctor? Or did you actually just throw yourself out there?
I would target free clinics. I think you'll see much more interesting pathologies at a free clinic than a private practice. At the free clinic, you have folks coming in with all sorts of nastiness, some of it so late in the game that it's a borderline ER visit. This is because much of your clientelle is broke (or just horribly underinsured).

Also, depending on the clinic, you can get lots of homeless and drug addicts. It's very sad, but you also see all sorts of healthcare at work that you wouldn't at a private clinic. This is in addition to all the routine family practice stuff.

Just my personal preference. I'd find a free clinic more interesting from the perspective of experience. If you're looking for a full-time job for a while, I can certainly see the attraction of a private practice.
 

sistahnik

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This is a great route to gain clinical experience. I have been a Med Asst for about 7 years now and the experience has been totally rewarding. I have worked in Internal Medicne/Family Pract., Peds., Cancer Tx. Ctr with surgeons, etc. I am now in the ER which is really cool. I only listed the areas to let you see how much you can do. I went to school for 6 months and did an internship for 160 hours. Most programs that are not an associate degree type are going to be about 6-9 months and that's why I did it outside of the college setting, but had I known that I would return to school as a premed I would have did it through a college to get those general ed. req. credits. Doing this job has given me so much insight to who I am and my passion for working in the medical field. Would I have known this if I had ended up doing something else? I don't know, but I'm glad I became a medical asst. If you want to work and get clinical experience then try it. It is true that some ppl have gotten this type of job with just on the job training but I think they are mostly requiring some type of training now I'm not sure but check into it you won't regret it!! :)