Medical Assistant Programs in Georgia and Certification to Stand Out
Georgia’s medical assistants support physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners with clinical and administrative duties. They are multi-skilled – and Georgia is very specific about scope of practice. Job concentration is a little above that of most neighboring states (or of the nation as a whole). Some cities have an especially high concentration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of the ten metropolitan areas with the highest MA job concentration includes three Georgia cities.
Popular Medical Assistant Programs in Georgia
Gwinnett Technical College has been CAAHEP-accredited for more than 20 years. The school boasts a five-year examination pass rate of 96%. Students earn diplomas.
Southern Crescent Technical College (Griffin) is CAAHEP-accredited. It boasts 100% credentialing examination pass rates for 2017-2019. Here, too, students earn a diploma. The program is 54 credits.
Altierus Career College (Norcross) holds programmatic accreditation through ABHES. The program blends on-campus and online learning. Students typically spend three days a week at the campus. They receive an iPad to facilitate their access to online/ self-paced program components.
Common Medical Assistant Qualifications
While state code does not specify exactly what constitutes qualification, hiring committees typically look at formal medical assisting education, experience, and/ or professional certification.
Accrediting agencies are not necessarily all equal in the eyes of employers. However, they often note multiple acceptable certifications.
One major health system recently listed fully six certifying bodies that it considered reputable:
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- The American Registry of Medical Assistants (ARMA)
- National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- American Allied Health (AAH)
AAMA, NCCT, NHA, and AMT medical assistant certifying programs are accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies, as is the American Medical Certification Association.
Certification is dependent on experience or education as well as examination performance. Premier CMA (AAMA) certification is dependent on formal education that meets a specific set of standards.
Different medical assistant education programs may be geared toward different certifications. They may mandate a particular exam for graduation or note that examination fees for particular certification exams are included in the tuition. Some medical assistants opt for more than one certification.
Medical Assistant Educational Options
One will find programs at the certificate, diploma, and associate’s level. There are opportunities for articulation. Some short certificate programs are designed to prepare individuals for the medical front office; they may not have the same programmatic accreditation.
Some students will be eligible for the HOPE Career Grant; this program is designed to help fill jobs in industries that have experienced shortages of workers. Medical assisting diploma is on the list of eligible programs for fall 2020; so is medical assisting administrative certificate.
AAMA and AMT certifying bodies both specify that programs housed in institutionally accredited schools include at least 160 hours of practicum/ externship. One will find multiple Georgia programs that include fully 270 hours of externship.
Programs may have more interested and eligible students than they have slots for. Level of preparation can be important for determining admission. The timeframe can also be important. The process is not identical from school to school.
Medical Assistant Scope of Practice in Georgia
Georgia medical assistants may perform certain tasks that are considered medical: They can obtain vital signs, administer nebulizer treatments, change dressings, remove sutures, and give injections by subcutaneous and intramuscular routes. Direct supervision is required in many instances. Physicians are responsible for making sure their medical assistants have the requisite training to carry out the tasks they delegate. They keep records of their MA’s training. Medical assistants may carry out other tasks of the sort that don’t require licenses. Georgia schools and employers note tasks such as taking specimens and running diagnostic tests.
Top Employers in Georgia
Medical assistants work in settings like clinics, general and specialty healthcare offices, and urgent care centers. The following are among the employing healthcare organizations:
- >Piedmont Healthcare
- WellStar Medical Group
- St. Joseph’s/ Candler
- Northeast Georgia Health Systems
- Augusta University Hospital
- Northside Hospital
Medical assistants can be found in many innovative settings, some quite small. An article in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution describes a new Forsyth County Wellness Center for county employees: a place where employees could get preventive health maintenance, diseases management services, screenings and referrals. A nurse practitioner would provide services, assisted by a medical assistant.
Georgia Medical Assistant Salary and Career Outlook
Georgia’s medical assistants averaged $15.41 an hour, or $32,060 a year, in 2018. The mid-range was from $27,100 to $37,080. At the 90th percentile, the figure rose to $42,160. Georgia’s average medical assistant salary is above that of Alabama and on a par with other neighboring states.
Gainesville, Georgia had the second highest medical assistant job concentration in the nation with a location quotient of 2.58. Rome, Georgia came in at #4 with a location quotient of 2.40. Macon, meanwhile, made it to #9 with a location quotient of 2.15. The populous Atlanta-Sandy Springs metropolitan area far outdid any other metropolitan area in the state with regard to number of jobs.
The state professional organization is the Georgia State Society of Medical Assistants. It was chartered more than 60 years ago. There are eight chapters: Rome, Cobb, Hall, Lowndes, Muscogee, Thomas, Paulding County, and Central Savannah River Area.
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