Medical Assistants and COVID-19

Reviewed by AIMS Education Staff  

August 25, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted medical assistants (MAs) and their role within the healthcare sector. Today these specialists are needed more than ever due to their all-round education, comprehensive training, and versatile skill set.

Let’s see how COVID-19 affected and continues to affect the medical assistants’ community and their everyday responsibilities. Some of the topics include guidelines for MAs protection, digitizing services, AAMA extending their certifications, interviews with medical assistants working during the pandemic, volunteering opportunities, and more.

How COVID-19 Affects Medical Assistants' Practices

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Medical assistants and other allied healthcare specialists are on the frontline of the COVID-19 response measures. They regularly come in close contact with patients who may have been exposed to or are already tested positive for the virus. 

SARS-CoV-2, the strain that causes coronavirus disease, has an occasional asymptomatic transmission and is more infectious than the flu. Due to the specific nature of the virus, MAs and their patients comply with new safety measures. This has challenged the work routine and standard procedures in all healthcare environments for good.

Following the WHO Guidelines for Patient Care

To prevent the spread and reduce the risk of infections, The World Health Organization has issued COVID -19 technical guidance. It addresses different aspects of patient care during the pandemic. You can find advice for clinical management and care, quarantine measures, home care, blood supply, as well as relevant data.

Following WHO’s Guidance can ensure that medical specialists provide adequate patient care at all times and in all places. Additionally, it can educate both MAs and the general public on all relevant topics.

Taking More Safety Measures for Both MAs and Patients

Since medical assistants are often the first people to meet and examine patients, they should be even more conscious of their actions now. The usual precautions have been taken to a higher level to reduce the COVID-19 spread. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a list of universal preventative measures.  Among them, wearing masks, washing hands, keeping social distance, and measuring temperature are the most important. MAs need to change regularly their masks, gloves, and gowns to avoid contagion. In the first months of the outbreak, there was a shortage of PPE and medical supplies in some parts of the US. As a result, medical workers across the country had to rely on DIY solutions until the supplies were available again. 

Drive-throughs for coronavirus testing emerged as another precaution. They lower the risk of exposure to physicians and healthcare professionals who perform the testing. Drive-through testing has already spread across 30 states. It is another way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the delivery of medical services in the US forever.

More Medical Assistant Job Openings During the Pandemic

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The unfolding crisis has resulted in a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals to fill various positions. 

Medical Assistants Are In High Demand

Medical assistant job openings increased significantly during the coronavirus epidemic. Trained MAs are currently in high demand in all healthcare environments. Many part-time medical assistant jobs are being offered to fill in the gaps and manage the increasing workload. 

Since homebound services are now preferred more than ever, travel medical assistants are also in increasing demand. These specialists work in different locations and can provide a variety of technical, clerical, and patient care services. They come extremely helpful in nursing and care homes where most patients fall into the risk group. This helps reduce infection outbreaks in facilities for vulnerable people. Additionally, travel MAs can visit people with reduced mobility or those who can’t make it to the hospital for some reason.

To support MA professionals who are currently overwhelmed with work, organizations that provide certification examinations are offering online recertification and certificate extensions. The AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants), for example, has temporarily extended their exam eligibility for extra six months to allow extra time for candidates to prepare and sit for their CMA (AAMA) Certification Exam. Those with certifications expiring August 31, 2020, through November 30, 2020, will receive an extension until December 31, 2020. 

Medical Assistant Volunteer Jobs

Even those with no medical background or experience can contribute by volunteering as MAs. What’s more, a volunteer job is ideal for someone considering medical assistant training. Volunteering is a real-life test that will help one decide if a career as a medical assistant is the right choice. 

Covid-19 Frontline Stories from Medical Assistants

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Due to the pandemic, many college grads had to jump into the deep and shared how they felt about it. Young medical assistants all across the US are truly making a difference. News releases about an MA on the frontline in Bloomfield give us a glimpse into their new work routine. The healthcare worker is very modest about her immense contribution as she didn’t even give it a second thought. And she is not the only one. 

The urgent care of Connecticut opened one of the state’s first mobile COVID-19 testing sites. Medical assistants have been testing thousands of people during the past months. Their example has a ripple effect and encourages other professionals to keep going and help manage the pandemic.

The Medical Assistants' Community Goes Digital

Medical communities are also trying to adjust to the situation. They are implementing new systems and tools that allow them to perform their duties remotely. For instance, The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) now offers an online option for certification. AAMA also reached out to the community with a message of hope, love, and support to all medical assistants. 

Here at AIMS, we switched to distance learning and online theory instruction in response to COVID-19. In addition, we now offer virtual school visits and enrollment. All prospective students can participate in this interactive experience and also bring up relevant questions. 

Becoming a Medical Assistant Can Save Lives

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Now that you know about the current trends in the field of medical assistance, you can see how valuable their contribution to the US healthcare system is. Their dedication, versatility, and resilience make them as important as doctors during the pandemic

MAs now need to check patients online. They have to manage the increased amount of paperwork and also perform COVID-19 tests at various locations. The role of medical assistants and all allied healthcare workers has now become not only invaluable but truly lifesaving.

Medical Assistant Requirements

The minimum admission requirement for a medical assistant is a high school diploma and a passing score on the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam.

Medical Assistant Programs

A medical assistant training program is a good choice for people who want to become multiskilled healthcare professionals. Only after 1 year of studies and practice, you will be qualified for a variety of entry-level roles in physicians' offices, hospitals, pediatric practices, and other facilities. 

Another thing that makes MA a great career choice is the promising job outlook. Employment in the field is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest-growing occupations over the next decade.

To become a medical assistant, you need to complete 635 hours of classroom and lab instruction followed by 200 hours of clinical internship. Upon successful completion of your medical assistant training, graduates will be eligible to take the relevant medical assistant certification examinations. 

Is a career as an MA right for you? If you still haven’t made up your mind, explore these 20 reasons to become a medical assistant.