Medical assistants play a very valuable role, but they are NOT nurses !
Medical assistants play a very valuable
role, but they are NOT nurses !

How Can a Medical Assistant Advance Her Career?

If you’re right out of medical assisting school, you’re likely to join the workforce as an entry-level CMA. Gaining experience, becoming proficient in skills and widening your medical knowledge base are all tools you’ll need to advance in your career as a medical assistant. You may decide to aim for a management job, work in a competitive area of medicine or go into teaching. No matter your goals for career advancement, a few extra tools may help you successfully work toward advancement opportunities.

What Advancement Opportunities Might Be Available?

Medical assistants may find career advancement opportunities in many areas:

  • Clinical team leader
  • Lead medical assistant
  • Medical office manager
  • Clinical office manager
  • Medical assistant instructor
  • Medical records manager
  • Healthcare administration
  • Executive medical office secretary
  • Transcription supervisor

Be open with your employer about your desire to advance in your career. Seek opportunities that are available in your organization and find out what requirements you need to apply.

Choose a Specialty

No matter if you work in medical administration or clinical practice, choosing a specialty can be a wise choice for future career advancement opportunities. Some medical specialties require more knowledge and skills than others and may offer opportunities for better pay and extended responsibilities.

Clinical fields like podiatry, pediatrics and ophthalmology, cardiology and emergency medicine are specialties that require advanced knowledge and skill ability. Podiatric medical assistants are specially trained to assist a podiatrist in the care of feet. Duties might include making foot castings for orthotics, helping with surgical procedures, casting, wound care and splinting. Ophthalmic medical assistants administer eye tests and assist the physician with eye care procedure. Pediatrics requires knowledge of childhood diseases, immunizations and routine well-child care, while cardiology may require you to perform cardiac tests, be familiar with routine cardiac medications, emergency procedures and more.

Medical specialties like these can be demanding and have a higher learning curve. Because of the demands, employers may have a harder time finding qualified medical assistants to fill open positions. If you’re currently working in an entry-level medical assistant position, moving into a medical specialty may offer better opportunities. The longer you work in a specialty practice that you enjoy, the more valuable your skills and knowledge will become to your employer.

Article Written by Elizabeth Otto

Elizabeth Otto is a freelance writer specializing in medical and health articles. Otto has worked as a certified medical assistant in specialty practice since 1994 and is also a nationally registered emergency medical technician.

8 Responses to “How Can a Medical Assistant Advance Her Career?”
  1. Wilson Lin says:

    I am currently a Medical Assistant at a Cancer Institute. I just got out of school not too long ago and did not take the certification exam. I am finishing up my provisionary period at my workplace. I enjoy what I do but it gets really stressful and tiring because of the management here. Being an MA is a stepping stone for me only and I would like to advance in my career. What do you suggest me going for? I only have a certificate in MA and no degree. I don’t want to go to school for a long period of time. Is there any specialty field I can go to school for and focus on? Thanks for your input. -Wilson Lin

  2. Ernest Clark says:

    Hello Wilson Lin,

    I am a registered medical assistant. I have been a medical assistant for two years. If you want to get into the health care administrative field, you must get your bachelors or masters degree in health care administration. You will probably do this best by taking online classes. Most medical assistants have hectic work schedules. Going to traditional classes after work is difficult due to our work schedule. The main thing you must do along with getting your degree is to network. Networking is needed in order to get your resume in front of the right person. Do not let your employer know that you are thinking about leaving. Once you become extremely proficient, most employers do not wish to let their medical assistants advance. They will keep you at your position to keep the clinic running smoothly. You may also think about getting certified in phlebotomy. This will help you get jobs with companies like Quest or LabCorp. They pay medical assistants more than most clinics and hospitals. I do not mean to sound negative. However, medical assistant is not a good field for ambitious people. Of course, doctors will tell it is a good field, because they need us more than we need them. I have been held back, and I am a little frustrated. I hope that you have better luck. I will complete my masters degree in health care administration by this Christmas. I wish you the best.

    • Estefany Isidoro says:

      Hello I graduated from San Joaquin Valley College in 2010 as a medical assistant I have my associates degree I didn’t think I wanted to do anything with it after I graduated so I put it aside but now I would like to go back to school but I would like to know how to start I’m just part time where I work and would like to get back into the medical field.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hello my name is Elizabeth and i went to UEI college and right after i worked for about 2 months and then i was let go because it was slow and i was the last to get hired…after i looked but ever place i applied wanted me to have 6 months to 1 year experience and now its been almost 2 years but i want to go back to the medical field..any sugestions..

  4. Rebecca says:

    hi im an extremely exhausted and tired of being an RMA its not what i thought it would be, yes i have a very hectic schedule no time for my daughters sports activities and i kind of resent that now. i graduate w/my RMA diploma in 2010 and have been working since, currently in an OBGYN office and when i tell you this monster is of a different color believe me, who knew how crazy it can be. I know the work and can do it in my sleep. as of late ive been helping out our new office administrator (we have had 4 in past year and a half if that tells you anything). Anyways was considering the phlebotomy certification and or going for a bachelors in health care administration i much enjoy that more. any suggestion on how to go about it? do you recommend any specific website i can go about it since i cannot physically attend a school, i can certainly do it online. PLEASE HELP. S.O.S.

    • RMAmanager says:


      I have been an RMA since 2005 and worked in family practice, peds and obgyne in the past. I am now taking on classes to get my bachelors in healthcare management. I do enjoy working with patients so I hope I can find a position that would allow me to work on the floor as a medical assistant as needed.

      To make the story short, there are nursing school that will accept transfer credits from the medical assistant program. Check your local nursing program to get your transcripts evaluated. I was looking into become a nurse as well but me being an organizational and critical thinker with leader tendencies the role of a manager or clinical coordinator would fit me best.

      Good luck!!!

  5. Lavon says:

    I took the test to become a registered medical assistant and passed it. I am now a RMA and I would like to further my education to become a registered nurse….What can I do next?

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