Updated March 3, 2024
Healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. financial system. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 14.7 million people aged 16 and older were employed in healthcare occupations, and about 8 in 10 workers were women.
When it comes to pursuing a career in the healthcare industry, aspiring professionals often find themselves at a crossroads, torn between different paths that offer unique opportunities and challenges. Two of the most prominent options are becoming a Medical Assistant or entering the world of Medical Billing and Coding.
Each of these fields holds a vital role in healthcare, but they differ significantly. In this blog, we will explore both career options considering various aspects allowing you to make an informed decision about which path suits you best.
Medical assistants are on the front lines of patient care. They work closely with physicians and nurses, performing a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks. On a typical day, a medical assistant may take patients' vital signs, prepare them for examinations, administer injections or medications (depending on state regulations), and assist with minor surgical procedures. They are also responsible for maintaining patient records, scheduling appointments, and handling administrative tasks such as billing and coding.
On the other hand, professionals in medical billing and coding jobs have a more behind-the-scenes role in healthcare. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that healthcare providers receive accurate and timely payments for their services. They translate medical procedures, diagnoses, and treatments into universally recognized codes for insurance purposes. This role requires a keen eye for detail and a strong understanding of medical terminology and coding guidelines.
Medical assistants typically work in a clinical setting, such as a hospital, physician's office, or outpatient care center. They spend their days interacting directly with patients and healthcare providers, which can be both rewarding and demanding. The environment can be fast-paced, and medical assistants must be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances and patient needs.
The healthcare industry has increasingly embraced remote work, and medical billing and coding is no exception. Many employers now offer remote positions, allowing professionals to work from the comfort of their homes. Their work is largely independent and involves reviewing medical records, invoices, and insurance claims. This flexibility can be particularly appealing to those seeking a work-life balance.
Medical assistants have extensive patient interactions as they are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking medical care. This aspect of the job can be personally rewarding as it allows for direct patient care and the opportunity to build relationships with patients over time. However, it also means dealing with various emotions and challenges that patients may face.
Professionals in medical billing and coding have minimal patient interactions, as their work primarily involves paperwork and coding tasks. While this can be less emotionally demanding, it may lack the personal fulfillment that comes from direct patient care. The focus is on ensuring the financial aspects of healthcare run smoothly.
At a personal level, medical assistants have opportunities for growth by specializing in specific areas of medicine, such as pediatrics or cardiology. They can also pursue further education to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs), opening up even more career options. On a national level, the demand for medical assistants is expected to grow as the population ages and healthcare facilities and services expand, making it a relatively stable career choice.
In the field of medical billing and coding, personal growth opportunities may involve obtaining certifications in specialized coding systems or pursuing supervisory roles within healthcare organizations. On a national level, the demand for medical billing and coding professionals is also projected to increase, driven by changes in healthcare regulations and the need for accurate billing and insurance claims processing.
In both fields, getting a certification is a vital step in succeeding in your career path which brings us to the next section of our blog.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2021, the median annual wage for medical assistants was $35,850. The salary can vary based on factors such as location, experience, and the type of healthcare facility.
According to the BLS, as of 2021, the median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians (which includes medical billing and coding specialists) was $44,090. The point is when we’re choosing between a medical assistant or medical billing and coding technician, a lot of factors come into account, and thus, there’s no one right answer.
Certification is a pivotal step in solidifying your career path in both medical assisting and medical billing and coding. It serves as a testament to your expertise and commitment, opening doors to better job prospects and increasing credibility within the healthcare industry. Let’s see how could you get certifications in medical assisting and medical billing and coding:
Medical Assisting: Look for accredited medical assisting programs offered by community colleges, vocational schools, or online institutions. Ensure that the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Medical Billing and Coding: Similarly, seek accredited programs for becoming a medical billing and coding specialist. These programs can also be found at community colleges, vocational schools, or online institutions.
Enroll in the chosen program and complete all the required coursework, which typically includes classes in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, healthcare laws and ethics, and specific skills related to both fields.
Many programs include a clinical or practical component for Medical Assisting to provide you with hands-on experience. For Medical Billing and Coding, internships or practical experience may also be part of the curriculum.
Medical Assisting: After completing your program, you can prepare for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam by American Medical Technologists (AMT).
Medical Billing and Coding: You can prepare for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Schedule and take the certification exam for your chosen field. These exams typically consist of multiple-choice questions and may require a certain passing score to obtain certification.
TN Professional Training Institute ( TNPTI ) offers training programs in Medical Assisting and Medical Billing and Coding. You could enroll in your preferred course and start your certification journey right away. Check out our entire schedule, learning objectives, and goals for both courses on our website, and get started today!
Are you ready to embark on a journey towards a rewarding career in healthcare? Finding the right medical assisting or medical billing & coding courses could be a daunting task since there are so many options to choose from.
Whether you're interested in medical billing and coding or becoming a Clinical Medical Office Assistant, TNPTI is here to guide you every step of the way. Tennessee Professional Training Institute offers courses in Certified Medical Office Assistant and Medical Billing and Coding Specialists. Our programs equip you with the skills and certification needed for success in these high-demand fields.
All of our courses come with flexible schedules, including evening and weekend classes, to keep you advancing your career while keeping your current obligations. We also provide affordable payment plans and help you get tuition assistance, so that the financial burden does not hold you back in pursuing your dreams.
The time to take action is now. Call us at (615) 631-8440 to enroll in our comprehensive programs. Don't miss this opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need for your success. Your future in the healthcare industry awaits!