If you love kids and you're looking for a job in the healthcare field, becoming a pediatric medical assistant might be right for you. Depending on your training and the size of the practice, medical assistant duties can include both administrative and clinical tasks. You may also specialize in one or the other. Pediatric medical careers can be both challenging and rewarding. When working with children, you can expect the unexpected.
A medical assistant’s administrative responsibilities include establishing, updating and organizing patient files and medical records; filling out and submitting insurance forms; arranging for referrals, laboratory services and hospital admissions; and completing general administrative work such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, greeting patients and handling billing and bookkeeping tasks. In a pediatric setting, the administrative medical assistant interacts with the minor’s parents or legal guardians while handling these tasks.
The clinical duties of a pediatric medical assistant vary depending on what is mandated in a given state. Generally allowed duties include escorting patients to exam rooms; taking and recording vitals, such as temperatures and height and weight measurements; taking and recording medical histories; preparing patients and parents for examinations and medical procedures; and providing assistance to physicians during exams. In some states, the assistant might additionally collect and prepare laboratory specimens; dispense vaccines and shots; draw patients’ blood; and prepare and administer medications. The medical assistant must be adept at putting children at ease during all procedures, as well as skilled at answering parents’ questions and explaining things in layman's terms.
Pediatric medical assistants prepare exam rooms between patients, sterilize medical instruments and properly dispose of contaminated supplies, such as needles and syringes, in an effort to keep cross-contamination and disease spread to a minimum. They must practice universal precautions when dealing with bodily fluids to protect themselves, their patients, their co-workers and others. Pediatric medical assistants work with children--who may act irrationally and move suddenly and unexpectedly. Therefore, they need to be vigilant when handling needles or sharp objects, and may need to restrain the child for his own safety.
Pediatric medical assistants who handle administrative duties solely need just a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the field. Assistants performing clinical duties, however, need to earn a certificate or a diploma via an accredited one- or two-year training program at a vocational or technical school, community college or junior college. States that allow medical assistants to administer injections require the assistant to pass a test or take a course specific to that task.
Salary and Job Outlook
The salary earned by a pediatric medical assistant varies depending on experience, skill level and location. PayScale reports the annual salary of a pediatric medical assistant ranges between $24,520 and $40,499. Of people currently employed in the field of medical assisting, 98 percent are female. Most report a high level of job satisfaction.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks data and makes projections for all civilian occupations. The BLS predicts a 29 percent job growth rate for medical assistants through 2026, a rate much faster than average compared to all other jobs.