How to Get Work in Remote Medical Assistance
Before the onset of COVID-19, only about 25% of U.S. workers worked remotely, from home, on a regular or occasional basis. That means that 75% of the U.S. workforce, including most people working in healthcare, never worked from home at all.
The pandemic has changed all that.
The pandemic has also changed the healthcare landscape and made telemedicine more important than ever before. With the demand for more telehealth services comes the need for more remote medical assistants.
Thinking about a career in remote medical assistance?
Here’s what remote medical assistance is all about, what the job entails, how much you can make, and how to land a position.
What Is a Remote Medical Assistant?
So what exactly does a remote medical assistant do?
Their tasks are wide and varied, and they include both clinical as well as administrative duties.
Remote medical assistants offer medical support for the physician, but they don’t necessarily provide medical care for the patient.
They work for both primary care physicians and specialists, in urgent care centers, small private practices, and community health services centers.
Remote medical assistants are an integral part of the medical staff. They’re part of the total patient care team and are the first person the patient sees when they arrive (or login online) to see a doctor.
For in-person scenarios, medical assistants:
- Collect the patient’s medical history
- Document patient symptoms
- Explain treatment procedures
- Collect lab specimens, including blood and urine samples
- Measure and record vital signs, such as blood pressure
- Clean and prepare exam rooms in between appointments
- Instruct patients about medications prescribed by the physician
They also perform various administrative tasks, such as updating electronic medical records, coding, billing, and scheduling further diagnostic testing or follow-up exams.
Remote workers need to know how to do all these things as well as:
- Remote patient monitoring in real-time
- Scheduling future telehealth appointments
- Communicating with physicians and insurance companies via phone or video calls
A medical assistant and a remote medical assistant are very similar gigs. The only key distinction between the roles is that an on-site medical assistant must collect lab specimens. In contrast, a remote assistant has to know how to monitor a patient’s vital signs and symptoms remotely.
Both require patient interaction, and both need excellent communication skills as well as a good “bedside manner.”
How Much Do Remote Medical Assistants Make?
Not sure if a career as a remote medical assistant will earn you enough to pay your bills, save for the future, and provide for your family?
The average salary of a remote medical assistant varies quite a bit depending on the experience and education you have under your belt.
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average for a full-time medical assistant is $54,576 per year or $26 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median average salary is quite a bit lower at $35,850 per year or $17.23 per hour.
Despite the disparity in these salary reports, don’t expect to start your career making anything close to those amounts.
Entry-level remote medical assistants make about $19,500 per year or $9.38 per hour. This is only a few thousand dollars more per year than someone earning a full-time federal minimum wage. Without certification or experience, you’ll be lucky to make $20,000 per year as an entry-level remote medical assistant.
Of all the remote medical assistants in the U.S., 75% make $59,500 per year or less. Only about 6% earn at the high end of the spectrum, which tops out at about $90,000 per year for highly qualified assistants with years of experience.
Freelance Remote Medical Assistants Don’t Get Employer Benefits
Freelancers are independent contractors. You’re not an employee, so you’re not entitled to any employee benefits.
When employed full-time by a physician practice or medical center, most medical assistants receive benefits (e.g., health insurance and paid vacation days).
As a freelance medical assistant, you will not receive employer-sponsored health insurance, paid time off, or any other benefits that traditional employees receive.
Freelance medical assistants also need to hold money aside from their paycheck each week to pay for taxes. Since you’re not an employee, you don’t have an “employer” to withhold taxes for you throughout the year. You’ll be responsible for saving funds for your taxes and making IRS tax payments rather than receiving a refund at tax time.
On an entry-level salary earning about $20,000 per year, working as a remote medical assistant can make it challenging to make ends meet. However, with the proper certification and some experience, you can make considerably more.
In most states, a high school diploma and the completion of a medical assistant training program are all that’s required to become a medical assistant.
There are only four states that require a license or certification to work as a medical assistant:
- New Jersey
The job of a remote medical assistant is competitive, in part because it doesn’t require certification. It does, however, require training in a medical assistant program.
No medical practice will hire you to take a blood sample if you haven’t undergone phlebotomy training. No medical center will employ you to document patient histories without knowing medical terms and ethics.
Even without certification, you’ll need proper training to learn about:
- Medical terminology
- Proper use of medical equipment
- Medical ethics
- Exam room procedures
- Administrative duties
You can do your training at various technical schools and community colleges, though some employers may require an associate’s degree.
Once you complete your training, you can sign up to take an exam to obtain your state license or certification.
Even if your state doesn’t require it, having a certificate puts you ahead of any medical assistant without one. This makes you more competitive in the job market, making it much easier to find a job.
Where to Get Certified as a Medical Assistant
There are multiple ways to become a certified medical assistant, and there is no one specific degree or credential that you need to hold.
Three of the most well-recognized certification agencies for medical assistants are:
Each of these agencies offers a different medical credential, and all can make you a more qualified, attractive applicant in the eyes of an employer. Here’s a glimpse into the specific type of certification that each agency provides.
The American Association of Medical Assistants offers a CMA credential through the Certifying Board of the AAMA.
To receive this credential, you must pass the CMA exam. The exam includes a variety of questions on both clinical care and administrative activities.
To qualify to take the exam, you must first graduate from a medical assisting program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
The agency of American Medical Technologists offers an RMA credential to applicants that pass the RMA certification exam.
To qualify to take the exam, you must have 720 hours of instruction in a medical assistant program accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
You can also sit for the RMA exam if you have formal medical training with the U.S. military.
The National Center for Competency Testing offers an NCMA credential to applicants that pass the NCMA exam.
Like other medical assistant certifications, you must first have a diploma from an accredited school or medical assistant program and be well-versed in all aspects of administrative duties as well as patient care.
Where to Find Jobs as a Medical Assistant
There are a variety of different ways to find remote medical assistance services jobs. From online job boards to college placement services, here are some of the different ways that you can find a new job as a medical assistant.
Online Job Boards
Simply type in the keywords “remote medical assistance,” narrow down your options by location or zip code, and start scrolling!
Because most freelancer sites focus on job opportunities for writers, graphic designers, IT professionals, and administrative professionals — not medical workers. These sites often post remote healthcare opportunities for medical coders and billers, but you’ll rarely see job postings for assistants trained in providing patient care.
You can also turn to staffing firms and recruiters to help you find remote medical assistant jobs — but they don’t place freelancers. Staffing firms and recruiters work with employers to find employees, not independent contractors.
College or Technical School
Most colleges and technical schools have a career services center, so check with your school to see if they can assist you with job placement.
You can also make use of your school’s career center to find internship and externship opportunities. Internships/externships provide you with added medical services experience and look great on a resume.
Reach Out to Your Network
It’s never too early in your career to start building your professional network. The more colleagues, fellow students, medical professionals, and educators you keep in touch with, the better.
Your network can help you find a job!
When searching for a new position, reach out to your network and let them know that you’re searching for a remote medical assistant position. They may know of an opening and might be able to help you get an interview.
Are Remote Medical Assistants in Demand?
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just changed how and where people work. It’s also changed (and continues to change) how people see their physicians.
During the first quarter of 2020, telehealth visits increased by 50%. It is expected to be a $186.5 billion industry by 2026.
As the demand for telemedicine and telehealth services grows, so does the need for remote medical care management professionals, like you.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 720,900 medical assistant jobs existed in 2020, and 132,600 more will be created between now and 2030.
This career has an expected 18% growth rate through 2030, which the BLS denotes as being much faster than the average growth rate for other careers.
Demand for healthcare workers of all types, including physicians, is only increasing.
Want to provide patient care but don’t want to become a physician or a registered nurse?
Remote medical assistants are an integral part of any practice or healthcare facility. They’re the first person the patient sees, and they perform a variety of duties that are pertinent for the doctor to provide proper care.
If you work as a remote medical assistant, remember that it’s up to you to pay for health insurance coverage and other benefits.
When it comes to benefits, independent contractors are on their own — unless they’re members of a group that specifically provides benefits to gig workers.
To learn more about the freelancer benefits that you can get as a remote medical assistant, contact Gigly now.