There’s always something therapeutic about helping people. It’s one of the few things in life that a person can do without thinking twice, and afterwards you’re bound to get that priceless sense of gratification and fulfillment. It is no wonder, really, that a lot of people end up choosing careers that are all about helping others, because what greater calling can there be? It’s usually not an easy career path to choose, but it does come with its merits. While most reading this now would think of doctors, there are others out there who dedicate their lives for the betterment of others’ around them, namely, medical assistants. Some would say being one is even harder than being a doctor, but in any case, it’s quite a noble quest. Here’s how you can become one in the UK.

Understanding the role

Before you even consider being a medical assistant in the UK, you need to understand what it entails and what kind of responsibilities and duties would come with it. For starters, as a medical assistant, you won’t be directly in charge of patients at first. You’ll work under the supervision of a certified professional for some time, most probably a nurse. You’ll be asked to do a variety of tasks depending on your level of expertise as well as where you’re starting out.

For hospitals, your duties will be mostly patient related. A medical assistant would wash and dress patients, help them move around, make their beds, feed incapacitated patients, read vitals and take temperature, and so on. If you’re a medical assistant in a surgery unit, you might be asked to sterilize equipment, take blood and urine samples, process lab samples, and a variety of other tasks. 

You need to understand that being a medical assistant entails a lot of interaction with patients, and a lot of the time you’re going to be the person they deal with the most. It’s definitely not a job for unsociable people, because those patients will be relying on you for comfort and relief quite often. You should be the kind of person who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty and help with washing patients and bringing them to the toilet, and you should be okay with following instructions from a more experienced person because you’ll be working under one for quite some time.

Work conditions and pay

Before you get into this world, you should know what kind of working hours and pay you should expect. Medical assistants are usually expected to work for around 37.5 hours a week, which might involve overnight shifts and weekends. The average pay is between 8 and 10 pounds an hour, with bonuses varying according to your experience, work, and location. A medical assistant’s worth definitely grows over time, and the more experience you get, the better your pay will be and the more opportunities you’ll be able to access. 

Getting your certification

There are different ways to becoming a medical assistant in the UK, and the first of those is enrolling in a medical assistant school. If you are serious about making a career out of this, you’re going to have to take this step sooner or later, because this is how you get your certifications and become a licensed practitioner. You’ll find that there are plenty of available options in which you can enroll, and you also might want to consider doing it online. There are plenty of top online medical assistant schools that can help you get licensed while having a day job or any other sort of responsibility, and it’s definitely a great option for people who want to become medical assistants, but don’t have enough time to enroll in a day program.  

The length of the program will dictate what kind of certification you’ll be walking out with, so you should keep that in mind if you want to start working as soon as possible. Most of the time, you’ll be given a choice between getting a medical assistant certificate/diploma or an associate’s degree. The main difference between both options is the duration. If you’re going for the certificate/diploma options, the duration is usually between 9 and 12 months, while the associate’s degree takes up to two years. These different certifications, also known as apprenticeships in the UK, can give you both the academic knowledge and the hands-on experience you need to become a medical assistant in the UK.

On the job training

In some cases, it is possible for you to become a medical assistant in the UK without getting these certifications, and it’s by getting your training on the job. There are minimal entry requirements, naturally, to get hired like good literacy and a General Certificate of Secondary Education to prove your competence in English and math. You might also be asked to provide proof of prior experience in healthcare in one form or another, whether it’s paid or voluntary work. 

On the job training does have its perks, most importantly, being able to start earning and working as soon as possible without having to wait for a certain period of time to get your certification. You should know that it is not easy to get such an opportunity, though, because you will need to find a doctor that is willing to take you on as an uncertified applicant to train you and give you the knowledge you need to become a medical assistant. Most will require some form of certification that shows you have an academic background in healthcare, but you can definitely find doctors willing to give you on the job training and work with you, but you need to demonstrate some form of technical ability as well as an immense passion for healthcare. 

It is definitely not an easy job, and you’re going to have to work hard for it, but it’s extremely rewarding and you get to do something incredible. Over time, your responsibilities will grow and you’ll be able to help even more people, but until that time comes, you’ll need to work very hard and study so you could give yourself options and grow in the career you’ve chosen. 

If you require assistance in creating the perefect CV, please have a look at this guide.

Image sources. Pixels/Unsplash

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