As you may have seen in our recent survey of online advertisements for medical assisting jobs, it can be quite difficult to get a start in your career if you don't have experience.
Even though 43% of jobs advertised don't require prior experience, many of them say that experience is preferred.
When you're just starting out, this can seem a bit daunting. You're caught in a catch 22 - if you don't have on the job experience, they won't give you a job to get the experience you need to gain employment...
But the situation isn't necessarily as bad as it seems.
No one likes to work without getting paid, but the reality is that internships and volunteering can give you a head start when it comes to applying for a job in any field- and for medical assisting this is probably even more true.
And you need not volunteer on a full-time basis - many local clinics would be glad to have a helping hand 1 or 2 days a week at their busiest times. This still leaves you plenty of time to look for full-time work, or to hold down another job while you gain experience in the medical field; after-all, the monthly bills don't pay themselves.
Do it While Taking a Course
If you're currently studying to become a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) then it's a good idea to see if you can volunteer, even if it's only one afternoon, or morning, a week, so you can get some of the experience you need while completing your training.
By the time your graduate, or pass the CMA Exam, you'll already have practical experience and a letter of reference.
Tips on Applying to Volunteer
It can pay dividends to tailor your approach to the kind of workplace you're approaching when you offer your voluntary services.
If you're approaching a medium or large institution which has a large number of doctors, then it's a good idea to start by approaching the receptionist - he or she acts as a 'filter' to keep the time-wasters away from their supervisors and doctors. Making a good impression on them can make all the difference.
On the other hand, if you're going to a small practice with only 1 or 2 doctors, then you might want to think about ways to by-pass the receptionist. In this case the person 'on the front line' may feel threatened by the thought of another person helping in the practice, and as a result might not bring your application to the attention of the right person.
Consider making an appointment to see the Doctor (about a real health issue), then as your consultation is drawing to a close, let them know that you're also looking to volunteer as an assistant. Don't feel self conscious about bringing your resume with you - they are most likely to view this a you being motivated and taking the initiative.
Be Professional at All Times
We can't stress this issue too much.
Even though you may think you're doing them a favor by offering to work for free, it still has a cost to them if they accept your offer, and if they feel their cost is too high - they won't let you in.
By Cost we mean that they will initially have to slow down and be less productive while they teach you what needs to be done, and how you need to do it.
So when you email them, write them a letter, or approach them in person - make sure you present yourself in the most professional manner you can.
That means supplying a resume and/or cover letter demonstrating your professionalism, your attention to detail, your ability to work well with others, your genuine desire to help patients, and your desire to learn and advance yourself.
You might also like to read our article called: How To Get A Medical Assistant Job With No Experience.
Or this one about The History of Medical Assisting