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Is a Medical Assistant the Same as a Medical Coder?

Posted On Oct 5, 2021

Medical assisting and medical coding are often linked together, so one might assume they are the same profession, but they’re actually very different. A career as a medical assistant is more versatile and more in demand and receiving training and certification as a medical assistant will provide you with a wider range of opportunities.

Medical assistant working in a hospital wearing a mask.

What are the Differences Between a Medical Assistant and Medical Coder? 

Medical coding involves the translating of medical diagnoses, treatments, equipment, and other aspects of the healthcare system into universal alphanumeric codes. These are used to keep detailed medical records and to track healthcare appointments for billing purposes. There’s also a difference between medical coders and billers. A medical coder transcribes doctor’s notes into a universal language, versus a medical biller who primarily processes medical claims and follows up with insurance companies. 

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In contrast, a medical assistant holds more clinical responsibilities than a medical coder. They work directly with physicians by recording medical histories, drawing blood, conducting basic lab tests, suture removal, and many other medical tasks. They’re also cross trained to perform many administrative duties, making them a highly valuable member of any healthcare team. They also schedule patient appointments and update insurance forms, in addition to a variety of other office related duties. Many medical assistants are also trained to handle many medical billing and coding tasks too, making it a more versatile career than becoming a medical coder alone. 

Why Become a Medical Assistant? 

One of the best things about becoming a medical assistant is the career versatility. Medical assistants perform both front and back-office duties, and many components of clinical and administrative tasks can be expanded further to advance your career. Basic medical billing and coding is an example of one of the many components you’ll learn during your training to become a medical assistant, so why not go for the career choice that offers the most opportunity? 

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Job Demand for MAs is High 

The job outlook for medical assistants is excellent and is expected to grow 19 percent by 2029. This growth is much faster than the average growth rate potential for all other occupations. If you become a medical assistant, job stability is one thing you won’t have to worry about because the need for highly trained medical assistants will continue to be in high demand for many years to come.  

Jumpstart Your Career Quickly 

Unlike other healthcare education and training that take years to complete, medical assistants can begin working faster.  Many medical assisting programs are designed to be completed in one year or less. For those who don’t have the time or resources to wait to begin work and are wanting to jump start their new career quickly, becoming a medical assistant is an excellent opportunity. 

Ability to Get Certified 

While certification isn’t required in some states, most employers prefer to hire certified candidates. Making the decision to sit for the exam after completion of your medical assistant training program will give you a competitive edge. The decision to become a CMA (certified medical assistant) will also provide you with a wider range of career opportunities in the future. 

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Ready to Get Started? 

A career in medical assisting offers a great deal of potential and gives you the opportunity to help people. It’s also a great way to get your start in the healthcare industry. If you’re ready to become a medical assistant, contact Athena Career Academy for more information about our accredited CMA program. 

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Athena Career Academy is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education. The school is registered with the Ohio Board of Career Colleges and Schools; State of Ohio – School Registration Number – 10-09-1943T and operates under the authority of the Ohio Board of Nursing. Please contact the Student Operations Manager for more information.

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