Geriatrics is one of the most essential fields in the medical community. With the rising need for nursing homes and senior living facilities, medical staff dedicated to these patients is increasing in demand. The degree of care is varying, but many long-term care facilities hire medical assistants in case of emergencies and to act as liaisons between the patients and their general physicians, so there is a wide variety of experiences available in this field.
Medical assistants have promising job prospects in the upcoming years, in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23 percent growth outlook by 2028, which is drastically higher than the national average. There will always be senior citizens, and with the aging baby boomer population, there are more now than ever, creating an especially high demand for qualified medical professionals to provide proper care.
Workplace Options for Medical Assistants
One of the great perks of being a medical assistant is the variety of work environments, and medical assistants pursuing a career in geriatrics are no exception. Medical assistants working in geriatrics get to choose from nursing homes, hospitals, active senior communities or retirement communities, and for private caretaker organizations. With such a wide variety of environments comes diverse routines and duties. In this branch of medical care, patients will have a hefty plethora of needs and varying degrees of capability, vastly diversifying your care for each of them.
Nursing Homes vs Retirement Communities
Nursing homes are classified as facilities that provide medical care in a more comfortable, long-term setting for elderly patients who require around-the-clock care. Retirement communities are another popular choice for medical assistants looking to work in geriatrics. These communities operate not unlike small cities, but with the added benefit of on-site assistance and amenities, including medical services. Certain retirement communities typically employ many more medical assistants than doctors, since most patients choose to keep their normal primary care physician. Also, most people living in these communities don’t require a doctor’s medical expertise, so it is more cost effective to employ other personnel.
Your Daily Duties
Geriatrics differs slightly from general medicine, due to the unique needs of seniors. Some of the main duties in elder care is helping with your patient’s daily routine: helping them get dressed, bathed, and fed. Taking vitals, collecting lab specimens, and monitoring any current or progressing diseases is also a daily must. Additionally, administering daily medications is an important responsibility, especially for patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. These patients are at a high risk of overdosing or forgetting to take the medication at all. Medical assistants are crucial in preventing tragedies such as these. It is also the medical assistant’s job to help educate patients about their medications and answer any questions they may have.
Even the most general care is different for older patients. Routine clinical tasks such as taking vitals and giving daily insulin injections are altered in the realm of geriatrics. The thinning of the skin and loss of muscle mass that happens with age can make it more difficult to insert IVs or take blood. The changes that happen to one’s body in their senior years makes a career in geriatrics unique and challenging enough to add intrigue to your usual routine. Also, medical assistants are trained in injections and basic first aid, so they’re handy to keep around in the unfortunate case of an accident or emergency.
Fulfilling Career Choice
This career path has immense potential to be incredibly fulfilling. Elders are a demographic that are far too often exploited or abused by care teams and family connections. As a medical assistant caregiver, you have the responsibility of making sure that these people are in good hands while under your care. You have the amazing opportunity to be a light in the lives of these older individuals who might not have many visitors and might depend heavily on your help every day. It greatly increases the impact that you make on the lives of others on a daily basis. Ask any medical assistant working in geriatrics and they’ll tell you themselves, the personal connections and impact is a huge motivator for the job.
Get Started Today
If you think you’d be a good fit as a medical assistant working in geriatrics, take a look at local programs like Woodruff Medical to help you get started. A career in this field can be fulfilling, profitable, and exciting.