The medical assistant externship is an important part of your vocational training and signifies the point of transition from being a student to becoming a skilled medical assistant right before your graduation. Although most medical assisting students have some apprehension about their externship once it begins they usually find it to be a highly rewarding experience.
Their first experiences of a real working environment can be formative, exhilarating and eye-opening. The externship is unpaid. Performance, punctuality and attendance are carefully tracked and reported back to the school. Midway of the externship the student will be evaluated by the medical office supervisor and will be given a final evaluation on the last day of completion.
While the student medical assistant is learning, he/she is also contributing valuable work at the externship site. Sometimes, medical practices offer the fledgling medical assistant an entry-level position upon successful graduation. Unfortunately there are more medical assistants graduates than there are jobs and although good workers are always in demand, this abundance keeps wages low–it is the availability of workers that determines their salaries.
There has been much talk among medical assistant program graduates on online forums about not being able to finding work and thinking about volunteer work.
Other factors in play are a medical facility’s size, number of patients, specialties and location. A large HMO with specialists and clinicians working together in one practice can afford to offer good salaries and perks, while a small single-provider practice might struggle to keep patients, so salaries are low.
While volunteer work is a great way to stay current and gain new experiences some employers may rotate through unpaid placements to keep within the law but with no intension to hire. Unpaid and volunteer work may get you a foot into prestigious places, but in the long run, when travel, child care and expenses accumulate it is not efficient, nor fair to be working for free, especially when no other members of the medical team starts in the same way.
Those who finally land a job often are excited to be paid anything once they start working, however, they may not question their salary, believing it is ‘better to be paid something than nothing’. A hidden pitfall is that after a year of working for low wages they might be worse off then when they started out. It is a catch-22 situation.
Keep looking!!! Countless medical practices, hospitals and clinics hire at least one medical assistant to with their staff. There are approximately over 1.9 million jobs for allied health professionals at any given moment. To help you explore newly emerging career interests, positions, and target jobs use our instant what-where job search box below. Just type in a job title, keyword, or company that interests you and then click “find jobs” below, such as “medical assistant” or “certified medical assistant” followed by your Zip code, e.g. “01013”.