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How to Become an Oncology Medical Assistant

Nurses and medical assistants assist patients at oncology office front deskMedical assistants are a compassionate bunch. They choose to work with physicians and allied health workers in roles that greatly benefit patient care. Medical assistants work in a sector that is fast-growing in terms of employment and technology. New advances in medical treatment and care are exciting and create an environment where healthcare workers are always learning new things. This may be most apparent in the lives of patients with cancer.

Oncologists are the physicians who diagnose and treat these patients. The medical assistant program at Prism Career Institute, with campuses in Philadelphia, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ, and West Atlantic City, NJ, can be the first step toward a fulfilling career working as an oncology medical assistant.

What Duties Do Oncology Medical Assistants Perform?

The field of oncology is broad, and unfortunately, cancer is not limited to one type or one part of the body. In other words, the oncology medical assistant may work with a team that treats only a specific type of cancer, or that specializes in certain areas of the body, such as breast cancer or brain tumors.

Depending on the medical setting and specialization of the oncology team, medical assistant responsibilities may include the following tasks and duties:

  • Helping to prepare patients for examination, taking vital signs
  • Assisting physicians, physician assistants, and nurses with patient examinations
  • Drawing blood for testing, otherwise known as phlebotomy
  • Collecting samples, such as urine, for laboratory testing
  • Helping record information for electronic health records during exams
  • Assisting with diagnostic tests, such as biopsies and imaging technologies
  • Medical coding and billing procedures
  • Giving injections or medications to patients as directed by a physician
  • Scheduling patients for examinations and procedures
  • Maintaining inventory of supplies and generally assisting with operations

As oncology medical assistants gain experience and learn on the job, there may be other duties and responsibilities added. As they learn more about the specific types of cancer diagnosed and treated at the clinic, office, practice, or department, they can become more useful to the oncology team.

Approach Your Medical Assistant Program with an Oncology Focus

When medical assistant program students express an interest in oncology, Prism Career Institute staff encourage them to approach their studies with that focus. When learning about medical codes in the electronic health records course, make sure you pay special attention to the cancer-related diagnostic codes and understand how they pertain to the electronic health record. These codes are extremely important to medical billing procedures, and proper use can help reduce the amount of paperwork patients receive from their insurance companies. This can ultimately help reduce stress for oncology patients and the administrative staff with whom you work.

Learn as much as you can about cancer cells, and how they form and spread. Pay attention during the pharmacology course. Make sure you have a firm grounding in anatomy and physiology. The knowledge gained during the medical assistant diploma program will eventually help you, the oncology team, and the patients.

Develop strong communication skills, so you can clearly explain procedures or medication methods to patients when required. Becoming as well-versed as possible in oncology, cancer, and patient care will be of great benefit to anyone who works as an oncology medical assistant.

Career Options for Medical Assistants

The medical assistant program at Prism Career Institute helps prepare graduates for careers in a variety of medical specialties and subspecialties. They can find work in almost any healthcare setting, including medical center research studies, private physician practices, public health clinics, and hospital departments. Because work experience is so important to this career, Prism Career Institute requires students to complete an externship as part of the program. They spend 150 clock hours gaining real-world work experience in a medical setting.

As you advance within your program, you may find you are interested in several medical specialties, or that you want to remain a generalist. Both are valuable choices in terms of career satisfaction and job demand in healthcare. Be aware that further training and experience may be required for the oncology medical assistant role you have in sight. However, starting your career path with a medical assistant diploma from Prism Career Institute is a great beginning.

Apply for Admission to Our Medical Assistant Program

The medical assistant program at Prism Career Institute is designed for students who want to enter the workforce in a relatively short period. Our diploma program can be completed in 10 months. It is offered at all three of our campus locations, in Philadelphia, PA, Cherry Hill, NJ, and West Atlantic City, NJ. Students who work during the day can choose an option for evening and weekend classes available at our New Jersey campuses. Take the first step in your journey to become an oncology medical assistant. Apply online today or contact us to learn more about our programs.