What is a Podiatric Medical Assistant?
A podiatric medical assistant is a healthcare aide who works in a podiatrist’s clinic. A podiatrist specializes in internal and external injuries of the foot, ankle, and lower limb region. The podiatric medical assistant carries out clerical and medical duties alongside the doctor and often acts as a substitute for the doctor.
What Does a Podiatric Medical Assistant Do: Job Role
Podiatric healthcare assistants do the same work general medical assistants do. They expertly handle administrative and clinical responsibilities. However, the clinical tasks focus more on foot care.
- Maintaining and sterilizing medical supplies and equipment
- Filing insurance and updating the patient database
- Scheduling appointments
- Explaining and discussing the next steps of treatment with the patient
- Medical coding and billing
- Keeping the examination and surgical rooms clean and organized
- Briefing podiatrists on patient history, current condition, and treatment progress
- Taking X-rays and MRIs of the foot
- Caring for diabetic foot wounds
- Applying and taking off the patient’s plaster or cast
- Carrying out fungal nail care
- Cutting and filing toenail
- Creating insole template
- Aiding with minor surgeries
- Applying ointment and other medication on the toes
- Drawing blood and performing foot injection
- Removing stitches
How to Become a Podiatric MA: Education, Training
There is no fixed career path for a Podiatric Medical Assistant. The minimum requirement is for the person to be 18 years of age with a good GCSE or equivalent score. You can do the following things to increase your chance of employment:
- Obtain a Podiatric Medical Assistant Certification
A certification in podiatric assistance demonstrates your skills and knowledge of the field. These courses can be done online or in person. Some may direct you to input clinical hours independently, while others prefer hands-on training. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) approves the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA) Certification.
- Volunteer in a Clinic
Volunteering at a clinic can get you employed as a podiatric assistant, regardless of qualification. Additionally, most associate, diploma, and certification degrees require you to input clinical hours. You may get the credits through an externship. Many assistants train at a medical institute first and get a degree later, oftentimes online.
- Acquire a Medical Assistant Associate Degree
A medical assistant associate degree is more prestigious than any certification or diploma. You can enroll in school for the associate degree and eventually use the credit to get a bachelor’s. Most podiatric clinics will hire you in a prestigious position if you have an associate degree or bachelors. There is no need to have a specialized certificate. However, if you possess one and have clinical experience, your job search period will end faster.
Podiatric Medical Assistant Certification Requirements
To get the Podiatric Medical Assistant Certification, you must:
- Start with volunteering or getting hired at a podiatry clinic where you will have a Doctor of Podiatry Medicine (DPM) overseeing your work. This person or group of doctors should have a good relationship with American Podiatric Medical Association(APMA). You need to be employed as a podiatry assistant to sit for the certification exam.
- Register for a certification exam recognized by the APMA. At present, the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA) certification is the only APMA-accredited exam. Submit the registration form and fee 30 days before the examination to the Qualifying and Examining chairperson of the institute.
- The exam can be taken online and in person at several affiliated locations. The certification is divided into three sections- administrative,radiology, and clinical. You can sit for all three or single sections. The fee for each segment is $400.
You can get an associate degree, bachelor’s, or a diploma in medical assistance first. Once a podiatry clinic hires you based on your on-paper qualifications, you can get real-life experience in the field. It will also allow you to register for the certification exam and get recommended by the podiatrist.
Qualities Required for a Podiatric Medical Assistant
Podiatric medical assistants need knowledge of foot care in addition to the below-mentioned qualities:
- Expert manoeuvring skills
- Willingness to touch other people’s feet
- Good interpersonal skills as they have to discuss procedures with patients, doctors, insurance companies, etc.
- Team players who are equally adept at making individual executive decisions
- Detail orientation as feet care requires precise treatment
- Not afraid to touch visually gross material
- A reassuring attitude to ease the nerves of the patients
- Adequate knowledge of the medical tools and machinery
Podiatric Medical Assistants often substitute for the podiatrist for less complicated procedures. As such, they end up in contact with the patient more than the doctor. Critical thinking, multitasking skills, and a penchant for problem-solving are essential.
Where Does a Podiatric MA Work?
Podiatric medical assistants work at podiatric clinics, nursing homes, hospitals, rehab centers, medical facilities, etc. They can choose whether to focus on administrative or medical work more. However, specialized medical assistants generally work closely with patients.
How to Find a Job as a Podiatric Medical Assistant?
To find a podiatry medical assistant job, you need to have one foot in the medical world. A certification or volunteering experience as a medical assistant is enough for many clinics to consider hiring you.
- Medical Staff Recruitment Agency
You can submit your resume to a medical staff recruitment company. These agencies keep in touch with clinics, hospitals, and medical facilities across the country. Often, applications from recruitment agencies get preference over freelance submissions.
- Job Listing Sites
You have more control over your job search with a career-oriented website. Indeed, Salary.com, ZipRecruiter, etc., have filters so you can narrow down on jobs compatible with your salary expectations, experience, location, and position. You can upload your resume and create a profile so recruiters can find you too.
If you volunteer at medical institutes, you will automatically create an easy-going relationship with medical professionals. They can refer you to podiatry clinics. If you are already working as a medical assistant, it is a matter of finding a podiatrist willing to hire and train you for the specialized work.
- Hospital or Clinic Website
If you have a list of hospitals or clinics you wish to work at, visit the facility website. If they have a job opening, you will find it listed on their "Career" page.
Podiatric Medical Assistant Salary
The salary of a podiatric medical assistant depends on the clinic’s certification level or degree, experience, position, and region. They earn an average of $42,000 to $44,000 per annum. The annual allowance for assistants with a certification, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s is $52,000, $55,000, and $60,000, respectively. A master’s or a doctorate guarantees well over $70,000 to $85,000 remunerations.
You can find podiatry medical assistants’ hourly, monthly, and annual salaries from reputable sources in the following table:
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Benefits of Being a Podiatric Medical Assistant
Let’s take a look at the fun part of being a podiatric medical assistant:
- Work-life Balance
Compared to other professions, podiatry offers better timings to podiatrists and assistants. It is the same as working a 9 to 5 shift. You get adequate vacation dates and get your weekends off.
- Specialized Experience
You gain a particular skill set when working in a specialized field. You can use your experience in foot care to get a job as a nail technician or increase your salary in the clinic.
- Job Growth
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the podiatric field has grown by 29% in the last 10 years. You can start off at $40,000 per annum without any certification and grow to earn over $80,000 with proper degrees.
Written by : Casey Gardner
Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator. She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant, and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.