What is a Dermatology Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant specialized in the field of dermatology is called a dermatology medical assistant. Though the responsibilities and duties of a dermatology medical assistant vary in medical organizations and clinics, the popularity and prominence of dermatology medical assistants as the single largest group of support systems to dermatologists cannot be denied. The dermatology medical assistants’ duties also involve them being the point of contact and first assistants during dermatology procedures and settings.
Dermatology medical assistants play an essential role in educating patients about their conditions and being scribes to dermatologists, documenting all procedures and findings. For both, a dermatology medical assistant has to be well-acquainted with the medical terminology of the field as well as standard dermatology disease processes.
Job Duties: What Does a Dermatology Medical Assistant Do?
A dermatology medical assistant has many duties relating to medical and cosmetic dermatology, which are clinical and administrative. They aid health professionals and dermatologists with patient care of individuals who have dermatological issues. These specialized medical assistants are responsible for running the quotidian activities of the medical site, besides maintaining electronic medical records of patients. They are also expected to document procedures and exam findings as well as being assistants of dermatologists. Detailed insight of dermatology medical assistants are provided below:
Medical assistants aren’t licensed individuals. They can perform a selected range of clinical tasks delegated to them by dermatologists and other licensed health professionals in compliance with the land laws. Some of their clinical duties include:
- Reviewing the medical histories of patients
- Preparing specimens for lab work
- Providing follow-up consultations to patients
- Creating and updating electronic medical records (EMR) of patients
- Assisting dermatologists during physical examinations
- Documenting physical examination findings
- Ensuring all supplies, exam rooms, and treatment rooms are cleaned
- Making sure that inventory supplies are maintained
- Assisting nurses and patients with procedures
- Administering injections as specified by dermatologists
- Setting up examination rooms before an appointment
- Preparing patients for surgical procedures like skin tag removal, excisions, chemical peels, and biopsies
- Assisting dermatologists with cosmetic procedures like laser treatment, fillers, and Botox
- Handing tools and equipment to dermatologists during surgeries and procedures
Dermatology medical assistant requirements involve a range of front office duties and back-office tasks to keep the medical facility running regularly. Their regular administrative responsibilities include:
- Data entry, filing, and faxing
- Scheduling and confirming patient appointments
- Responding to telephonic inquiries
- Obtaining consent forms from patients
- Recording the special needs of patients
- Maintaining a pro-active system in the office
- Creating and up-keeping medical charts
- Keeping all records of charts and EMR
- Documenting and distributing all clinical correspondence of patients
- Addressing relevant concerns with management
Besides regular clinical and administrative tasks cut out for them, dermatology medical assistants’ duties can evolve according to the exigencies in medical sites. Some range of special responsibilities include:
- Maintaining formal as well as informal correspondence
- Providing emotional support to patients
- Providing proper information during procedures and surgeries
- Maintaining a safe and healthy environment for patients
- Providing psycho-social support to patients as well as their families
Education Requirements for Dermatology MAs
A dermatology medical assistant is not mandated by law to have formal education, but it is always better that they do. Most states do not have educational related dermatology medical assistant requirements, but employability chances are more for educationally trained medical assistants. There are many course options available for dermatology medical assistants from reputed public and private MA schools.
A certificate in medical assisting can be procured or a diploma for medical assistants interested in short-term formal education options. For long-term prospects, an Associate in Applied Sciences in medical assisting can be acquired. All courses in medical assisting involve a minimum of 160 hours of unpaid clinical externship under direct supervision to learn about the practical technicalities of the field.
How Long is Schooling?
The average course duration of dermatology medical assistants usually depends upon the type of course they are pursuing. For a certificate course, the total program duration is around 9 to 12 months. For a diploma, the program duration is a year, and for an associate degree, it is about 2 years. The curriculum for the shorter courses is split into 3 semesters of study, whereas for long-term classes, it is divided into 4 or 5 semesters.
Medical assistants usually learn about physiology, psychology, medical terminology, and basic anatomy. Special certificate programs are available for medical assistants who want to obtain national certification in specialized dermatology areas. Specific medical terminology related to dermatology, skin disorders and dermatology diseases is taught as part of the curriculum. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Coding are also essential areas of study in these courses.
Medical assistants who have national certificates have high employability standards and are preferred over the rest by recruiters. The 2 most prominent certification options include Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) provided by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). For candidates interested in sitting for CMA and RMA examinations, they must have completed formal education from schools that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
There are other options for national certifications too. They include National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) credential provided by NCCT, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) by National Healthcare Association (NHA), and Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) provided by National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP).
Dermatology medical assistants require special certification for the specialized services they would provide. Their certification acts as a testimony of their skills at nationally accepted standards. A Specialty Certified Medical Assistant in Dermatology (SCMA-D™) is recommended for dermatology medical assistants. The SCMA certification is available in 13 therapeutic specialties, where Dermatology is just one of them.
There’s also another certification available for dermatology medical assistants, namely, Certified Dermatology Tech (CDT), valid for 2 years after the first certification. This certification ensures that every candidate maintains a higher level of dermatology specific knowledge.
Recertification and Continuing Education
All certifications need to be renewed after a specific period so that medical assistants stay updated with the ongoing changes in the medical field. For the RMA national certification, it must be renewed every 3 years by staying in compliance with the AMT rules and regulations. AAMA’s CMA certification has a separate renewal procedure every 5 years.
For the dermatology specialized certification of SCMA-D™, medical assistants must renew their certification every year. For the Certified Dermatology Tech (CDT) certification, candidates must renew the certificate every 2 years. There’s a nominal fee of $39 attached to the process. The recertification testing is valid for individuals who already have Certified Dermatology Tech (CDT), which is supposed to expire within 8 weeks or has expired but within no greater than the last 6 months.
Enrollment in the renewal course provides candidates 3 months of access to all learning modules. The recertification examination has 300 questions, and they don’t need to complete the entire right away. A span of 2 weeks will be provided to complete the test, and they will be allowed to save their progress. The recertification testing examination must be completed within 3 months of enrollment. They will need to earn a score of 75 or better to pass the recertification examination and have 2 attempts to complete the recertification examination.
Qualities/Skills Required for a Dermatology Medical Assistant
To be a dermatology medical assistant, one needs to have a set of personal and professionals qualities. They also have to spearhead emergencies as and when they arise. Some skills required to be a dermatology medical assistant include:
- Should be empathetic to cater to the needs of the patient
- Should be patient with complex procedures
- Should reflect strong moral character
- Should have a helpful attitude dedicated to serving the society
- Should exhibit appropriate communication and coordination skills to perform in a team
- Should be caring towards the needs of adults and children
- Should prepare patients for complex procedures
- Should exhibit skills in recording, reviewing, and performing lab tests
- Should exhibit skills to understand medical charts
- Should assist in the diagnosis
- Should be adept in creating electronic medical records
- Should know their way around hypodermic needles
- Should be acquainted with the know-how of procedure-related equipment
- Should exhibit basic computer skills and preferably coding skills, too
- Should have proper skills to operate and maintain medical software
- Should have basic office maintenance skills
- Should know basic mathematics for billing purposes
Dermatology Medical Assistant Salary and Job Outlook
According to data from salary.com, dermatology medical assistants get paid around $15 to $20 per hour in the US. The median hourly salary is $17, as of September 25, 2020. They are also entitled to a bonus of $40 and other benefits like social security, disability, healthcare, pension, and time off. The value of benefits with the salary amounts to $53,319 annually.
Resourceful Links for Dermatology MAs
Established in 2012, the ACDT is an organization that houses all certified dermatology techs and looks after their best interests. They provide educational and certification opportunities to medical assistants and other allied health professionals in supportive roles of clinical dermatology.
It is one of the most reputable resources for medical assistants, informing them of current job openings, salary dynamics, and other important information they need to know.
As medical assistants are mostly unlicensed professionals, this scope of practice mentions their responsibilities and the rules and regulations they are expected to function in clinical set-ups and ambulatory settings.
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.