Three out of the four U.S. military branches have a medical wing, which requires the services of military medical assistants. A Military Medical Assistant performs a diverse range of duties, which include working in combat zones with the armed forces and treating sick veterans. The exception to this rule is the Marines, who make use of the Naval medical services.
This means that there are many jobs available for a military medical assistant in the various branches of the U.S. Military at any given time. The military provides excellent training, and those looking to start somewhere and get trained for free and serve their country at the same time can look to getting some of the best training around today. Individuals can choose to sign on permanently or choose to finish their stint as a military medical assistant to go join the ranks of the civilian medical assistants.
The training, career paths and requirements for a military medical assistant differ from branch to branch of the U.S. Military, but they all do have some requirements in common, such as patience, a scientific mind and empathy. An individual, whether male or female, is required to enlist in order to become a military medical assistant, which means that they must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency, have a excellent command of the English language, a clean criminal record and be between the ages of 17 and 34; if they are under 18 years of age they must have parental consent to enlist.
The Military Medical Assistant In Various Branches Of The U.S. Military
Each branch of the U.S. Military trains slightly different and has different career paths for a military medical assistant according to the particular kind of warfare that they conduct:
The U.S. Army
- The U.S. Army trains enlisted men and women as Health Care Specialists to work alongside doctors and nurses in hospitals, both in bases and on the battlefield, and this means that a health care specialist could find themselves deployed anywhere in the world, from a base nears their home-town to a war zone in Africa.
- Health care specialists in the U.S. Army are required to take Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) sub-tests and must score a total of 95 points.
- The health care specialist is basically the army’s military medical assistant, and some of the main requirements are that they are interested in helping others, have an aptitude for science and algebra, and are good communicators.
- These individuals will receive the normal nine weeks of basic training and then a further 16 weeks of training as a health care specialist.
- A health care specialist can work themselves up through the ranks by receiving promotions and could even become a chief medical non-commissioned officer.
The U.S. Navy
- A military medical assistant in the U.S. Navy is called a Hospital Corpsman, and they provide dental and medical care to sailors and Marines.
- A corpsman also provides a range of services and works in different settings, which means that they could be deployed to a ship, a base onshore, or alongside Marines in a war-zone.
- Hospital Corpsmen also tend to Navy SEALs, and could therefore suddenly find themselves stationed in some remote area alongside Navy SEALs carrying out a clandestine special operations mission.
- Hospital Corpsmen are enlisted service members and as such receive specialized training to enable them to perform their duties to the best of their ability.
- Naval hospital corpsmen do the regular basic training and must take the ASVAB tests and obtain a score of at least 149, made up of a combination of the general science section, the paragraph comprehension section, and the mathematics section.
- Only male hospital corpsmen are deployed into the battle-field with Marines.
The U.S. Air Force
- A military medical assistant in the U.S. Air Force is called a Physician Assistant.
- The U.S. Air Force is the second-smallest of the military branches, and as such is very competitive, which means that enlistees must already be enrolled in a physician assistant program or have already graduated from one.
- A minimum score of 44 is required on the general sciences section of the ASVAB tests.
The U.S. Coast Guard
- The U.S. Coast Guard is the smallest branch of the U.S. military, and as such generally has the least positions available.
- A military medical assistant in the U.S. Coast Guard is called a Physician Assistant.
- Due to the fact that they have so few positions available, the Coast Guard is rather selective in choosing their Medical Assistants.
- A military medical assistant in the Coast Guard must already be qualified as a physician assistant.
- Unlike all of the other branches, the medical assistants in the Coast Guard are commissioned officers.
- Due to the fact that they are already qualified physician assistants, they are offered direct commissions as officers and therefore do not need to go through basic training.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assisting in general will remain one of the fastest growing occupations over the next ten years, with an expected growth of about 35% over the next six years.
Duties Of A Military Medical Assistant
A military medical assistant may work in clinics, on ships, or in the battlefield, and performs various duties such as assisting in the prevention and treatment of disease and injury. Medical assistants perform many clinical and administrative tasks, depending on where they are stationed. Their primary duties consist of making it easier for the medical doctors and nurses to attend to patients.
A military medical assistant can generally work in either the medical or dental field, and they perform a variety of clinical duties, including:
- Administering preventative care
- Assisting physicians during procedures and exams by giving them necessary tool
- Administering medications and injections
- Changing bandages and removing sutures
- Conducting elementary lab tests like urinalyses
- Correctly disposing of bio-hazardous materials
- Conducting respiratory tests and EKGs
- Drawing blood
- Educating other military personnel on personal hygiene and first aid
- Filling prescriptions
- Informing patients on procedures and treatments
- Informing patients on the proper administration of medication
- Maintaining patient records
- Performing a variety of medical tests
- Providing emergency medical or dental treatment
- Preparing and developing patients’ x-rays
- Preparing lab specimens
- Providing vaccines and medications for patients as indicated by the physician
- Sterilizing and cleaning equipment and instruments
- Serving as emergency medical technicians
- Serving as surgical technicians
- Taking down the medical history and vital signs of patients
A military medical assistant works under direct supervision, and their other duties may include manning the front desk and answering the phones, greeting patients, scheduling patient appointments, arranging for procedures and tests, updating patient information in their files, handling insurance, assisting patients to the examining rooms when necessary, and assisting during examinations.
No college degree is required to work as a military medical assistant, whereas this post traditionally requires an associate degree in civilian life. Many military medical assistants from all branches do follow the career of a medical assistant once they leave the armed forces, and become members of the civilian medical health fraternity. They can quite easily do this by taking advantage of tuition assistance, which means that the Armed Forces will pay for a portion or all of your education while you are doing active duty.
Various branches of the U.S. Military provide enlistees with free medical benefits, free food, free housing, and an annual salary, which allows the enlistees to afford to pay for college courses in the military medical assistant. The post- 9/11 Montgomery GI Bill, the Reserve Education Assistance Program, and the Veterans Education Assistance Program also provide educational assistance for active duty, reserve, and veterans of the Armed Forces, according to the United States’ Department of Veteran Affairs.
Once a military medical assistant has completed training required and obtained a certificate, diploma, associate degree or bachelor’s degree, they can apply to work as a medical assistant in any healthcare facility. Medical assistants are an important member of any healthcare team and are the backbone of any healthcare business, including hospitals and doctors’ offices. As a member of a civilian healthcare team you will be able to make a difference in patients’ lives and enjoy the security of a career that you enjoy and which will be in demand for a long time to come. Once you have completed a formal medical assistant program successfully and obtained your degree you will be eligible to sit for the National Health Association’s (NHA) Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certification examination. A certified medical assistant earns in the region of $38,000 per annum.
There are many medical assistant opportunities available, and you will be able to enjoy a fruitful civilian career as a medical assistant if you have enjoyed your time in the armed forces as a military medical assistant.