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A Guide to Continuing Education in the Medical Field


Education is important for medical professionals

If you’re looking into healthcare as a first or second career, it’s natural to consider what your options are for continuing your education. Of course you’re in the market to advance your career, since you’ve already come this far. No matter which Ameritech program you choose, many career options are available for you, meaning you get to pick which one aligns best with your skill set, goals, personality, and professional background. We’ve put together just a snippet of the opportunities medical assistants, nurses, occupational therapy assistants, and dental lab technicians can look forward to after graduation. Now the hard part will be deciding which path to choose!

Medical assistant education

After completing a program like Ameritech’s, medical assistants must take a medical assisting certification. As a medical assistant, you can pursue a specialty such as clinical team lead, medical office manager, or medical records manager. Additional education, specialization, and certification can open up even more doors for medical assistants. Here are a few:

Dermatology: If this specialty surprises you, it shouldn’t. MAs provide more clinical support to dermatologists than any other group. MAs acquire initial medical history, assist during procedures, scribe notes, and enter history and physical exam findings.
EKG/cardiology technician: Cardiology technicians help care for patients who have disease and heart conditions and may administer EKGs. They may also be trained in stress testing procedures and how to use a Holter monitor.

Ophthalmology assistant: Ophthalmology assistants provide a wide range of duties in caring for the eyes. They perform diagnostic testing, assist the physician in eye treatments and emergencies, and provide patient education. The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology is the certifying body.

Related resource: How to Choose Where to Work as a Medical Assistant

Occupational therapy assistant

Occupational therapy assistants have several advantages among their peers. In fact, this field is projected to grow 43 percent from 2012 to 2022, making occupational therapy assisting one of the nation’s fastest-growing professions. Beyond job security, OTAs may wish to advance their careers. As with many other healthcare professions, this means specialization.

The American Occupational Therapy Association has a robust offering of continuing education available to OTAs. Common topics include:

  • Children and youth
  • Health and wellness
  • Mental health
  • Productive aging
  • Rehabilitation and disability
  • Work and industry

You’ll find classes like “Stroke Help-Functional Treatment Ideas & Strategies in Adult Hemiplegia” and “Sensory Processing Concepts and Applications in Practice.” Successfully completing these types of classes will help you demonstrate competency in the specialty of your choice.

Free eBook: 7 Fast Facts About Occupational Therapy Assisting

Dental laboratory technician

Dental lab techs are in the enviable point between science and artistry. Graduates of Ameritech’s dental laboratory technician program are prepared for the crown and bridge and ceramics portion of the Recognized Graduate test offered by the National Board for Certification of the National Association of Dental Laboratories. But like many other professionals, these techs may want to continue their education.

After three years of on-the-job experience, the Recognized Graduate may sit for a specialty written exam and take the NBC practical exam. There are six specialties currently recognized by the NBC:

  • Ceramics
  • Complete dentures
  • Crown and bridge
  • Orthodontics
  • Partial dentures
  • Implants

Getting board-certified in a competency makes you an attractive candidate for any dental practice with that specialty.

Nursing

You can be a nurse with an associate degree (RN), but many nurses are choosing to continue their education and obtain a bachelor’s degree (BSN), or even become a certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA).

BSN: Obtaining a bachelor’s degree is of huge advantage in nursing, especially if you’re interested in future leadership positions. You can start work as soon as you pass the NCLEX with an associate degree; however, with more hospitals hiring only nurses with BSNs, pursuing the extra education for a bachelor’s degree is a great career investment.

CRNA: These advanced nurses specialize in anesthesia. To become a CRNA, nurses must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, registered nurse licensure, one year of acute care experience (for example, ICU or ER), and complete both an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program and the national certification examination.

Nursing is a versatile profession, but it helps to have a focus or specialty. Popular nursing specialities include:

  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Critical care nurse
  • Diabetes nurse
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Gerontological nurse practitioner
  • Health policy nurse
  • Informatics nurse

The American Board of Nursing Specialties has a list of approved certification programs. The American Nursing Association is another great resource for continuing education.

Related resource: Practical Advice for Choosing Your Nursing Speciality

As you can see, there are so many options for advancing your healthcare career by continuing your education. As you progress through school and meet new instructors and supervisors, you’ll discover which fields of study interest you.

Visit our website to learn more about Ameritech’s programs of study.