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Medical Assistant vs PALS

Medical Assistant vs PALS

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Key Points:

  • Medical Assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks; PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) providers focus on emergency care for children.
  • Medical Assistants typically earn less than PALS providers, who often have higher levels of specialized training.
  • Medical Assistant jobs are more abundant, while PALS providers are in high demand in healthcare settings that serve children.
  • Medical Assistants can train online or in-person, whereas PALS training is primarily in-person and hands-on.
  • Medical Assistant training is generally less expensive and shorter than PALS certification process.

The healthcare industry offers a wide range of career opportunities, and it can be overwhelming to choose the right path for yourself. Medical assisting and PALS certification are two options that provide a gateway to working in healthcare. A medical assistant is a multi-skilled professional who assists healthcare providers in various clinical and administrative tasks. On the other hand, PALS stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support, which is a specialized certification for healthcare professionals who work with pediatric patients in emergency situations.

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What is a Medical Assistant and PALS

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is an essential member of a healthcare team, providing support to physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals. They perform both administrative and clinical duties, ensuring the smooth operation of a medical facility. Some of the tasks that medical assistants may be responsible for include:

  • Taking patient histories and vital signs
  • Assisting with examinations and procedures
  • Administering medications and injections
  • Preparing and maintaining medical equipment
  • Scheduling appointments and managing medical records
  • Billing and coding for insurance purposes

PALS

PALS, or Pediatric Advanced Life Support, is a specialized certification for healthcare professionals who work with pediatric patients. This certification focuses on the recognition and management of pediatric emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, respiratory distress, and shock. PALS certified professionals are trained to provide advanced life support interventions to improve outcomes for critically ill or injured children. Some of the skills covered in PALS training include:

  • Assessing and managing respiratory emergencies
  • Initiating and maintaining effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Identifying and treating shock
  • Administering medications specific to pediatric patients
  • Recognizing and managing arrhythmias
  • Collaborating with a team during pediatric resuscitation scenarios

Difference between a Medical Assistant and PALS

While both medical assistants and PALS certified professionals work in healthcare settings, there are some key differences between the two roles:

  • Scope of practice: Medical assistants have a broader scope of practice and perform a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks. PALS certified professionals, on the other hand, have a more specialized focus on pediatric emergencies.
  • Patient population: Medical assistants work with patients of all ages, while PALS certified professionals specifically work with pediatric patients.
  • Certification: Medical assistants are not required to hold a certification, although many choose to become certified to enhance their job prospects. PALS certification, on the other hand, is a specialized certification specifically for healthcare professionals working with pediatric patients.
  • Training requirements: The training requirements for medical assistants vary depending on the state and employer. Some medical assistants complete a postsecondary education program, while others receive on-the-job training. PALS certification requires completion of a PALS course, which includes both online and hands-on training.
  • Job responsibilities: Medical assistants perform a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks, whereas PALS certified professionals focus primarily on emergency care for pediatric patients.

Medical Assistant vs PALS: Job Description

Medical Assistant Job Description

As mentioned earlier, medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical tasks to support healthcare providers. Their job responsibilities may include:

  • Greeting patients and preparing them for examinations
  • Taking and recording patient histories and vital signs
  • Assisting with medical procedures
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Administering medications and injections
  • Scheduling appointments and managing medical records
  • Billing and coding for insurance purposes
  • Providing patient education and instructions

PALS Job Description

Professionals with PALS certification are typically part of a team that provides emergency care to pediatric patients. Their job responsibilities may include:

  • Assessing and managing pediatric emergencies
  • Initiating and maintaining effective CPR for pediatric patients
  • Administering medications specific to pediatric patients
  • Collaborating with a team during pediatric resuscitation scenarios
  • Communicating with parents and family members during critical situations
  • Ensuring proper documentation of pediatric emergency care
  • Participating in ongoing training and education to stay current with pediatric emergency protocols

Medical Assistant vs PALS: Education and Training

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Medical Assistant Education and Training

The education and training requirements for medical assistants can vary depending on the state and employer. Some medical assistants receive on-the-job training, while others complete a postsecondary education program. Here are some common paths to becoming a medical assistant:

  • Certificate or diploma programs: These programs typically take around one year to complete and cover both clinical and administrative skills.
  • Associate's degree programs: These programs take around two years to complete and provide a more comprehensive education in medical assisting.

While certification is not required to work as a medical assistant, many employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants. The most widely recognized certifications for medical assistants are the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential offered by American Medical Technologists (AMT). To become certified, medical assistants must pass an examination after completing an accredited medical assisting program.

PALS Education and Training

To become PALS certified, healthcare professionals must complete a PALS course that is approved by the American Heart Association (AHA). The course includes both online and hands-on training and covers topics such as pediatric assessment, basic life support, and advanced life support interventions. The course typically takes one to two days to complete, depending on the provider.

It's important to note that PALS certification is available to healthcare professionals who already have a strong foundation in basic life support and have experience working with pediatric patients. Some of the healthcare professionals who may pursue PALS certification include:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Paramedics
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)

Medical Assistant vs PALS: Career Outlook and Salary

Medical Assistant Career Outlook and Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by the increasing demand for healthcare services and the need for administrative support in medical facilities.

The median annual wage for medical assistants was $35,850 in May 2019, according to the BLS. The highest 10 percent earned more than $48,720, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,820. The wage can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the type of healthcare facility.

PALS Career Outlook and Salary

As PALS certification is an additional qualification rather than a standalone profession, the career outlook and salary for PALS certified professionals will vary depending on their primary profession. However, having PALS certification can enhance job prospects and open up opportunities in healthcare settings that specialize in pediatric care or emergency medicine.

According to PayScale, the average salary for healthcare professionals with PALS certification is around $68,000 per year. However, it's important to note that this figure can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the specific role of the professional.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a career path in the healthcare field requires careful consideration of your interests, skills, and long-term goals. Both medical assisting and obtaining a PALS certification can provide rewarding career opportunities in healthcare. While medical assistants have a broader scope of practice and work with patients of all ages, PALS certified professionals focus specifically on emergency care for pediatric patients. The education and training requirements, as well as the job responsibilities and salary potential, differ between the two roles. Ultimately, the right choice for you will depend on your interests, strengths, and career goals.

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Marce Arnejo
Written by
Marce Arnejo

Marce Arnejo is part of the Sales team at Dreambound. Her role involves seeking out schools and institutions to provide valuable opportunities for students seeking a career in the healthcare sector. Beyond her professional life, Marce is passionate about music and gaming. She finds joy in exploring various genres of music and using gaming to unwind and immerse herself in virtual worlds. Her diverse interests enrich her personal life and contribute to her work by bringing new ideas and creativity.

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