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Will earning medical assistant certification help a new RN get a job in a doctor's office?

Monday May 19, 2014
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Hi Donna,

I'm a new RN with only a year’s experience. I would like to be an office nurse working in a doctor’s office, but I am finding most of these positions are held by either LPNs or MAs. Should I try and get a MA certification?

Wants to Work in an Office

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Work in an Office,

While some medical offices employ few if any RNs, many larger practices employ quite a few. I recently was speaking to two new nurses, each with a year's experience, both of whom had just been hired into the same large medical practice. You are looking in the wrong places or are going about finding these types of positions in the wrong way. You most certainly do not, nor should you even consider, taking a medical assistant position or seek MA credentials. You are way beyond that level with your RN degree. Read “Nursing - A new paradigm” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Nursing-A-New-Paradigm) to see where ambulatory care is headed and the role of the RN in it.

The ambulatory care setting is expanding and is where much of care is being delivered today and will be in the future. I suggest you start attending local chapter meetings of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (www.aaacn.org) even as a guest for now. When there's something you want to do it makes sense to rub elbows with those successfully doing it. Networking is a great way to find positions and get hired.

While you continue to look for paid employment in an ambulatory care setting, look for volunteer work as a nurse in a free clinic. These clinics usually are found in inner-cities, rural areas or underserved areas where all/most of the professional health staff volunteer their time and services. Do an Internet search to find one in your area. Volunteering will expand your professional network and often leads to paid employment.

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a new approach. If you do more networking (especially through AAACN) and volunteering as suggested above, you'll pave the way for the type of position you seek.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.