Frontline Workers’ Career Pathways: A Detailed Look at Washington State’s Medical Assistant Workforce



  • Abstract

    Medical assistants (MAs) are key members of the healthcare team, with expanding roles in office and clinic-based health care settings, and in 2015 there were 500,000 to 600,000 employed MAs in the U.S. MAs are listed among the 20 fastest-growing occupations in the nation, fueled by increasing demand for primary care services and mounting pressure to reduce healthcare costs through task shifting to lower-cost providers. In Washington, the only state to credential MAs, employers report that recruiting and maintaining a qualified MA workforce is difficult despite a relatively large number of MAs relative to demand. Understanding how MAs’ backgrounds and education pathways align with their job settings and roles, as well as their attitudes and perceptions about career pathway opportunities, is important for developing effective recruitment and retention strategies for MAs and other frontline workers who provide routine but essential services across healthcare settings. This study used original survey data to examine the characteristics and roles of a defined MA workforce and the relationship to MAs’ career pathways.


  • Authors:

    Skillman SM, Dahal AD, Frogner BK, Andrilla CHA

  • Journal/Publisher:

    Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington

  • Edition:

    Dec 2018.

  • Documents:

    Policy Brief

  • Citation:

    Skillman SM, Dahal AD, Frogner BK, Andrilla CHA. Frontline Workers’ Career Pathways: A Detailed Look at Washington State’s Medical Assistant Workforce. Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Dec 2018.

  • Related Studies:

    Expanding Role of Medical Assistants