Medical Assistant Career Profile
Would you like to help others and assist physicians in providing care for their patients? Certified medical assistants perform a diverse range of administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians and other medical practitioners. It’s a quickly growing field, and job outlook is pretty positive. Online schools offer preparation for a medical assistant career through certificate and associate degree programs.
Medical Assistant Job Duties and Tasks
Medical assistants may be responsible for either administrative or clinical tasks, or a combination of both. Whether a certified medical assistant performs only clinical duties, only administrative duties or a combination of the two depends upon the size and location of the practice and the practitioner’s specialty. In small medical offices, medical assistants typically undertake many different duties, tackling both clinical and administrative duties and reporting directly to the physician. However, in large practices, certified medical assistants usually specialize in a particular area, working under the direction and supervision of a department administrator.
Administrative duties can include: scheduling appointments, greeting patients, answering telephones, updating medical records, filling insurance paperwork, arranging outside services, keeping financial records, keeping inventory and ordering supplies and equipment.
Some of the clinical tasks that medical assistants may be required to perform include: interviewing patients to obtain medical information, recording vital signs and statistics, recording patients medical history, explaining treatment procedures, diets, medications and doctor’s instruction to patients, collecting and preparing laboratory specimens, preparing and administering medications as directed by a doctor, preparing treatment rooms by keeping them neat and clean, providing prescription information to pharmacies and authorizing drug refills, assisting physicians with examinations, setting up lab equipment, performing routine lab tests, giving physiotherapy treatments, changing dressings on wounds, operating x-ray, electrocardiogram and other medical equipment to administer routine diagnostic tests, cleaning and sterilizing instruments, and disposing of contaminated supplies.
Work Environments for Medical Assistants
Medical assistants may work in a variety of healthcare settings, including: private clinics, hospitals, outpatient care centers, nursing homes, and residential care facilities. The job typically involves interacting with many other people and handling several responsibilities at once. Medical assistants get the opportunity to develop lasting relationships and the satisfaction of helping people get better. Most of them work a standard 40-hour week, but there are others who work part-time, weekends or evenings.
Medical Assistant Job Outlook
With medical assistant job growth projected to 31% (which is faster than the average for all occupations), the job outlook for this career is excellent. The need to provide basic patient services to allow doctors to administer treatment as well as the addition of medical group practices are some of the reasons behind the projected increase in demand for medical assistants.
Career Paths for Medical Assistants
Becoming a medical assistant is the first step toward an entry-level position in the healthcare field. Certified medical assistants can move their career forward through additional training to qualify for advanced roles, such as office manager and clinical supervisor positions. They may also qualify for positions in other healthcare fields, such as health services management, public health, social work, clinical laboratory testing, nursing, and medical assistant education.