The medical assistant job description depends on the type of medical assistant, whether it be a clerical medical assistant, administrative medical assistant, clinical medical assistant, or specialized medical assistant. The duties of the job and the salary offered may also depend on whether or not the candidate has had formal training and obtained their medical assistant certification.
What Is A Medical Assistant?
The medical assistant works in the office of health practitioners, such as physicians, chiropractors, and podiatrists, and performs various tasks that help to keep the office running smoothly. Depending on what their employer requires, they may handle clinical, clerical, administrative, or specialized duties, or a combination of the four. The duties that are assigned to them differ according to the type, size, and location of the practice. For instance, those who work in larger practices that typically keep a number of medical assistants on staff, can be assigned duties in that are specialized in specific area. On the other hand, if the practice is small, the medical assistant may be required to handle more of a variety of duties and responsibilities.
What Does A Medical Assistant Do?
Your medical assistant duties will depend on the type of medical assistant position being offered as well as your level of training and whether or not you have obtained your certification. The following are the four types of medical assistants along with a general outline of their duties.
Clerical Medical Assistants
The duties of a clerical medical assistant are usually routine such as answering phones, greeting and accommodating patients, scheduling appointments, typing, sorting and filing, and handling mail. While these may seem like typical clerical duties, they are, nonetheless, an important part of keeping a medical office running smoothly.
Administrative Medical Assistants
The duties of an administrative medical assistant are more medical-related. These duties may include updating patient files, completing and submitting insurance forms, scheduling medical tests, arranging hospital admissions, patient billing, medical billing, and bookkeeping. In addition they may perform other clerical duties as required by the practice.
Clinical Medical Assistants
State laws determine clinical medical assistant duties and which ones the assistant will be permitted to perform. Their position with the practice is even more medical-related than the those of administrative or clerical medical assistants. Some of their duties may include taking the patient’s medical history, recording and documenting vital signs, reviewing and explaining treatment procedures to the patient, preparing patients for medical examinations and assisting the physician during the exam, performing basic lab tests, sterilizing medical instruments, and disposing of contaminated supplies.
Under the direction of the physician, the clinical medical assistant may also, instruct patients about certain medications and special diets, call in prescriptions to a pharmacy or authorize refills of a medication, prepare and administer medication, draw blood, change wound dressings, remove sutures, prepare a patient for X-rays, and at times perform electrocardiograms.
Specialized Medical Assistants
Specialized medical assistants are medical assistants that specialize in a specific field, for example, an ophthalmic medical assistant. An ophthalmic medical assistant would help the ophthalmologist provide eye care to patients by conducting diagnostic tests, testing eye muscle function, and helping patients learn how to use and care for contact lenses. In addition, they may also be required to assist the ophthalmologist in surgery.
Medical Assistant Certification
Not all medical practices require prospective employees to have their medical assistant certification, however, the more advanced the position is and the more duties that are required, a medical assistant certification will put you in a better position to secure employment. It will also indicate that you have met certain standards to obtain the required knowledge for the position, which can lead to a higher salary, more employment opportunities and advancement in the field.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMT) are two of the various associations that award medical assistant certification credentials. The process for certification varies depending on the association.
It is not unusual for medical assistants to advance to other positions in the healthcare field, whether through experience or additional training. Specialized medical assistants may become nurses and administrative medical assistants may advance to medical office managers.
Medical Assistant Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical assistants is projected to grow much faster than average, at a growth of 34 percent between 2008 and 2018. It is one of the fastest growing occupations and opportunities for employment should be excellent – even more so for those who have gone through formal training and have received their medical assistant certification.
The expansion of the healthcare industry, advances in medicine, the growth of an aging population in combination with the expanding number of medical practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, are increasing the demand for medical assistants and driving the growth of this field.
Choosing to become a medical assistant is an excellent career choice. To better help you decide whether you want to become a clerical, administrative, clinical or specialized medical assistant, find out what the demand is in your area by checking employment ads. Pay close attention to the medical assistant job description in the ads, which will not only outline the job duties, but will specify education, training, and certification requirements as well.