What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants work alongside physicians, mainly in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics.
In Demand | Medical assisting is one of the nation's careers growing much faster than average for all occupations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, attributing job growth to the following:
- Predicted surge in the number of physicians' offices and outpatient care facilities
- Technological advancements
- Growing number of elderly Americans who need medical treatment
Job Responsibilities | Medical assistants are cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical duties.
Here is a quick overview (duties vary from office to office depending on location, size, specialty, and state law):
Administrative Duties (may include, but not limited to):
- Using computer applications
- Answering telephones
- Greeting patients
- Updating and filing patient medical records
- Coding and filling out insurance forms
- Scheduling appointments
- Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
- Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping
Clinical Duties (may include, but not limited to):
- Taking medical histories
- Explaining treatment procedures to patients
- Preparing patients for examination
- Assisting the physician during exams
- Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
- Performing basic laboratory tests
- Instructing patients about medication and special diets
- Preparing and administering medications as directed by a physician
- Authorizing prescription refills as directed
- Drawing blood
- Taking electrocardiograms
- Removing sutures and changing dressings
Patient Liaison | Medical assistants are instrumental in helping patients feel at ease in the physician’s office and often explain the physician's instructions.
PCMH Team Member | Medical assistants are essential members of the Patient-Centered Medical Home team. According to a survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network, medical assistants ranked as one of the top five professionals necessary to the PCMH team.
CMA (AAMA) Certification | Many employers of allied health personnel prefer, or even insist, that their medical assistants are CMA (AAMA) certified.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers certification to graduates of medical assisting programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).