Medical Assistant Job Description: What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Medical Assistant Job Description: What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

8 November 2019 By Kate

Medical Assistant Job Description: What Does a Medical Assistant Do

Medical assistants work as important members of medical teams. They can work in outpatient clinics or ambulatory care clinics. The role of a medical assistant can vary depending on whether they work for physicians, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, and other medical care providers. 

Medical assistants have clinical and administrative duties. Often, medical assistants are referred to as “generalists” but they can specialize in larger offices and clinics. A career as a medical assistant can be challenging, fascinating, and rewarding.

If you’re starting a medical assistant career, you’ll be cross-trained for administrative and clinical duties.

What are some administrative duties of a medical assistant?

The administrative role of a medical assistant involves office support and administrative duties that help keep the office or clinic running smoothly.

  • Answering phones
  • Greeting patients
  • Updating and filing patient medical records
  • Using computer and mobile device applications
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable
  • Preparing correspondence for your office
  • Contacting other providers, facilitating referrals, and scheduling lab services

You’ll also work with patients and support your provider through clinical duties. Learning how to work with patients is part of your cross-training as a medical assistant.

What are some clinical duties of a medical assistant?

The clinical role of a medical assistant includes work with patients and fellow healthcare team members. Some of your clinical duties will include:

  • Preparing patients for exams
  • Recording vital signs
  • Assisting providers during exams
  • Collecting and preparing lab specimens
  • Sterilizing medical equipment
  • Instructing patients about medications, diets, and other instructions
  • Taking patient medical histories
  • Removing sutures or changing dressings
  • Drawing blood
  • Explaining procedures to patients

What skills do medical assistants use in their administrative and clinical duties?

Your training and education as a medical assistant should include the following medical and clinical skills:

  • Human anatomy, pathology, and physiology
  • Medical terms
  • Medical coding and insurance processing
  • Lab techniques
  • Clinical procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Administering medicine
  • First Aid
  • Medical ethics and legal requirements

You’ll also receive training in the following administrative skills:

  • Keyboarding and computer apps
  • Recordkeeping and accounting
  • Office management and best practices
  • Office etiquette and relations with patients and co-workers

Why is a medical assistant career one of the fastest-growing careers?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that over 150,000 new medical assistant jobs will be added between now and 2028. They say that medical assistant career opportunities will grow by 23%, which is much faster than average.

The reason for so much growth? More medical care is already needed for a rapidly-growing older population. With more services in demand, more medical professionals are needed, including medical assistants. The places medical assistants will work and the types of offices they work in could also change in the coming decade. A greater focus on preventive medicine, general health, and new medical techniques could change some clinical and administrative duties performed by medical assistants. 

In any case, this is a fast-growing job field with many qualified medical assistants needed.

What are my job prospects as a medical assistant in Oregon?

As of 2018, Oregon had over 12,900 full-time medical assistants. Oregon was one of the five states with the highest level of employment for medical assistants, as well as one of the highest annual mean wages at over $38,000 a year. 

Coastal Oregon had one of the nation’s highest concentrations of medical assistants, along with Central Oregon, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This adds up to many opportunities for qualified medical assistants in Oregon.

What are my opportunities for advancement as a medical assistant?

After graduating from your Medical Assisting program, you can take the AMT (American Medical Technologist) Exam to become a Registered Medical Assistant. You can also take the National Certified Medical Assisting (NCMA) exam. If you add X-Ray training, you can work in limited scope X-Ray positions after passing your AART exam and obtaining licensing through the Oregon Board of Medical Imaging (OBMI).

You can work as a medical assistant, and as a health plan coordinator and medical insurance customer service representative. After you complete your externship, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of office or clinic where you’d like to start working.

You can gain additional skills in computer and healthcare information technology. You may be able to advance in healthcare information technology, or as a medical office or clinic manager.

Your complete job duties as a medical assistant will vary depending upon the healthcare business where you work. Medical assistants for chiropractors, physicians, podiatrists, and optometrists have varying duties and responsibilities. If you specialize in long-term care, work as part of a home care team, or at a specialized clinic or laboratory, you’ll develop additional expertise and perform additional specific duties.

Earn Your Medical Assisting Degree 

A medical assistant career can be a great introduction to working in the medical and healthcare industry. As technology evolves, your duties are likely to change. You can also investigate opportunities for more training and education.

If you are committed to being a strong team member helping patients to be as healthy as possible, you’ll have a rewarding and challenging career as a medical assistant. Reach out to an Admissions Officer at Pioneer Pacific College to discuss which program is right for you.

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