Healthcare is an integral part of any society and medical assistants are vital to keeping healthcare facilities operating at peak performance.
What exactly does a medical assistant do? Many things! Medical assistants are trained in a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. Additionally, they can specialize in a particular field, which may make them more competitive candidates for jobs.
Clinical vs. Administrative Medical Assistant Duties
According to the American Association of Medical Assistants the tasks that medical assistants perform primarily fall into two categories – clinical and administrative.
While medical assistants do not have the same capabilities as physicians or RNs, medical assistants still perform clinical tasks as directed by physicians, as well as routine examinations.
Some clinical duties medical assistants perform are:
- Record patient’s medical history, such as previous diagnosis or current conditions and communicate those to the physician so they can make an informed diagnosis and create an accurate care plan;
- Explain medical matters (such as diagnosis or medical treatment) to the patient and family in “layman’s terms” so they can understand and ask questions;
- Prepare patients for exams, explaining what will take place and walking the patient through each step;
- Perform medical procedures such as: phlebotomy – drawing blood for testing; taking other bodily specimens, testing them, and recording the results; performing EKGs and respiratory testing; removing stitches and sutures; and replacing wound dressings;
- Administer oral, topical, parenteral and rectal medication to patients and coordinating refills if required;
- Prepare for X-rays;
- Sterilization techniques and safely disposing of biomedical waste.
In addition to assisting with clinical duties medical assistants must also be proficient in administrative tasks.
Administrative tasks medical assistants perform are:
- Provide necessary paperwork to new patients and families and answer any questions they may have. Check-in with patients.
- Manage appointment schedules, call patients to make appointments and remind them of upcoming bookings, make sure information is current and appointment schedule is up to date.
- Contact Insurance companies, complete and send necessary forms, assist patients with questions related to their insurance coverage.
In many healthcare clinics and hospitals, medical assistants will be required to complete a combination of both types of job duties and perhaps others depending on the facility.
Career Opportunities for Medical Assistants
There are a variety of career opportunities for medical assistants. It is important for a medical assistant to consider what type of facility they would like to work in and whether specializing in a given field would help them realize their career goals.
Some areas that medical assistants specialize in are:
- Family medicine – this area is broad and pertains to people of all ages. However, there are also specialized fields for children, called pediatrics, and elderly people, called geriatrics;
- Cardiology pertains to the heart health, disease, diagnosis, and prevention;
- Oncology is the diagnosis, research and treatment of cancer;
- Allergy and Immunology focuses on environmental factors, plants and animals that could make people sick;
- Gastroenterology refers to disease and conditions that affect people’s digestive system;
- Ophthalmology pertains to people’s eye health and vision;
- Podiatric relates to foot health;
- Medical billing and coding refers to the complex coding system used to submit statements so patient’s insurance companies can then bill for treatments;
- Health information management refers to maintaining accurate medical records for a medical facility.
In addition to different specializations, medical assistants may work in a variety of facilities. More than half of medical assistants work in Physicians’ Offices. Other common workplaces are state, local or private hospitals; offices of other health practitioners; and outpatient care centers.
A Promising Future
According to the According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) between 2012 and 2022 the sector is expected to grow by an astounding 29%, well above average job growth for other industries. This growth will produce roughly 163,000 new positions across America.
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With First Institute’s Medical Assistant Training Program you can complete your training in 53 weeks and be on your way to starting an exciting career as a healthcare professional. Come kick start your career today!