What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Medical assistants are allied health professionals who support the work of physicians and other health professionals, usually in outpatient clinics.

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Job Description

A medical assistant is a person who has completed an accredited medical assisting program and has passed a certification exam. Job duties vary depending on the state in which they work, but most Medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical tasks in physician offices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.

Some of their duties include greeting patients, scheduling appointments, taking patient histories and vital signs, preparing patients for examination, assisting the physician during the examination, performing laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures, giving patients instructions for follow-up care, and handling billing and insurance paperwork. Some medical assistants also help prepare medications and give injections under the direction of a physician.

Duties and Responsibilities

Although their duties and responsibilities may vary slightly depending on their employer and level of experience, there are certain tasks that medical assistants perform on a daily basis. These may include:

• Answering patients’ questions and providing them with instruction
• Measuring patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure and weight
• Performing basic lab tests, such as urine analysis
• Preparing patients for examinations
• Assisting the physician during examinations
• Scheduling appointments and arranging for patients to be seen by specialists
• Maintaining medical records
• Ordering supplies and managing inventory

Skills and Qualifications

In order to become a medical assistant there are certain skills and qualifications you will need. Firstly, you should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Secondly, you will need to complete an accredited medical assistant program. Upon completion of your medical assistant program, you will need to pass a certification exam, such as the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Once you have passed your certification exam, you will be ready to begin your career as a medical assistant!

Education and Training

A career as a medical assistant does not require a formal education, but most employers prefer candidates who have completed an accredited postsecondary medical assisting program. These programs typically last one year, although some community colleges offer two-year associate degree programs.

While enrolled in a medical assisting program, students take courses in anatomy, physiology, Medical Terminology and administrative office procedures. Students also receive training in basic laboratory techniques and clinical procedures such as taking patient vital signs, assisting with examinations and minor surgical procedures, performing routine laboratory tests, drawing blood, and administering medications.

Salary and Job Outlook

Medical assistants are in high demand and the job outlook is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.1 The median annual wage for medical assistants was $33,610 in May 2018.2

While many medical assistants start out with on-the-job training, some choose to get formal education and certification. Employers increasingly prefer candidates with formal training, and certification can give job seekers a competitive edge.


Becoming a certified medical assistant
A medical assistant is a multi-skilled professional who supports the work of physicians and other health care providers. Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks in physician offices, clinics, managed care organizations, hospitals, and other health care facilities. They are usually responsible for a variety of tasks, including scheduling appointments, verifying insurance coverage, taking and recording patients’ medical histories and vital signs, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, administering medications and performing routine laboratory tests. Many medical assistants have additional responsibilities such as handling billing and coding, maintaining medical records ordering supplies and equipment, providing patient education or assisting with minor office surgery.

Advancement Opportunities

The title of medical assistant is an entry-level position in the medical field. With on-the-job training or completion of a postsecondary certificate or diploma program, medical assistants can find employment in a variety of healthcare settings, such as physicians’ offices, hospitals, and clinics. Duties vary by employer but often include taking and recording patient medical histories and vital signs, updating and filing patients’ Medical records scheduling appointments, handling correspondence, ordering supplies and equipment, performing basic laboratory tests, administering medications (as directed by a physician), explaining treatment procedures to patients, helping patients to understand their billing statements and insurance coverage. Once they have completed their training and gained some experience on the job, medical assistants may choose to specialize in a particular area of medicine or surgery such as ophthalmology or podiatry. They may also choose to further their education by completing an associate degree program in medical assisting. With additional education and training, medical assistants may find advancement opportunities in areas such as management or education.

Working Conditions

Medical assistants work in clean, well-lighted, and well-ventilated offices, clinics, or hospitals. They spend a lot of time on their feet and may have to lift or turn disabled patients.

Job outlook

Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population is expected to lead to increases in the number of office visits to physicians, and hence the demand for medical assistants will grow. In addition, as physicians have been hiring more assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, they are able to see more patients.


A medical assistant is a person who performs administrative and certain clinical tasks in a medical office. They work under the direct supervision of an licensed healthcare professional, usually a physician or registered nurse.

Medical assistants are found in all types of healthcare settings, from small physician offices to large hospitals. Some medical assistants specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as pediatrics or ophthalmology.

The duties of a medical assistant vary from office to office, but there are some common tasks that most medical assistants perform on a daily basis. These tasks may include:

-Answering patient phone calls and scheduling appointments
-Taking and recording patient vital signs
-Preparing patients for examination
-Assisting the physician during the exam
-Collecting and processing lab specimens
-Performing basic laboratory tests
-Instructing patients on medication and special diets
– handling billing and insurance claims

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