What Does a Medical Assistant Do? (With Pictures)

Get detailed information on the duties and responsibilities of medical assistants, as well as what skills and training are necessary for this growing profession.

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Job Description

A medical assistant is a professional who is trained to provide basic medical care and perform administrative tasks in a medical facility. Medical assistants are not licensed medical professionals, but they play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.

The exact duties of a medical assistant depend on the state in which they work and the specific needs of their employer, but there are some tasks that are commonly performed by medical assistants. These duties include greeting patients, scheduling appointments, taking patient medical histories, handling insurance paperwork, and assisting the doctor or nurse with patient exams.

Medical assistants must be able to effectively communicate with patients, doctors, and other members of the healthcare team. They must also be detail-oriented and organized, as they often juggle multiple tasks at once. Mostmedical assistants have at least a high school diploma, although some have completed formal training programs.

Duties

Medical assistants perform a variety of duties to support the work of physicians, podiatrists, and other health care providers. Their responsibilities may include taking and transcribing medical histories, answering patients’ questions, updating records, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, administering medications, handling insurance forms, and scheduling appointments.

Some medical assistants also perform basic laboratory tests, prepare x-rays, remove stitches, instruct patients on wound care, change dressings on wounds or burns, take electrocardiograms (EKGs), give injections and vaccinations according to physicians’ orders (Under supervision), and apply ice packs and hot compresses.

Salary

Medical assistants form an important part of the healthcare industry. They work in clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices, performing a variety of tasks to keep the medical facility running smoothly. The median salary for medical assistants was $30,590 in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education and Training

Medical assistants perform a wide variety of tasks in doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities. They might take patients’ vital signs, prepare them for examination, collect and process laboratory specimens, assist with minor surgical procedures, give injections, and perform other duties as needed. Although most medical assistants have completed postsecondary education programs, some states allow them to begin working after completing on-the-job training. Those who wish to advance in their careers can become certified medical assistants or pursue other medical assisting roles such as administrative medical assistant or clinical medical assistant.

Skills

Medical assistants perform many tasks in doctors’ offices and clinics. Most of their work day is spent interacting with patients. They might take a patient’s medical history, vital signs, or handle insurance forms.MA’s also might give injections, remove sutures, perform EKGs, prepare patients for X-rays, change dressings on wounds, and assist the doctor during an examination.

Some of the duties of a medical assistant are:
-Answering telephones
-Scheduling appointments
-Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
-Taking and recording medical histories and vital signs
-Preparing patients for examination
-Assisting the physician during the examination
-Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
-Performing basic laboratory tests
-Instructing patients about medication and special diets
-Authorizing prescription refills as directed by the physician
-Drawing blood
-Maintaining medical records
-Billing and coding insurance forms

Work Schedule

Most medical assistants work full time. However, about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2016. Because many medical offices are open during evenings and weekends, medical assistants may be scheduled to work some evenings and weekends. Overtime also may be needed to handle increased patient volume or other emergencies.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom generation will continue to increase demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by physicians. As a result, physicians will increasingly need to delegate tasks to medical assistants. In addition, as technological advances in medicine allow physicians to treat more patients in a day, medical assistants will play an even greater role in meeting patient demand by stocking examination rooms, scheduling appointments, and handling laboratory work and other basic duties.

Pros and Cons

Most people who become medical assistants do so because they genuinely want to help people. They have a genuine interest in the medical field and want to be an important part of a healthcare team. They usually have good communication skills and are patient, detail-oriented, and organized.

There are, however, some downsides to the job. For example, medical assistants may sometimes be exposed to contagious diseases, such as the flu or hepatitis. They may also witness disturbing procedures or be required to handle graphic materials, such as X-rays. In addition, they may work long hours, including evenings and weekends.

What to Expect

If you’re thinking about becoming a medical assistant, you probably have a lot of questions about what the job entails. What would my day-to-day tasks be? What kind of interaction would I have with patients? How much does a medical assistant make?

To help answer some of these questions, we spoke with three medical assistants about their experiences working in the field. Here’s what they had to say about what it’s really like to be a medical assistant.

FAQs

1. What does a medical assistant do?
2. What are the duties of a medical assistant?
3. What is the job outlook for medical assistants?
4. What are the requirements to become a medical assistant?
5. How much does a medical assistant make?
6. What are the hours like for a medical assistant?
7. What are the working conditions for a medical assistant?
8. What are the benefits of being a medical assistant?

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