What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Are you interested in a career that includes performing both clinical and clerical duties in a doctor's office, hospital and other medical setting? If so, becoming a medical assistant might be right for you. Read on to find out more about your daily responsibilities as a medical assistant. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Medical Assistant Defined
As a medical assistant, you provide assistance in the office of a private practice physician or a hospital or outpatient medical facility. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), you don't need formal training or education, although you should have a high school diploma. Generally, you receive on-the-job training. Alternatively, you may enroll in a formal training program at a vocation school or community college.
Becoming a certified medical assistant (CMA) may enhance your career options. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) grants certification after you complete an accredited medical assistant program and pass the certification exam (www.aama-ntl.org). CMAs must recertify every five years by taking continuing education classes or by resitting the exam. If you choose to specialize in ophthalmology, optometry or podiatry medical assisting, you can seek certification in your speciality.
Medical Assistant Job Responsibilities
The scope of your medical assistant duties depends on the type and size of the medical practice or facility where you work, as well as the physician's specialty. Usually, you report directly to the supervising office manager or physician.
Your clerical duties may include administrative tasks like making appointments, handling insurance forms and billing customers. You might also file medical records, admit patients into the hospital and order laboratory tests. In some facilities, you might play the role of liaison between your supervising physician and his or her patients or their families.
Your clinical duties may vary, depending on the laws in the state where you work. Tasks may include interviewing patients about their medical histories, checking their vital signs and getting patients ready for exams. You might also assist physicians during examinations, as well as maintaining the sterility of the surgical space and instruments.
You are sometimes responsible for collecting laboratory specimens, giving patients their pills and other medications under the supervision of a physician and removing sutures or changing bandages. Your state may let you perform advanced procedures, such as taking x-rays or giving injections, after taking additional courses or passing a test.
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