Medical Assistant Job Description

A Medical Assistant’s Career

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Medical Assistant Job Description

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Medical assistants are becoming an increasingly vital part of healthcare teams around the world. A medical assistant is often something of a jack-of-all-trades in the medical world, bringing a bevy of skills to their job of assisting physicians and medical personnel. Their work may range from administrational tasks like updating and filing medical records, to clinical work like sterilizing equipment and taking vital signs.

The Medical Assistant’s Job Outlook

As physicians face larger and larger demands on their time and skills, they are being forced to bring in additional help. Many hospitals are looking for cost-effective ways to manage patient care, and medical assistants fit that role perfectly. Medical assistants are being hired at an increasing rate, as they are able to take on the routine administrative and clinical duties, thus freeing the doctors and nurses up to see more patients.

Thanks to this demand across the spectrum of the medical industry, employment in the field of medical assisting is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 31 percent growth in the field by the year 2020. This is much faster than the overall average growth in all occupations.

A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant

Since there are a limited number of doctors at any given hospital, a huge load falls on the medical assistants who are responsible for everything from running the office to assisting doctors and nurses with patient care. The assistant will need to be trained in basic patient care procedures as well as myriad administrational tasks like insurance processing, appointment scheduling and more.

A typical day for a medical assistant will usually include a lot of office work. They will generally need to arrive long before the office opens so that they can look over the day’s appointments and prepare patient records and charts that the doctor will need when he arrives.

As patients begin to arrive, the medical assistant will help them fill out forms and then verify all the information once the forms are completed. He will collect and verify patients’ insurance information, and then submit claims once patients have been treated. When she has a spare moment, the assistant might spend time at the computer, logging patient charts in to the clinic’s database.

In between greeting and processing patients as they arrive, the medical assistant will typically be answering phone calls and scheduling, canceling or rearranging appointments with returning patients. The doctor or nurses may also ask the assistant to make phone calls to the pharmacy for needed prescriptions. She may even be responsible for keeping office supplies stocked and on hand.

Later in the day, the assistant might be called in to help the doctor as he sees his patients. The medical assistant will typically be the first one to interact with patients as they are ushered in to the doctor’s examination room. The assistant will make the patient comfortable and then take their temperature, blood pressure, and check any other necessary vital signs. She’ll also talk with the patient a little about their symptoms and record all the information for the doctor.

After the doctor sees the patient, the medical assistant will make sure that all the doctor’s instructions were properly understood. She’ll answer any questions they might have and she’ll make sure they understand how to take their medications.

As each patient comes through, the assistant will make sure the room is prepared with sterile equipment and all that the doctor will need. The doctor may also instruct the assistant to perform minor procedures as patients are processed. She may be asked to give a tetanus shot to a kid who stepped on a rusty nail, or she might need to draw blood or other specimens for testing.

Of course, these are just some of the basic tasks that a medical assistant might perform in a day. Medical assistants do have the opportunity to specialize in a specific field. Dermatologists, podiatrists, optometrists, and other specialists all benefit from the services of medical assistants. Assistants working for a specialist will have tasks specific to the field along with the basic administrational duties of running a medical office.

Some Handy Skills

Because the medical assistant works so closely with patients, it’s very important that they develop strong listening and communication skills. They will need to give their full attention when a patient is explaining their symptoms or when a doctor makes a request. They will also need to convey information accurately and clearly so that instructions are fully understood.

The assistant will need to manage her time well, as each day will be busy and no time can be wasted. She’ll need good troubleshooting skills as well as good logic and reasoning as she’ll be called on to tackle tricky issues or prickly patients.

Finally, she’ll need to be highly service-oriented. Patients may be in pain or afraid; doctors may be stressed or tired. The assistant will need to actively look for ways to help and serve.

Further Opportunities

While the duties of a medical assistant may be broad, the advancement ladder is a fairly short one. Because of this, many assistants choose to further their education in order to branch into other health care careers. Some may go into nursing, while others might pursue an advanced degree in medicine. Some prefer the nonadministrative aspects of the medical office and choose to become office managers. Others still may remain assistants but will go into a specialty field.

 Related Resources:

Wikipedia Medical Assistant

Article in US News on Medical Assistants

5 Responses to Medical Assistant Job Description

  1. Greg on November 25, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Hi, you’ve built a nice website. Thank you.

    When I was recovering from my bypass operation, I found that each level of the medical staff had its extremely important place in my recovery. The doctors, understandably, were guiding things from the top. Yet I only saw them twice a day for a few minutes. The nursing staff on all levels, and believe me I couldn’t tell you who was who, but I know that there were more than one level, because sometimes they told me that “I’ll get a nurse for you, he/she has to do what you’re asking…” These people I saw most of the day. And even the physiotherapists who guided me how to walk again — every level of the medical staff had their place, and I remember that I was very much appreciative to everyone who helped me recover.

    I hope you are successful at helping new medical career people enter the system, keep up the good work.


    • Bob on November 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Wow, thank you for sharing your story, Greg. I wish you good health always.

  2. Joina on March 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Medical assistants who are accountable for everything from running the office to assisting doctors and nurses with patient care. I am very much pleased to be satisfied with my career.

    Recommendations and tips are very useful and help anyone in choosing the right career. Truly awesome.

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