Before diving into the nuances of a clinical medical assistant, it’s important to understand what a medical assistant does in general. Often viewed as the heart of healthcare, medical assistants act as a bridge between patient and provider, helping to ensure quality patient care. Typically, this means performing a range of administrative and clinical tasks, depending on both the needs of the facility and state laws or regulations. 

As expected, clinical medical assistants lean into the clinical duties of the role more than the administrative tasks of a medical assistant. To get a better understanding of what a clinical medical assistant is, what they do, and how to become a clinical medical assistant, we’ve created an overview of this essential healthcare role.

In This Article:

Clinical Medical Assistant Job Description Overview

The day-to-day experience and responsibilities of a clinical medical assistant can largely depend on the needs of the medical facility in which they work. For example, clinical medical assistants who work in a physician’s office may have a more routine schedule than those who work in a hospital or emergency room setting. Others who work in a small clinic may have more overlap between clinical and administrative duties, due to a smaller staff. 

Medical assistants may work in private, local, or state hospitals; outpatient clinics or doctor’s offices; clinical laboratories; long-term medical care facilities; and group medical practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 56% of medical assistants work in doctors’ offices, roughly 15% work in hospitals, and around 9% work in outpatient care centers. These assistants usually work full-time, and those who work in medical facilities that are open around the clock might be expected to work holidays, weekends, and evenings.

Regardless of their location, however, clinical medical assistants typically have a fast-paced work environment. Pursuing a career in clinical medical assisting means being comfortable handling a wide range of clinical tasks throughout the day, as well as having an abundance of patient interaction.

Clinical Medical Assistant Duties

So, what do clinical medical assistants do? The tasks and responsibilities of a clinical medical assistant can vary due to state laws, regulations, and the needs of the work environment, but generally involve basic levels of patient care and assisting providers. While not comprehensive, the following list provides a few examples of what a clinical medical assistant may be tasked with in their role, depending on their certification and state laws.

  • Taking blood pressure and other vital signs

  • Sterilizing medical instruments or equipment

  • Noting patients’ medical histories

  • Assisting providers with exams

  • Updating medical records

  • Collecting and preparing blood samples for testing

  • Administering medications or injections under supervision


Specializations for Clinical Medical Assistants

In the same way that medical assistants in general can specialize in a specific field of medicine, clinical medical assistants may also choose to specialize. This can mean choosing a specific area of medicine, such as becoming an ophthalmic assistant, or choosing to work with patients who are within a certain age group such as pediatrics or gerontology. 

Some clinical medical assistants specialize in cardiology, podiatry, chiropractic care, or orthopedics. Medical assistants with a specialization might have specific duties and responsibilities related to that area of medicine, such as learning to operate EKG machines for cardiology. Other specialization options for clinical medical assistants include pursuing official certifications to further their careers.

Clinical Medical Assistant Salary & Career Outlook

Medical assisting, including clinical medical assisting, is experiencing a high growth rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for medical assistants from 2022-2032 is promising, with a 14% expected growth rate that outpaces the average job outlook for the country. Consequently, professionals working as clinical medical assistants with certification may have the potential to find an even wider range of job opportunities in the coming years.

As a certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA), you might have opportunities to increase your salary, especially as you gain experience. Keep in mind that salaries for CCMAs can vary based on the kind of medical setting you work in and other factors, such as the years of experience you have.

How to Become a Clinical Medical Assistant 

Although clinical medical assistants are potentially capable of finding jobs with a high school diploma or GED, many employers prefer to hire those who have certification and additional training. This means taking an approved training program at a college or university, which can generally take up to a year to complete but may be completed in a shorter time frame. 

Medical Assistant Certifications | CCMA vs CMA 

In addition to taking an accredited training program, those who want to become a certified medical assistant need to apply for and take a certification exam. Aspiring clinical medical assistants may choose to pursue a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification and title, which is different from the more general Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Those who would prefer to perform administrative and clinical tasks would benefit from the latter, as some locations have restrictions on a CCMA’s authorization to be involved with patient medical records or privacy.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to meet the eligibility requirements for an exam and take it within a certain timeframe as a completing student or a recent graduate. Students may take the exam no more than 30 days before completing the training program and must take it within 12 months of graduation. You’ll also need to spend time preparing for your certification exam through careful study, practice tests, and more

CCMA Certification

The National Healthcareer Association is responsible for CCMA certifications. Those who wish to take the CCMA exam must have received a high school diploma or GED and have graduated from an accredited or military medical assistance program, worked for at least a year as an MA, or worked in an approved apprenticeship for at least a year. 

CMA Certification

Those who wish to sit for the CMA exam will need to have completed the eligibility requirements for the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), including completing a program with accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs; the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). For more comprehensive information on all types of medical assistant certifications, you can explore our guide to choosing the right MA certification for you

Clinical Medical Assistant Programs & Training - Getting Started with CHCP

If you want to get started on a career as a clinical medical assistant, contact The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) about the Medical Assistant Certificate Program

Our on-campus, blended delivery program is now available in two formats: two days per week on campus and our new one-day per week on-campus training option. Both options include additional online studies as the second component of the course and are available in several Texas locations, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, McAllen, and San Antonio. This 36-week program can help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to begin pursuing a career in clinical medical assisting. The program is also available online for added flexibility, and both the blended and online programs can help you prepare to take the certification credentialing exam.

Get In Touch

Interested in learning more about medical assistant training and education opportunities? Fill out our contact form today to speak with an admissions advisor and explore your MA program options at CHCP, an ABHES Accredited Allied Healthcare College dedicated to educating aspiring medical professionals.