The healthcare field offers a wide range of careers to choose from. When you want a job that involves handling several administrative or clinical tasks in a medical setting, a medical assistant (MA) career could be right for you. MAs might not provide the same level of care as doctors and nurses, but they play a valuable role in ensuring that patients are able to receive high-quality care. What do medical assistants do? Learning more about medical assistant responsibilities and duties can help you understand this career better and decide if it’s a good career path for you.
Medical assistants are healthcare workers who handle clinical and administrative duties and tasks in medical facilities. MAs can work in several kinds of medical settings, including hospitals, care facilities, private practices, and clinics. The duties and responsibilities that medical assistants perform, such as assisting doctors and nurses with exams, help these facilities provide patients with quality care.
What is a medical assistant’s day like? The MA duties you can expect to handle on the job can vary, depending on the kind of medical facility you work at and other factors, such as state laws. Your duties might vary if you are a clinical medical assistant rather than an administrative medical assistant, for example. The duties of a medical assistant can also vary based on specializations. Below are insights into the kinds of daily duties and tasks medical assistants might perform based on where they will work.
Medical assistant duties for those who work in clinics might include both administrative and clinical tasks, especially in smaller clinics. These MAs are usually expected to handle a wide range of tasks in order to keep clinics running smoothly. Some of the duties these MAs might perform include providing patients with instructions on general care or medicine, taking out sutures, changing dressings on wounds, taking vital signs, and getting blood samples ready for lab tests. MAs in clinics might also assist doctors and nurses during patient exams, update medical records, and record each patient’s medical history. Medical assistants who work in clinics might have other duties as well, such as answering phones and scheduling patient appointments. MAs might work regular hours or be expected to work after hours or on weekends, depending on the type of clinic they work for, such as an urgent care clinic.
MAs who work in hospitals often have duties that are tied to the department they work in. This might include a mix of administrative and clinical duties and responsibilities, such as greeting visitors, coordinating billing and insurance, administering medication, and assisting patient care teams as needed. In some cases, MAs who work in hospitals might have lab-based duties, such as obtaining samples of urine, blood, or stool and performing lab tests. MAs in hospitals might also have similar duties as those who work in clinics, such as updating medical records and measuring vital signs. Those who work in hospitals might have irregular hours or longer shifts and might need to work on holidays or weekends, since these medical facilities are open around the clock.
Medical assistants who work in private practices might perform clinical and administrative duties or focus more on one type or the other. For example, some MAs in private practices might mainly be responsible for administrative tasks, such as answering phones to triage calls, setting up patient appointments, and filling out insurance forms and other paperwork. Other MAs might focus more on clinical tasks, such as assisting nurses and doctors during patient exams, cleaning exam rooms, sterilizing medical equipment, measuring blood pressure and other vital signs, and giving medicine or injections. Private practices that are smaller might expect medical assistants to help with both administrative and clinical duties as needed.
What kinds of skills do medical assistants need to successfully perform their duties? Since they might be expected to handle a wide range of tasks and duties on the job, MAs need a variety of technical and soft skills. All MAs should have solid communication and interpersonal skills as well as administrative skills, in order to update patient records and handle billing and insurance tasks. They should also have good scheduling and organizational skills. MAs also need clinical skills, such as patient care, measuring and monitoring vital signs, and performing phlebotomy for those who will need to take blood samples.
Medical assistants can specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as working with a set age group or with patients who have certain conditions. Having a specialization allows medical assistants to perform duties they might not have as a general medical assistant. For example, medical assistants with a specialization in oncology handle tasks related to cancer care, such as providing support for chemotherapy teams.
Several kinds of MA specializations are available. You can choose a specialization that fits your healthcare interests and career goals. Some MAs specialize in helping patients in a particular age group. For example, pediatric MAs work with younger patients. MAs with a specialization in gerontology or geriatric care work with older patients.
MA specializations also include specific areas of medicine within the healthcare field, including cardiology, oncology, obstetrics and gynecology, chiropractic care, or podiatry. MAs can also specialize in dermatology, neurology, gastroenterology, or orthopedics. If you have a strong interest in a particular area of medicine or if you prefer working with patients in a certain age group, you can explore your options for MA specializations in order to build a rewarding career.
You can get your medical assisting training started with the Medical Assistant Certificate Program at The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP). This program can help you develop the skills you’ll be using as a medical assistant. During the program, you can expect to receive instruction in clinical and administrative MA skills. Our on-campus program, which is available at all of our campuses in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, McAllen, and San Antonio, as well as online, includes courses that cover a wide range of material for those who want to be medical assistants, including medical law and ethics, phlebotomy, patient history intake, vital sign recording, insurance and billing, EKG, injections, and routine patient exams.
Our program is designed to help you on your journey to become a certified medical assistant. Part of this program involves helping students prepare to take the certification exam for medical assistants. With an MA certificate, you will have the option to advance your career in our stackable Accelerate Programs, such as going into our Health and Medical Administrative Services (HMAS) Program to work as a healthcare professional.
If you would like more information on our Medical Assistant Certificate Program, please contact CHCP today. We can give you more details on this program and let you know how to get started on the admissions process.