medical assistant working

What does a Medical Assistant do?

Medical assistants work in a variety of clinical settings and help document a patient’s history and personal information. They may also schedule patients appointments, answer phones, and even check a patient’s vitals. Some medical assistants are certified, which means they are trained in medical services as well as associated administrative tasks.

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How to Become a Medical Assistant

To become a medical assistant, you can either gain on-the-job training or attend a medical assistant training program. In many states, there is no legal requirement for a specific educational qualification or training to become a medical assistant. Though a training program or certification is not imperative, it could be beneficial when applying for jobs.

Job Description of a Medical Assistant

medical assistant working

A medical assistant is often the first point of contact for patients. There are many administrative duties that medical assistants conduct ranging from compiling reports, bookkeeping, appointment setting, and managing financial transactions.

Medical assistants may also check the patient’s vital signs and record a patient’s medical history. Other duties may vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice. Most medical assistants have computers to conduct their duties.

Medical Assistant Video Transcript

When patients arrive for a medical appointment, it’s the medical assistant who has prepared the treatment room and made sure equipment is ready for the doctor. With both patient care and administrative responsibilities, they help keep medical establishments running smoothly.

Medical assistants often perform several tasks during an appointment. They may measure vital signs before the doctor arrives, assist with the examination, and enter patient information into medical records. Sometimes they may give patients medications. At the end of the appointment, they dispose of contaminated supplies or sterilize instruments for future use.

In smaller practices, medical assistants may also schedule appointments and prepare samples for lab work, whereas many large practices encourage specialization in either administrative or clinical work. Medical assistants work in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and clinics. Most work full-time, including on holidays, nights, and weekends.

Requirements to enter the field vary; some medical assistants hold a high school diploma, and learn their duties on the job. However, job applicants who have completed a short-term medical assistant certificate program, and passed a certification exam may have better opportunities. Regardless of where medical assistants work, they make life easier for the medical staff and their patients.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants.

National Center for O*NET Development. 31-9092.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.