A medical assistant is an allied health professional who performs clinical and administrative duties to support the work of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Medical assistants are a vital part of the healthcare team and have many responsibilities. They interact directly with patients, act as medical administrative assistants, perform clinical duties related to patient care, and represent the healthcare facilities and physicians they work for.
Medical assistants facilitate communication between the patient care team and other healthcare entities, including pharmacies, referring physicians, hospitals, and outpatient facilities. They act as liaisons between physicians and their patients, and assist with relaying information about things like laboratory test results or prescribed treatment plans.
On a daily basis, medical assistants work closely with physicians and other support staff with the goal of improving the overall health and well-being of their patients. To find out more about becoming a medical assistant, read about Arizona College’s Medical Assisting with Phlebotomy Training.
What Do Medical Assistants Do?
Medical assistants are cross-trained to perform both clinical (back office) and administrative (front office) tasks within a medical setting, making them extremely versatile. There is no one-size-fits-all job description of what a medical assistant does on a daily basis. Depending on the specialty, size, and location of their work environment, medical assistants perform a variety of important administrative and clinical tasks.
Medical Assistant Clinical Skills
- Charting medical histories and patient information
- Performing hands-on patient care, including:
- Taking vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse, temperature, height, and weight
- Performing basic laboratory procedures such as urine dips, mouth swabs, and injections
- Removing sutures and changing dressings on wounds
- Performing finger pricks and blood draws (for those who have phlebotomy training)
- Preparing patients for examination
- Assisting the physician during examinations and procedures
- Performing electrocardiograms (EKG/ECG)
- Collecting and preparing specimens for laboratory analysis
- Instructing patients about medication and special diets, as ordered by the physician
- Authorizing prescription refills, as ordered by the physician
Administrative Medical Assistant Duties
- Checking in patients, including greeting, verifying insurance coverage, and collecting payments
- Answering the telephone
- Using computer applications for clerical tasks, like scheduling appointments, correspondence, and recordkeeping
- Billing, coding, and processing insurance information for patients
- Arranging for hospital admission, special laboratory procedures, or referrals to other physicians
- Organizing and filing patient medical records
- Bookkeeping, payroll, and taxes processing
- Making sure all work is done at a high level of quality
Medical Assistant Personality Fit
Medical assistants serve as liaisons between doctors and patients and will communicate the physician’s orders, results from laboratory tests, and treatment plans directly to the patients. It is important that the medical assistant has the professional “soft” skills required to communicate effectively and efficiently with the physician, the patient, and other team members. These include:
- Good communication skills (both oral and written)
- Ability to remain calm and composed in high-pressure or stressful situations
- Ability to convey empathy and understanding to patients and their families
- Organization of workspace
- Ability to multitask
Medical Assisting Careers
The job outlook for medical assistants is very strong. The position is highly in demand in a variety of exciting healthcare settings. Those who obtain certification through the American Association of Medical Assistants, as a certified medical assistant, or through the American Medical Technologists, as a registered medical assistant, will find there are more options available to them when searching for a medical assistant job. Environments where medical assistants are needed include:
- General practice
- Private practice
- Specialty doctor’s offices
Your Future in Medical Assisting
Do you enjoy interacting with others? Do you want to make a difference in their lives? Consider becoming a medical assistant! Arizona College’s Medical Assisting with Phlebotomy program is offered at our Glendale and Mesa campuses. This 30-week medical assistant program includes a clinical externship, ensuring you get valuable real world experience working as a medical assistant. Fill out a request for information form and one of our admissions representatives will be in touch. Don’t wait any longer, contact Arizona College today!