A career in medical assisting is both rewarding and challenging. All careers in health care, but especially those in medical assisting, are growing much faster than the average growth in jobs. This is also a lucrative career that doesn’t require extensive training. With just an associate’s degree, you can be prepared to earn more than $45,000 per year. Of course, before you take the plunge and make the commitment to earn your degree, you need to know what this career is all about. Here you’ll find the top medical assistant duties that you will be doing every day on the job.
Medical Assistant Duties That Require Anatomy and Physiology Knowledge
In training to become a medical assistant, there are a number of courses you’ll need to take, ranging from academic science classes to hands-on clinical work. To get basic medical knowledge, your degree program will include courses in anatomy and physiology. Daily medical assistant duties require that you have this background knowledge:
Assist the physician with exams, treatments, diagnostic tests, and procedures.
Set up basic diagnostic tests, such as heart monitors, electrocardiograms, urinalysis, and strep tests.
Administer injections or medications.
Give patients instructions for medications and other directions from the physician.
Communicate between patients and physicians.
Clinical Lab Procedure Medical Assistant Duties
Medical assistant duties cover a lot of different areas of basic medical practice, and that includes clinical lab procedures. Most doctors’ offices include a lab, either on site or in an off-site location. The purpose of a lab is to test samples from patients to help make diagnoses. Medical assistants may have duties in the lab, which include taking samples from patients, like urine or blood samples. Other lab duties may be preparing the samples for testing, running the tests, maintaining lab records, communicating results with nurses and physicians, and notifying patients of test results or reminding them of upcoming tests that need to be done.
Medical Assistant Duties in CPR and Medical Emergencies
The only type of medical assistant duties that you can expect won’t occur on a regular basis are emergency care duties. In most medical settings, emergencies are not common, but they can happen. Medical assistants, like other professionals in a doctor’s office or clinic, need to be prepared to handle these emergencies. You can expect to take coursework as you train to become a medical assistant that will teach you basic emergency medical care like first aid and CPR. Emergency duties may include helping a patient who has been hurt, who has stopped breathing, or who has lost consciousness. Part of your duties in one of these types of situations is also to alert a nurse or physician immediately.
Exam Room Procedure Medical Assistant Duties
The real hands-on work that medical assistants do involves working directly with physicians and patients. These medical assistant duties involve working in the exam room and assisting the physician with anything he or she needs. This may include helping with sutures, handing the physicians the necessary tools during a procedure. Some procedures can be done by the medical assistant without the physician in the room. These vary by what each state allows, but they may include giving shots, drawing blood, administering diagnostic tests, or removing stitches. Medical assistants are also generally responsible for preparing the patient for the physician’s examination, including taking and recording vital signs, asking the patient preliminary questions, and escorting the patient to the exam room.
Pharmacology Medical Assistant Duties
Pharmacology is a big part of medical care and refers to anything related to medications. Only physicians and certain other specialists may write prescriptions, but often the medical assistant duties in a doctor’s office include medications. For instance, as a medical assistant you may need to administer medications to patients, explain to them how to take or use medications or medical devices, and record the medications that a patient is already taking.
Medical Assistant Duties Involving Phlebotomy
Medical assistant training includes learning how to draw blood, an important skill that is used often in physicians’ offices and clinical labs. This is called phlebotomy and it is a regular part of most medical assistant duties. In this role you may need to draw blood from patients for a number of tests. This can be done in the doctor’s office or in a clinical lab. In some clinics and offices, drawing blood is done by a dedicated phlebotomist. In smaller offices, though, it is likely to be the duty of the medical assistant.
Administrative Medical Assistant Duties and Specialties
In addition to the clinical and procedural medical assistant duties, you can expect to perform some administrative tasks as well. Some medical assistants only do clinical or administrative work, but in most offices, they perform both types of duties. Administrative duties include:
Answering the phones and talking to patients.
Scheduling patient appointments.
Updating and filing patient forms and medical records.
Using software for appointments and medical records.
Arranging lab services, hospital admissions, and referrals.
Depending on specialty, other medical assistant duties may include more advanced work. Some medical assistants continue their education beyond the basic training to specialize in pediatrics, surgery, and other fields. These medical assistants may have more duties including things like placing intravenous lines, creating educational materials for patients, manage billing or payroll, helping patients with power of attorney, or playing a more hands-on role in procedures. Some of these advanced duties may come from having a more advanced education, but you also may learn to do them through on-the-job training.
Now that you have a better understanding of the daily and regular medical assistant duties, you can make an informed decision about your future career. Were you born to be a medical assistant? If so, let us show you what kinds of medical assistant programs are available to help you start your journey toward becoming a dedicated medical professional, making a difference in the lives of patients.