Although both administrative and clinical medical assistants play large roles in the healthcare industry, the two positions are vastly different from one another in terms of scope and responsibility. While both fit the general job description of a medical assistant, clinical assistants are tasked with more patient oriented responsibilities while administrative medical assistants handle the day-to-day office requirements.
In order to become either a clinical medical assistant or an administrative medical assistant, students must possess either a certificate or degree in medical assisting. While the training and curriculum are entirely different, most graduates of medical assistant schools are able to transition from either clinical to administrative medical assisting and vice versa if one specialty proves more appealing or lucrative than the other.
Administrative Medical Assisting Duties
The job of an administrative medical assistant involves overseeing clerical work related to the administrative side of health care facilities. This may involve organizing patient records, transcribing documents, and filling out preliminary information for doctors and physicians. The specific duties of administrative medical assisting will vary from one institution from the next, with the responsibilities of an assistant in a hospital differing greatly from those of someone who works in a private practice.
The main goal of an administrative medical assistant is to keep the office running smoothly. This includes minimizing errors and ensuring patients are seen in a timely and efficient manner. The specific duties of an administrative medical assistant include the following:
- Updating medical records
- Report filing
- Appointment scheduling
- Answering phones
- Admitting patients
- Handling billing and insurance information
In order to become an administrative medical assistant, at least a high school diploma or GED is required. However, more often than not employers prefer applicants who have received some type of formal training. This may involve completing a 6 week certificate program, or even earning an associates degree in medical assistant. Individuals will need to consider their career goals and options before deciding which type of medical assistant school to enroll in.
Clinical Medical Assisting Duties
Clinical medical assistants work closely with physicians and patients, fulfilling several roles similar to that of a nurse. While they may take on administrative duties at times, a clinical medical assistant is involved primarily in patient care. The specific duties of a clinical medical assistant involve the following:
- Preparing patients to see the doctor
- Administering injections and medication
- Removing sutures
- Recording patient vital signs
- Updating medical records
- Drawing blood
- Preparing x-rays
- Instructing patients
Due to the added responsibilities of clinical medical assistant work, these workers typically achieve higher levels of education and training, usually 1 to 2 years of formal study. To work with patients, clinical medical assistants must have a solid understanding of anatomy, physiology, surgical instruments, lab safety, and more. Some of these subjects are only taught by schools that offer associate degrees, and cannot be learned in a 6 week certificate program.