The duties of a medical assistant vary greatly based on their work experience, place of employment, and area of expertise or specialization. Medical assistant is actually a very broad term that encompasses many different kinds of assisting, ranging from administrative to clinical. In general, however, the role of a medical assistant is to support the physician or other health are practitioner by keeping the practice running smoothly and on schedule. By attaining a higher level of education, assistants can undertake more clinical responsibilities such as working directly with patients. More and more health care professionals are interested in hiring medical assistants with the flexibility and background to perform both clerical and clinical tasks.
The most basic responsibilities of a medical assistant are primarily administrative. The specific duties will vary based on the demands of the workplace. Medical assistants in local doctor’s offices will undertake more management-like duties by overseeing the running of the entire practice. Assistants employed by hospital departments might be responsible for overseeing one or two specific elements of the practice.
Generally, medical assistants will handle all administrative tasks. These include billing, scheduling, patient admissions, filling out insurance forms, bookkeeping, answering phones, and updating medical records. In smaller offices, medical assistants will also greet patients and arrange for lab services if necessary.
Working as an administrative medical assistant requires only a high school diploma and a modicum of formal training, although more education will be necessary to ascend into management within a hospital setting.
A clinical medical assistant has greater responsibilities than a solely administrative medical assistant. The duties of a clinical medical assistant are determined by State law, which defines the specific tasks the assistant may perform in place of the physician. In order to work as a clinical medical assistant, candidates must complete greater educational training, as well as certification, depending on the requirements of the law. However, the benefits of becoming a clinical medical assistant include greater earning potential and career mobility.
A clinical medical assistant is allowed to assist the doctors examine patients and administer medication. Assistants might record the vital signs of a patient, as well as create a medical record. Clinical assistants in certain States are allowed to perform laboratory tests, take X-Rays, remove sutures, dress wounds, and authorize prescriptions. They are also responsible for relaying information about medication and dietary needs to patients. All tasks must be done under the supervision of a physician, however the clinical medical assistant is often given more leeway due to their more rigorous educational background.
Specialized Medical Assistants
Medical assistants sometimes choose to specialize in a certain area of health care, such as pediatrics or optometry. Such assistants are allowed to undertake tasks directly related to their area of specialization. For example, an opthalmic medical assistant will perform duties associated with eye surgery, such as testing eye muscles, running tests, measuring vision, recording results, and applying dressings. Medication might also be administered by a medical assistant.
Specializing in a certain field is a good choice for medical assistants who want greater levels of responsibility within their place of employment. As with clinical medical assistants, the duties of a specialized medical assistant will be defined by State law. The law will most likely require a certain standard of education, along with certification within the field of specialization.