What does a Medical Assistant do?
A Medical Assistant is a common allied health profession, but not one that is often defined in their role. Whenever you go to your doctor’s office, chances are outside of the physician, everyone else you have been in contact with is a Medical Assistant.
Medical Assistants perform both clinical and administrative duties. These can range from basic billing and coding procedures and checking patients in and out, to administering injections or medications and performing EKG, phlebotomy, and laboratory procedures. Medical Assistants have variety in settings and a variety in patients, as well as changes in daily tasks. It would be difficult to have “just another day at the office” if you were a Medical Assistant.
O*Net Online lists some of the tasks for a Medical Assistant as:
- Record patients' medical history, vital statistics, or information such as test results in medical records.
- Prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations, keeping the rooms neat and clean.
- Interview patients to obtain medical information and measure their vital signs, weight, and height.
- Show patients to examination rooms and prepare them for the physician.
- Prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician.
- Collect blood, tissue, or other laboratory specimens, log the specimens, and prepare them for testing.
- Authorize drug refills and provide prescription information to pharmacies.
- Explain treatment procedures, medications, diets, or physicians' instructions to patients.
- Clean and sterilize instruments and dispose of contaminated supplies.
- Perform routine laboratory tests and sample analyses.
- Perform general office duties, such as answering telephones, taking dictation, or completing insurance forms.
- Greet and log in patients arriving at office or clinic.
- Schedule appointments for patients.
- Help physicians examine and treat patients, handing them instruments or materials or performing such tasks as giving injections or removing sutures.
- Contact medical facilities or departments to schedule patients for tests or admission.
- Inventory and order medical, lab, or office supplies or equipment.
- Operate x-ray, electrocardiogram (EKG), or other equipment to administer routine diagnostic tests.
- Change dressings on wounds.
- Set up medical laboratory equipment.
- Keep financial records or perform other bookkeeping duties, such as handling credit or collections or mailing monthly statements to patients.
Where Medical Assistants work is also a variable. Although they typically work in medical offices, they also work in clinics, and urgent care centers. Normally they do not work in hospitals but as the demand for healthcare employees continues to grow, so do opportunities for Medical Assistants. Even when they work in a physician’s office, the different patients for either a general practitioner or specialist make each office very different.