Fundamentally, a medical assistant job is a kind of mixture of jobs traditionally performed by nurses and those performed by administrative assistants. Medical assistants will take care of the office paperwork for a medical office or hospital, but they will also assist in certain medical tests and procedures. Learning all of these tasks is a part of the certification and education process for those training to be a certified medical assistant.
First and often foremost, the medical assistant job description involves serving as a member of the administrative staff for a clinic or hospital. The medical assistant will be in charge of answering telephones and greeting patients who come to use the medical facilities. As a result, being a medical assistant requires people skills, as you will usually be the first face or voice that people will hear on entering the facility.
A medical assistant is usually in charge of scheduling appointments for the physician or physicians at the clinic or hospital. This involves maintaining an often complicated schedule for the physician or physicians. In addition, the medical assistant is responsible for arranging services outside the clinic for patients. For example, if a patient must go to the hospital or have a test performed that cannot be easily be done on-site, the medical assistant will make these arrangements.
The medical assistant is also responsible for maintaining medical records and filling out insurance forms. It is largely for this reason that a certified medical assistant is needed rather than a standard administrative assistant. The medical assistant will ensure that physicians have ready access to the information that they need by sorting patient information in an easily accessible fashion. The medical assistant will also be responsible for ensuring that insurance companies know what procedures took place, what they cost and the reasons why they were performed.
Medical assistants also help with a number of procedures within the clinic or hospital, taking on some of the traditional roles of the nurse. One common role they take is to work with the patients before and after those patients are looked after by physicians. For example, medical assistants may take medical histories from patients for use by physicians in diagnoses. They may also explain procedures to patients so that the patients know what will be happening when the physician arrives. They may explain patients about how to take medication and any special diets that are required. Finally, they may change dressings on patients’ wounds.
Medical assistants will also often take more of a hand-on role with patients. They may prepare patients for examination and even assist physicians during examinations in whatever way that the physician needs. In addition, medical assistants often have a special role in laboratory tests. They have the role of collecting, labeling and preparing specimens for testing. For basic laboratory tests, they may be done by the medical assistant personally.
Medical assistants may even be involved in specialized tasks, though which are a part of the medical assistant job description may perform varies by state. Medical assistants may authorize refills of prescription drugs (though only when directed by a physician). They may also perform such direct tests as drawing blood, sometimes called phlebotomy, and also with electrocardiograms. Again, which of these tasks medical assistants are allowed to perform is different from state to state, and only certified medical assistants would be able to do it in any case.
The medical assistant job description provides a varied and exciting career, with many different opportunities to work with patients, learn new skills and perform interesting tasks. It is an exciting hybrid of nursing and administrative assistance, and might be just the right job for you.