Day in the Life: Professional Medical Assistant

Career Choices: Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is a health care professional who supports other health professionals in a clinical environment. Medical assistants usually interact each day with many medical professionals such as doctors, patients and nurses, distinct from assistants in corporate offices.

Medical assistants frequently perform a variety of clinical and administrative duties, to make sure the offices of physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists and other health specialists run efficiently. Medical assistants’ specific tasks may be influenced by the specialization, size or location of the office.

Administrative duties usually performed by medical assistants include: updating patients’ medical records, completing insurance forms, and arranging for laboratory services and hospital admissions. In addition, they perform tasks which are not specific to medical situations, for instance, appointment scheduling, responding telephones, correspondence handling, bookkeeping and billing.

The clinical aspects of medical assistants’ work include including taking down medical histories of patients, recording vital signs, preparing patients for examinations, providing assistance to physicians throughout examinations, and explaining treatment procedures to patients.

Medical assistants also collect and prepare laboratory specimens, sterilize medical apparatuses and dispose of contaminated supplies. They might share information with patients as well as administer medications as directed by a physician. Additionally, they may perform phlebotomies, take electrocardiograms, prepare patients for x-rays and remove sutures.

A regular 40-hour week is the normal working period for a full-time medical assistant, although many work part time or weekends. With experience and additional training, medical assistants may move on to other professions, such as teaching medical assistants, nurses or other health care professionals and office managers.

Due to technological advances in medicine and the rapid growth and aging of the population, the health care industry will expand and there will be an increased need for all kinds of health care workers. This will require more support staff, including medical assistants who can deal with both clinical and administrative duties for the increasing number of health care facilities. New medical assistants are joining a growing and socially valuable profession.

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