What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants fill many roles in a doctor’s office. These healthcare professionals cross-train to perform administrative and clinical duties. They play a vital role in physicians’ offices, hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Medical assistant (MA) duties may differ based on the size, location and specialty of the facility. In some practices, MAs specialize in either administrative or clinical duties. State laws also dictate responsibilities, such as giving patients injections or medications as directed by a doctor.
Job growth for medical assistants is expected to grow 23% from 2018 to 2028. Overall job growth during that same time period is expected to grow 5%.
- Record patient history and other confidential information, which may involve electronic health records (EHRs)
- Take patient’s vital signs
- Prepare examination room, including sterilizing equipment
- Assist the physician or nurse during an exam
- Prepare blood samples for lab tests
- Answer phones or email and schedule appointments
- Manage insurance paperwork and billing
A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Students typically complete training to become a certified medical assistant (CMA) because employers prefer assistants with these credentials. Medical assistants also learn skills through on-the-job training. Programs typically last a year and are available from community colleges, technical schools and universities. These programs usually lead to a certificate or, for longer programs, an associate degree. All programs include classes in anatomy and medical terminology.
- Have good communication skills
- Are detail-oriented
- Have a good understanding of medical terminology
- Have excellent organizational skills
- Have analytical and technical skills