Medical Assistants Career

The job of a medical assistant is to perform clinical and administrative tasks to keep the offices of podiatrists, chiropractors, physicians, and other health professionals run smoothly. A physician assistant must not be confused with a medical assistant. The work of physician assistant is to diagnose, examine, and treat patients under the close supervision of a physician.

Job Prospect
The responsibilities of medical assistants differ from office to office, depending upon the location and size of the office. In small practices, a medical assistant perform various tasks. They deal with clinical and administrative duties and report to the physician, office manger, or other health practitioners. Medical assistants who work in large practices, usually, specialize in a specific area under the close supervision of department administrators.

A medical assistant who carry out administrative tasks have various duties. They file and update patients' records, arrange laboratory services, fill out insurance forms, and conduct hospital admission. They also cope with the tasks less specific to medical settings such as greeting patients, answering telephones, handling correspondence, bookkeeping, scheduling appointments, and coping with billing.

A medical assistant who serves in a clinic may have to carry out various duties. These duties may vary according to what is permitted by state law. Some common tasks comprise of recording vital signs, taking medical histories, preparing patients for examination, describing treatment procedures to patients, and facilitating physicians during examinations. A medical assistant gathers and prepares laboratory specimens and execute basic laboratory tests on the premises, sterilize medical instruments, and dispose of contaminated supplies.

Medical assistants instruct patients about special duties and medications, authorize drug refills as directed, administer and prepare medications as guided by a physician, phone prescriptions to a pharmacy, prepare patients for X rays, draw blood, remove sutures, change dressings, and take electrocardiograms. A medical assistant may oversee examining room instruments, buy and maintain equipment and supplies, examine equipment, keep examining and waiting room clean and neat.

Ophthalmic medical assistants, podiatric medical assistants and optometric assistants are some of the examples of specialized assistants who carry out additional duties. The work of ophthalmic medical assistants is to assist ophthalmologists who provide eye care. Their work is to conduct diagnostic tests, record and measure vision, and test eye muscle function. They show patients how to remove, insert, and care for contact lenses. These workers apply eye dressings under the close supervision of a physician.

An ophthalmic medical assistant administers eye medications. They maintain surgical and optical instruments and may help the ophthalmologist in surgery. The work of optometric assistants is to provide eye care. They instruct patients about contact lens, conduct preliminary tests on patients, and provide assistant to an optometrist. A podiatric medical assistant make casting of feet, develop and expose X rays, and help podiatrists in surgery.

Work Environment
Medical assistants work in clean and spacious environments. They constantly discuss with other people and have to deal with various responsibilities at a time. Many full-time medical assistants work forty hours a week. Nevertheless, most medical assistants work part-time, weekends, and evenings.

Training and Educational Qualification
Some of the medical assistants are given on-the-job training; however, many of them complete one-year or two-year programs. Junior colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, and technical high schools offer postsecondary medical assisting programs. The one year program results in a diploma or certificate and a two-year program leads to an associate degree. These courses incorporate various subjects such as physiology, anatomy, transcription, typing, medical terminology, accounting, recordkeeping, insurance processing, and accounting.


Experienced workers who are certified preferred by many employers. Candidates who have certificate reveal that a medical assistant meets established standards of competence. There are a number of associations, which award certification credentials to medical assistants. Candidates may certify in specialty such as optometry, podiatry, and ophthalmology.

A medical assistant may get into other professions through additional training or experience. For instance, some of these professionals may move to teach medical assisting whereas others continue education to become health care workers or nurses. An administrative medical assistant may be promoted to office manager or may get into various administrative support occupations.

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