A medical assistant acts as both an administrator and healthcare professional, performing clinical duties and managing administrative tasks in medical offices, laboratories, hospital clinics, and other settings.
Administrative tasks may include:
- Greeting patients and answering telephones
- Booking and canceling appointments
- Filing medical paperwork and updating patient charts
- Liaising with laboratories and insurance companies
- Arranging hospital visits and admissions
- Ordering office and medical supplies
- Overseeing billing and bookkeeping
Clinical tasks may include:
- Explaining medical procedures to patients
- Prepping patients for examination
- Sterilizing medical equipment
- Assisting physicians
- Taking blood samples and giving injections
- Performing diagnostic and laboratory tests
- Carrying out electrocardiograms (ECGs)
- Removing sutures and changing dressings
Dr. Ghazali and a Medical Assisting student begin work on a lab at Unitek College’s Fremont Campus.
What Qualities Should a Medical Assistant Possess?
To become a medical assistant, you should be:
- Personable and friendly, as medical assistants put patients at ease.
- Attentive, as medical assistants need to acquire important medical information from patients.
- Articulate, as medical assistants need to interact effectively with patients.
- Trustworthy, as medical assistants handle confidential medical information.
- Respectful, as medical assistants work with a variety of patients and healthcare professionals.
- Neat and tidy, as medical assistants must present themselves professionally and keep an office running smoothly.
- Accurate and detail-oriented, as medical assistants often need to multitask.
- Able to take initiative and work independently when necessary.
What Can I Expect from a Medical Assistant Role?
A medical assistant position will give you the opportunity to gain medical experience and meet new people, while also offering a range of opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally. As a medical assistant, your role changes daily and offers many exciting challenges. A typical workday will involve a wide range of administrative and clinical tasks.
Where Can I Work as a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants can find employment at a variety of health care institutions, including:
- Physician’s offices
- Nursing Homes
- Health Industry Providers
Career Growth as a Medical Assistant
Healthcare careers are in demand as the United States’ population of baby boomers continues to age. The demand for medical assistants is relatively high, with employment projected to grow 29% from 2012-2022; this rate is higher than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.*
The career progression of a medical assistant can be varied, as the career is a combination of clinical and administrative work. Some medical assistants pursue an administrative role, becoming an office manager within a healthcare facility. Other medical assistants enjoy the clinical side of a medical assisting role, and seek positions in the healthcare and medical fields, such as nursing or another healthcare occupations.
Medical Assisting Program
If you wish to become a medical assistant, you may want to consider enrolling in a medical assisting program. Medical assisting training teaches students about human anatomy and body functions. Mastering medical terminology is also a vital component of any medical assisting program, as students need to understand the meaning of medical terms used within their practice. Mastering medical terminology prepares students for future training modules on techniques used in laboratory, pharmaceutical, diagnostic and clinical procedures.