What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
The Role of a Medical AssistantMedical assistants are schooled to handle both clinical and administrative tasks. They can take vital signs from patients and also manage patient records, scheduling and billing. They know the insurance codes and can describe how to take medications. Their diverse array of skills set them apart in the healthcare industry. Where most healthcare careers seek a specialty area at the outset of a career, medical assistant training emphasizes a broader, all-encompassing approach. However, medical assistants can specialize later on, if desired. There are special professionals certifications you can work towards that will provide you with the skills and knowledge to work exclusively in one area of medicine. For instance, you may choose OB/GYN or pediatrics. Other medical assistants prefer oncology. Once you get your feet wet in the industry, you may find that you wish to devote yourself to a specific patient population and practice that you’re interested in.
Where do Medical Assistants Work?Medical assistants work in all areas of the healthcare industry. They are found in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices, as well as long-term health facilities and nursing homes.
HospitalsIf you work in a hospital, you might have more clinical duties than administrative. Your duties will often mirror those of nurses’ assistants, and your precise role will likely depend on the unit where you work.
ClinicsClinics may resemble hospitals, but they are very different. In a clinic, you may find that the full range of your skills is needed more than in a hospital. This is because the clinic is a smaller organization that is often arranged around one or two doctors. Here your clinical skills may be in high demand, and you may also be needed in an administrative role to help with patients and order office supplies. Clinics can focus on any number of medical specialties. Most provide outpatient, ambulatory care to people who are still able to take care of themselves at home, or who have in-home care. Some of these clinics are focused on dialysis or chemotherapy, where you may be required to administer IVs each day. Others might be surgical clinics that perform relatively minor surgeries that you can assist with. If you want to specialize your career, working in clinics might be one of the best ways to discover a focused passion.
Doctor’s OfficesA small private practice might ask more of your diversity than a larger organization such as a hospital. You may need to take charge of the phones and handle scheduling for part of the day, but then assist the doctor with examinations at other times. Some days might find you bouncing between the clinical and administrative sides all day long. Medical assistants are highly diversified professionals who often form the backbone of a medical facility. They switch between administrative and clinical duties with speed and competency and make everyone’s job easier, including the patients’. If this sounds intriguing to you, it may very well be the best career for you. If you have the following qualities, it could be a great fit:
- Detail oriented
- Outstanding interpersonal skills
- Able to remain calm under pressure
- Able to multi-task
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