What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical Assistant job responsibilities vary based on a number of factors. “Medical assistant” is an umbrella term for several kinds of positions that contribute to the daily operations and patient experience within a healthcare facility. What a medical assistant is expected to do depends on:
- the type of healthcare facility (such as a hospital, an urgent care clinic, or a specialist’s practice)
- the certification(s) required
- the individual needs of the healthcare specialist(s)
Types of Medical Assistants
Entry-level medical assistant positions are generally divided into two categories: clinical medical assistant or administrative medical assistant. Learn more about the difference between administrative and clinical medical assistants.
These positions typically require different forms of certification. For a clinical medical assistant, the most accepted forms of certification include:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification offered by American Medical Technologists
For an administrative medical assistant, the most accepted forms of certification include:
- The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant Certification (CMAA) from the National Healthcare Association (NHA).
- The Medical Administrative Assistant Certification (MAAC) from the American Medical Certification Association.
Read more about how differences in certification can impact a medical assistant’s career path.
Job Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
While the responsibilities of a medical assistant can vary, here is an overview of the responsibilities the job typically includes, as outlined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Texas Career Check:
Factors that Influence Medical Assistant Job Responsibilities
An important thing to keep in mind is that every workplace is different, and medical assistants may be expected to perform a combination of duties specific to the needs of their medical office. Here are a few examples of how different needs can change the job description:
Size of the Medical Team
In a smaller private practice, a medical assistant may be expected to schedule patient appointments and provide patient care, such as taking weight and height measurements. Meanwhile, a medical office with a large staff, such as a group practice, may separate the roles of patient care and administrative work.
Workplace Structure and Patient Volume
While a small private practice may assign a medical assistant to take X-rays or perform blood draws, a high-volume practice in a hospital may direct their patient to the radiology or diagnostic center within their building. A large hospital will most likely have a billing department, while in private practice, a medical assistant may oversee the processing of billing and insurance claims.
Type of Practice
The specialty or subspecialty of a medical facility affects the expertise and daily duties of its medical assistant. For example, an administrative medical assistant at an urgent care clinic will frequently encounter work-related injuries and worker’s compensation, while administrative medical assistants at a dermatology or other specialty clinic may be required to send and receive referrals.
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