Medical Assistant Job Description
Medical assistants are responsible for completing clinical and administrative tasks in healthcare settings like doctors’ offices and hospitals.
One of the primary responsibilities for medical assistants is recording patient information. This includes asking patients about their medical histories, as well as taking their vital signs. Medical assistants must keep this information confidential, and discuss it only with others who are treating the patient.
They may also perform basic healthcare tasks, such as removing stitches, changing dressings, and preparing patients for x-rays.
When working in hospitals or very large practices, it’s often necessary for medical assistants to specialize in either clinical or administrative work.
Clinical medical assistants are restricted in some states more than others, but they normally perform duties that include administering basic tests, providing instructions for taking prescribed medication, sterilizing medical instruments, and drawing blood.
Administrative medical assistants normally work in the front desk area of a physicians’ office. They accept insurance paperwork, schedule tests, arrange for admission into a hospital. They may also perform clerical duties, including answering phones, scheduling appointments, and greeting patients.
Work Environment and Schedule
Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices and other types of healthcare facilities.
Medical assistants who work in doctors’ offices normally enjoy regular working hours. Most offices are only open between Monday and Friday, and normally close in the early evening.
Those who work in hospitals or other facilities that are always open may be required to work on nights, weekends, and holidays to cover shifts.
How to Become a Medical Assistant
Beyond a high school diploma, there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant. Most people in this occupation are trained on the job.
With that said, this is often a competitive occupation to break into, and you can increase your chances of employment by taking classes at a community college or technical school. These programs usually take about a year to complete, and sometimes result in a certification.
Before you enroll in a program, make sure that it’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. If your school is not accredited, you may not be able to earn a certification.
Many employers prefer candidates with a certification, so getting one is a smart choice. There are four certifications for medical assistants that are worth obtaining:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
There are currently 527,600 medical assistants in the United States, with 24,380 new medical assistant job openings created each year.
Medical Assistant jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Medical Assistant Salaries
Medical Assistant salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most medical assistants make between $24,700 – $35,100 per year, or $11.86 – $16.87 per hour.