The medical assistant job description is varied and broad. Medical assistants perform many job duties to keep the offices of doctors, medical centers, and clinics running smoothly. Depending on their employer’s needs, they may perform clerical, administrative, or clinical job duties, or all three. The job description of a medical assistant also varies by office type, location, and the size of the practice.
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistant job duties can fall under three basic categories of medical assistant:
- Clinical Medical Assistant Duties
- Administrative Medical Assistant Duties
- Clerical Medical Assistant Duties
In small practices, the job description of a medical assistant usually involves a mixture of administrative medical assisting and clinical medical assisting tasks. In these practices there are generally fewer medical assistants working, so their job duties are more broad. In large practices, where there may be more medical assistants on the job, they tend to specialize in a particular area. For example, there may be medical assistants performing only clinical duties, other medical assistants doing administrative duties, and yet others with only clerical responsibilities.
This basic medical assistant job description will outline what medical assistants do in terms of these clinical, administrative and clerical medical assistant job duties.
Clinical Medical Assistant Job Description
A clinical medical assistant job description is what most people imagine when they think of what a medical assistant does. Clinical medical assistant job duties depend upon the laws of their specific states, but their role is more medical-related than those of clerical and administrative medical assistants.
The responsibilities of a clinical medical assistant may include:
- Preparing Patients for Examinations
- Taking Medical Histories
- Assisting the Physician During Examinations
- Explaining Medical Procedures to Patients
- Calling in Prescriptions to Pharmacies
- Collect Laboratory Specimens
- Sterilize Medical Instruments
In some cases a clinical medical assistant job description may include drawing blood (phlebotomy), removing sutures, and taking electrocardiograms. However, these medical assistant job duties are not typical for all states, and are restricted in some.
Administrative Medical Assistant Job Description
Administrative medical assistant job duties are focused more on administrative tasks that are medical. Their role is to support the clinical side of a medical office, without being directly involved in medical procedures.
Administrative medical assistant job duties may include:
- Submitting Medical Claim Forms
- Maintaining Patient Medical Records
- Updating Patient Files
- Scheduling Medical Tests
- Arranging for Hospital Admissions
- Patient Billing and Bookkeeping
Administrative medical assistants often assume all of the general clerical duties within the office, unless the office also employs a clerical medical assistant.
Clerical Medical Assistant Job Description
Clerical medical assistants perform job duties that are central to the smooth running of the medical office, but are not related to medical practices. These medical assistants perform job duties in support of the operations of the clinical staff, and the business end of the medical office.
The clerical medical assistant job description can include:
- Answering Phones
- Scheduling Appointments
- Greeting Patients
- Sorting Mail
- Typing Doctor’s Letters and Memos
- Other Duties
Their tasks are similar to the job duties of clerical personnel in many other office settings.
Specialized Medical Assistants
Many medical assistants specialize in a particular area of medicine. These medical assistants may have the typical medical assistant job description, but they also have extra duties that reflect their areas of expertise.
For example, optometric medical assistants work closely with optometrists in testing patients’ eyes, instructing patients on the proper use of contact lenses, and providing basic assistance during eye exams. Podiatric medical assistants may make castings of feet and assist the podiatrist during surgery. Medical lab assistants perform lab-related job duties involving testing and documenting specimens.
Medical Assistant Job Opportunities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job opportunities for medical assistants will be plentiful for many years to come. In 2010, there were 527,600 employed medical assistants. About 62 percent worked in physician’s offices. Only 12 percent worked in hospitals.
Medical assistants may also, with additional medical assistant training, take on other types of job description and advance to other health-related occupations.