Career Overview: Clinical Medical Assistant
A clinical medical assistant is the most well-known type of medical assistant. Clinical MAs work alongside physicians in a clinical setting such as a hospital or physician’s office. Their job duties include basic medical tasks, working with patients and assisting the doctor during treatments.
Clinical medical assisting is one of the fastest growing occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because the US population is aging and living longer, demand for medical centers, doctor’s offices, and hospitals grows constantly. Technological advancements have also produced new treatment techniques, which have opened the door to more medical facilities.
What Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Do?
Clinical MAs works closely with patients and physicians in administering medical services. Unlike physician’s assistants and nurses, they do not examine or help diagnose patient medical conditions. Their jobs are focused on assisting with medical procedures. However, this can cover a wide range of job responsibilities.
Depending on state laws, clinical MAs perform many duties, including:
- Scheduling medical procedures
- Drawing blood
- Taking patient medical histories
- Updating patient medical files
- Taking blood pressure and body temperatures
- Administering electrocardiograms
- Instructing patients on proper usage of medications
- Scheduling hospital admissions
- Phoning in prescriptions to various pharmacies
- Changing the dressing on wounds and even removing sutures
- Collecting lab specimens
- Sterilizing medical instruments
- Preparing patients for x-rays
Where Do Clinical Medical Assistants Work?
These medical assistants typically work in private medical practices, hospitals, medical clinics, and other medical facilities.
In small medical practices, clinical MAs’ job duties are broader than simple clinical assisting. Besides clinical tasks, they may answer phones, greet patients, schedule appointments, and file patient records and other documents.
In larger practices their duties are more focused on clinical tasks, since there may be more medical assistants to handle the variety of job duties. Medical assistants who want to focus more on the clinical side of medical assisting will have better luck getting a job in a hospital or an urban clinic. Larger medical facilities offer the best opportunities to specialize in the clinical side of medical assisting.
Clinical medical assistants receive the same comprehensive training as all medical assistants. Whether a medical assistant practices clinical tasks or other tasks, it is standard for medical assistants to receive clinical training while in school. Most complete formal training programs to earn diplomas, certificates, or degrees.
Clinical coursework might include subjects like:
- Medical Terminology
These are in addition to administrative courses such as:
- Office Procedures
- Medical Ethics
Succeeding as a Clinical Medical Assistant
Good clinical MAs have first and foremost a love for the medical field and performing medical procedures. But there are a few other qualities that fuel success:
- A scientific mind. Medicine is an analytical, evidence-based profession, and approaching it as such leads to better understanding.
- An aptitude for administering medical treatments. Did you become certified in CPR while in high school? Have you always been one of the first to offer Band-Aids to the injured? Can you make an awesome tourniquet? If so, you will probably love being a clinical MA.
- Great people skills. Clinical MAs deal with a lot of people, and many of them are uncomfortable, in pain, and not in a good mood. Being able to empathize and maintain a friendly demeanor is important. Also see: