Medical assistants (MAs) play a valuable role in the day-to-day operations of hospitals, physician’s offices, and healthcare facilities throughout the United States. Medical assistants possess a diverse set of specialized skills, allowing them to treat patients with various ailments, injuries, and chronic conditions. In addition, they must respond to medical emergencies, assist patients and their families with sensitive matters (such as treatment options and medication recommendations), and manage operational logistics at their place of employment.

Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians and other health practitioners running smoothly. The duties of medical assistants vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner’s specialty.

Administrative duties include: answering telephones, greeting patients, updating and filing patients’ medical records, filling out insurance forms, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, arranging for hospital admission and laboratory services, and handling billing and bookkeeping.

Clinical duties vary according to state law and include: taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for examination, and assisting the physician during the examination.

A general medical assistant job description will include:

  • Report to clinical coordinator or practice administrator
  • Perform nursing procedures under supervision of physician or physician assistant
  • Assist physician and physician assistant in exam rooms
  • Escort patients to exam rooms, interviews patients, measure vital signs, including weight, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and document all information in patient’s chart
  • Give instructions to patients as instructed by physician or physician assistant
  • Ensure all related reports, labs and information is filed is available in patients’ medical records prior to their appointment
  • Keep exam rooms stocked with adequate medical supplies, maintain instruments, prepare sterilization as required
  • Take telephone messages and provide feedback and answers to patient/physician/pharmacy calls
  • Triage and process messages from patients and front office staff to physicians and physician assistants
  • Maintain all logs and required checks (i.e. refrigerator temperatures, emergency medications, expired medications, oxygen, cold sterilization fluid change, etc.)
  • All other duties as assigned by clinical coordinator or practice administrator

No matter which side you pick (administrative or clinical) one thing is for sure, the future looks bright for medical assistants!  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for medical assisting is expected to grow at a rate of 31% between 2010 and 2020!  That’s more than double the rate for all occupations.