Medical assistants are an important part of most medical offices. Other than the front office personnel, they are frequently the first point of contact for patients who are visiting the doctor. Medical assistants are not nurses and do not hold a nursing degree, but in some states they may need to successfully pass an accredited medical assisting program. For people who are considering medical assisting as a form of employment, it is important to review the job description to understand all of what it entails.
Back Office, or Clinical Medical Assistants
Most often medical assistants work closely with the doctor and are also in close contact with patients. They typically work in the clinical area of the office and have numerous responsibilities. The job description for people in this position includes obtaining a medical history from the patient and checking patient’s temperature, heart rate, and other vital signs. Depending on their training and the state where they are working, they may also have the skills to draw blood and give injections. Clinical medical assistants are often required to perform certain tests, such as pregnancy tests, and to prepare both the patient and the examination room for in-office procedures.
Administrative Medical Assistants
Unlike the clinical medical assistant, the administrative medical assistant typically does not have one-on-one contact with the patients. It is his or her job to assist with the administrative tasks of the office, such as scheduling tests, making updates to patient records, and coding or submitting medical claims. In addition, the administrative assistant may assist with clerical duties or even billing.
Specialty Medical Assistants
In specialty practices, such as ophthalmology or podiatry, the duties of a medical assistant may vary from that of a general practice medical assistant. In addition to job description for a basic clinical assistant, the specialty medical assistant must also be able to perform tasks specific to that specialty. For example, an ophthalmology medical assistant will need to check eye pressure and perform vision testing. On the other hand, a podiatry medical assistant must know how to develop x-ray images and make casting of the feet.
The job description for medical assisting is as varied as the employment opportunities within the field. Before becoming a medical assistant a person should first take into consideration the type of assisting job he is interested in. In many practices, a medical assistant may act as either a clinical or an administrative assistant. Depending on the size of the practice, the assistant may be required to fulfill the job description of both. Understanding the type of medical assistant career can help a person to better understand what the job entails.