What is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants can be found in a number of health care organizations. They play an important role in ensuring patients’ experiences are pleasant, handling a variety of both clinical and administrative duties. A medical assistant supports physicians, nurses and other health care professionals with routine procedures in a medical setting.


Administrative Duties for Medical Assistantswhat is a medical assistant

In some organizations, medical assistants handle much of the administrative duties associated with a patient’s visit. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, administrative duties can include a combination of the following:

• Greet patients

• Schedule appointments

• Update and file patient records

• Use computer applications

• Answer telephones

• Handle correspondence, billing and bookkeeping

• Code and fill out insurance documentation

• Arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services


Clinical Duties for Medical Assistants

Medical assistants also play an essential role when it comes to the clinical duties associated with a clinic, hospital or other healthcare organization. The American Association of Medical Assistants states that clinical duties can include a combination of the following:

• Prepare patients for examination

• Take medical histories

• Perform basic laboratory tests

• Assist the physician during exams

• Explain treatment procedures to patients

• Instruct patients about medication and special diets

• Draw blood

• Collect and prepare laboratory specimens

• Prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician

• Authorize prescription refills as directed

• Remove sutures and change dressings

• Take electrocardiograms


The duties of a medical assistant will vary depending on the health organization in which they are employed. Medical assistants who work in a setting that specializes in a type of healthcare services will likely have a separate set of responsibilities which support the unique needs of the organization’s patients. With that in mind, it is important to understand that on the job training couple be part of the onboarding process for a medical assistant.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the medical assistant job outlook is growing faster than average with 29% growth expected from 2012-2022. That is equivalent to a total of 162,900 added medical assistant jobs. The BLS partially credits the growth to changing duties as a result of advancing technology in the field and the need for qualified professionals who can take on these new duties.


Medical Assistant School

Similar to job duties, the position requirements for medical assistant job will vary depending on the organization. As with most career paths, a combination of education and experience can help you prepare for a position as a medical assistant.

Some colleges offer training programs in the form of a medical assistant diploma or medical assistant associate degree. These programs generally include both administrative and clinical training, helping to prepare students for a successful career as a medical assistant.