Medical Assistant

How to Become a Medical Assistant
Medical Assistant Job Duties
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Medical Assistant
Medical Assistant Salaries
Influential Professionals in Medical Assistant Field
Top Organizations for Medical Assistants
Top Cities for Medical Assistant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Medical Assistant

Medical assistants work with a variety of health practitioners including chiropractors, podiatrists, and physicians. Their main responsibilities are either clinical or administrative and these duties ensure that the medical practice always runs smoothly. The nature of a typical medical assistant's job is largely dependent on the nature of the medical practice, the location, and the size of the practice. In smaller outfits medical assistants usually handle both clinical and administrative tasks but in larger facilities they are usually under the supervision of departmental heads.

Persons wishing to pursue careers as medical assistants can acquire the academic background required in vocational training high schools, junior colleges, and community colleges. A one-year course results in the awarding of a diploma or certificate and a 2-year program results in an associate degree. The course includes studies in medical terminology, physiology, and anatomy. Other important courses include typing, transcription, insurance handling, record keeping, and accounting. In addition students gain knowledge in first aid, clinical procedures, medicine administration, and laboratory techniques. Medical assistants are also taught medical law, ethics, patient relations, and office practices. Accredited programs usually require that the medical assistants have a gained experience through internship at a relevant facility. Medical assistants are required to have a high school education that has encompassed health, mathematics, biology, office skills, and computer skills. Most employers require that the medical assistants they hire have certification or relevant experience. There are a few organizations that offer certification and it is possible to be certified in a particular specialty e.g. optometry or podiatry. The desired medical assistant is a well-groomed person with the ability to communicate effectively with patients. Communication skills are vital considering that one has to explain the physician's instructions to the patients. Medical assistants can advance their careers by becoming medical assistant teachers, training further to join other health-based professions including nursing.

What does a Medical Assistant do?

Medical assistants who tackle administrative duties normally carry out tasks that include organizing hospital admissions, organizing for laboratory services, filling of insurance forms, and updating and filing of patient's files. Other tasks that they perform while not necessarily being medically related include answering phones, arranging for appointments, serving as receptionist to receive patients and bookkeeping. For clinical duties, the range of tasks is regulated by State law. Some common duties include gathering patients' medical histories, taking note of vital signs, preparing patients for the medical examination, and assisting the physicians as they perform examinations. More clinical duties include sterilization of medical instruments, collection and preparation of medical laboratory samples, basic laboratory testing of these samples, and proper disposal of used medical supplies. More experienced medical assistants are capable of preparing and administering medications as recommended by physicians, advising patients about how to use their medications, advising on special diets, drawing of blood samples fro patients, preparing patients for x-ray and electrocardiograms, changing of wound dressings and removing of sutures. There are specialized duties for medical assistants who work under various specialists. Podiatric medical assistants assist in making feet castings, exposing and developing of x-rays and also assist in the course of surgery. Ophthalmic assistants are capable of performing diagnostic tests, testing eye muscles through measuring and recording tests, instructing on how to apply and remove contact lenses, and application of eye dressings. Optometric medical assistants perform preliminary tests on patients, offer assistance to the optometrists, and advise patients on the application and removal of eye contact lenses etc.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Medical Assistant?

Persons who intend to pursue careers as medical assistants need to have personal characteristics of compassion that will enable them to deal directly with patients many of whom suffer pain and discomfort. Communication skills are vital to the job as most of the times one is required to interpret the physician's instructions to patients in clear and easy to understand terms. The typical medical assistant should be well organized particularly when handling patients' files and records, insurance paperwork, and prescriptions. These records are especially vital to the practice and as such they should be well handled and organized. A medical assistant should be thoroughly neat and kempt always. He or she must learn the need to keep patients' medical records confidential. One must be always alert on the job.

What do Medical Assistants make?

Medical assistants earn different salaries pegged on their level of experience, the location of the practice, and the level of skills that they possess relative to the job. In May 2006 medical assistants earned an annual median average of $26,290. Medical assistants in the highest 10 percentile earned an annual average of $36,840 while those in the lowest 10 percentile earned $18,860. As in all other industries, there are different salary averages depending on the area of specialization of the medical assistants. Those working in general and medical hospitals earned an average of $27,340 in May 2006. Medical assistants in optometrist practices made $22,850, those in chiropractor practices earned $22,940. Medical assistants in outpatient care made $26,840 and those in physicians' offices earned $26,620.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Dr. Stephen S. Carryl is the President of Overseas Medical Assistance Team (OMAT). OMAT was formed as a non-profit organization that would help to provide healthcare assistance to developed countries. Among other roles the organization plays, they are involved in the provision of medical assistance. This is done by volunteering nurses, physicians, and other professionals in the healthcare industry.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The Children's Medical Group is a pediatric service organization that is involved in offering comprehensive medical assistance to children. The firm is based in the New York area. It also has branches in the Ulster, Dutchess, and Orange counties.

What are the top cities for Medical Assistant jobs?

There are numerous job opportunities available to medical assistants. There is a need to hire more of these people into the health care facilities that are found around the country. There is also a need to continuously replace professionals who are retiring from the practice. Job opportunities will be more open to those who have the necessary qualifications and job experience. The top city destinations for medical assistants are currently in New York and Troy.

Other Careers of Interest

Home Healthcare Nurse
Home healthcare nurses provide a vital patient to medical care giver link by visiting patients in their homes. This sometimes done on a one-time...

Laboratory Technician
On a broad scale, a Laboratory Technician performs a variety of tasks delegated by a superior medical professional. There are many different areas...

Licensed Practical Nurse / LPN / Licensed Vocational Nurse
LPN's perform various medical procedures that range from simple to complex. These procedure include: gathering patient health information, taking...

Medical Coder
Medical coders are also referred to as medical record coders, coders/abstractors, health information coders or coding specialists. Medical coders...

Medical Records Technician
A medical records technician is sometimes known as a medical transcriptionist because their job is to transcribe various medical records such as...

Medical Transcriptionist
Keying medical information from a Dictaphone or similar device and these days increasingly via the internet, onto computer, is the job of the medical...

MRI Technician
MRI technicians, use a magnetic resonance imaging (an MRI machine) to get an internal look at both hard and soft tissues within a human body. The...

Neonatal Nurse
A neonatal nurse may perform a variety of job functions. Many of the infants in the neonatal intensive care unit are extremely vulnerable and need...

Nurse / Registered Nurse
Nurses performs a variety of functions that are essential for patient recovery. Regardless of their specialty or workplace setting, he or she treats...

Nurse Practitioner
An NP is trained in diagnosis and management of common and complex medical conditions. The core philosophy is individualized care and focus on patients'...

Nursing Aide
Nurse aides assist and care for others. Workloads can be physically demanding. Aides are on their feet all day, moving patients in and out of bed...

Nursing Assistant
Nursing assistants are mainly responsible for providing medical support to doctors and nurse in hospitals and other health care facilities. They...

Operating Room Technician
Hospitals employ about 70 percent of the estimated 86,000 operating room technicians working in the United States. Operating room technicians would...

Physician Assistant
A physician assistant is an advanced practice clinician, and obtains medical histories, orders treatments, diagnoses patients, prescribes medication...

Social Worker
A social worker assists people at all stages of their life with things such as medical care, food, shelter, clothing, and relationships. Other...

Surgical Technician
Surgical technicians assist in various surgical operations, always under the supervision of professional surgeons, registered nurses or other more...

Trauma Nurse
Trauma nurses are employed by acute-care and specialty hospitals where they attend to emergency situations. They might be based in a hospital, on...

Ultrasound Technician
An ultrasound technician works predominantly in hospitals and physician offices and clinics. Ultrasound is most commonly associated with pregnancy...

X-Ray Technician
X-ray technicians use a variety of equipment to produce images known commonly as x-rays or radiographs so that doctors can diagnose or better understand...

Medical Assistant Jobs

Browse by Location | Browse by Career



Career & College Resources


Creative Commons License