What is a Medical Assistant?

The versatile medical assistant can be described as a cross between an office manager and a nurse. In a typical day, the average MA performs a wide range of administrative and clinical duties, with expectations varying greatly depending on where one works, the size of the facility, and even state laws. Medical assistants are often seen as a liaison between the front desk and the medical staff and require the capacity and temperament to interact with a variety of people. The majority of MA’s work in medical offices and outpatient clinics and typically work standard office hours with some expanded evening and Saturday hours, depending on the individual medical facility.

In a smaller practice, you may even greet patients at the door, answer phones and schedule appointments. Regardless of what your specific duties will be, you’ll need to be trained in basic computer skills and have some knowledge of insurance and billing procedures. Once in the exam room, you’ll perform mostly non-invasive tasks such as taking vitals and measurements, but you may be responsible for drawing blood and other basic lab tests like setting up and monitoring an EKG. This is why it is vital to find a program that requires a clinical externship as part of its curriculum to get you the hands-on experience you will need.

If you want a job where no 2 days are alike, enjoy communicating with a variety of professionals and patients, and can move from task to task calmly and professionally, this field is great fit. Medical assisting is also an ideal option for someone interested in entering the medical field, but not sure which avenue to pursue. Working as a medical assistant can be an ideal first step for candidates interested in nursing, but unsure if it’s the right fit for them. Those who thrive on patient contact and enjoy their clinical duties may then choose to expand their career and pursue a nursing degree. If you find you prefer your administrative duties, but also enjoy the medical office environment, then your path might include a certification in Medical Coding or a degree in Health Information Technology.

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