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Considering Work as a Medical Assistant?

Nature of Work  

Medical assistants. They are in charge of administrative and clinical responsibilities to maintain the offices of physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and other health practitioners running smoothly. The obligations of medical assistants differ from office to office, depending on the locality and size of the practice and the practitioner's specialty. Medical assistants – in small practices – generally tackle various kinds of tasks managing both administrative and clinical obligations and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Medical Assistants in large practices aim to concentrate in a particular area, under the guidance of department administrators. A medical assistant should not be mistaken with a physician assistant – who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the direct guidance of a physician.

Administrative Medical Assistants. They update and file patients' medical records, fill out insurance forms, and arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services. They also do duties less distinct to medical scenes, such as attending to telephone calls, attending to patients, handling correspondence, setting up appointments, and taking care of billing and bookkeeping.

Clinical medical assistants. They have different obligations, this time, depending on State law. Some ordinary functions include taking medical histories and registering vital signs, going into details with the patients about the treatment procedures, getting patients ready for examinations, and helping physicians during examinations. Medical assistants gather and prepare laboratory specimens and at times carry out basic laboratory tests, get rid of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. As instructed by a physician, they might advise patients regarding medications and special diets, prepare and administer medications, approve drug refills, telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy, extract blood, get patients ready for x rays, take electrocardiograms, remove sutures, and change dressings. Medical assistants also may prepare examining room instruments and equipment, procure and maintain supplies and equipment, and maintain waiting and examining rooms neat and clean.

Ophthalmic medical assistants, optometric assistants, and podiatric medical assistants. Theyare examples of specialized assistants who have other obligations. Ophthalmic medical assistants help ophthalmologists give eye care. They oversee diagnostic tests, measure and record vision, and test eye muscle function. They put on eye dressings and also demonstrate to patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. Under the guidance of the physician, ophthalmic medical assistants may administer eye medications. They also take care of optical and surgical instruments and may help the ophthalmologist in surgery. Optometric assistants also help give eye care, working with optometrists. They offer chair-side assistance, advise patients regarding contact lens use and care, conduct initial tests on patients, and in addition give assistance while working directly with an optometrist. Podiatric medical assistants execute castings of feet, expose and develop x rays, and help podiatrists in surgery.

Work Environment

A well-lighted and clean environment is the best condition for Medical assistants to work in. They always communicate with other people and may have to perform a number of tasks at once. Majority of full-time medical assistants work a regular 40-hour week. On the other hand, they may work part time, grave yard shifts, or weekends.

Training and Other Qualifications

Education and training. Medical assisting courses are being offered in vocational-technical high schools, postsecondary vocational schools, and community and junior colleges. Postsecondary courses generally last either 1 year and bring about a certificate or diploma, or 2 years and bring about an associate degree. Courses include anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, along with keyboarding, recordkeeping, accounting, and insurance processing. Students grasp laboratory techniques, transcription, clinical and diagnostic procedures, administration of medications, pharmaceutical principles, and first aid. They learn office practices, medical law, patient relations, and ethics. Two accrediting bodies accredit medical assisting programs. An internship is often covered by accredited programs, which offers practical experience in physicians’ offices or other healthcare facilities.There are two accrediting bodies that accredit medical assisting programs. Accredited programs often include an internship that provides practical experience in physicians' offices or other healthcare facilities.

A formal training is not demanded in medical assisting, although usually favored. A lot of medical assistants are trained on the job, and frequently only need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Suggested high school courses include mathematics, biology, health, bookkeeping, keyboarding, computers, and office skills. It is also helpful to have volunteer experience in the healthcare field. On the job-trained medical assistants generally spend their firs few months attending training sessions and working side by side with more knowledgeable workers.

Medical assistants performing more advanced procedures - after passing a test or taking a course - are allowed in some States. For example, giving injections or taking x rays.

Other qualifications . Medical assistants take care of the public; and so, they are required to be neat and well groomed and have a courteous, pleasant manner and they should be capable to bring patients at ease and go into details on the physicians' instructions.

They must honor the confidential nature of medical information. Clinical obligations need a reasonable standard of manual dexterity and visual acuity.

Certification and advancement . Even though not insisted upon, certification signifies that a medical assistant meets certain levels of knowledge. It may also help to identify a seasoned or formally trained assistant from an entry-level assistant, which may result to a higher wage or more employment opportunities. There are different associations that grant certification credentials to medical assistants. Associations like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and Association of Medical Technologists (AMT). The certification process differs by association.

It is also likely to become certified in a specialty, like podiatry, optometry, or ophthalmology.

Through experience or further training, medical assistants may also advance to other occupations. For instance, some may pursue teaching medical assisting, and others may seek further education to achieve being nurses or other healthcare workers. An administrative medical assistant may be promoted to office managers, or qualify for an array of administrative support occupations.

Job Outlook

Employment change. From 2008 to 2018, employment of medical assistants is assumed to increase by 34 percent. This is much quicker than the average for all occupations. Due to technological advances in medicine and the increasing and aging population, the healthcare industry augments. This means that there will be a growing requirement for all healthcare workers.

The increasing ubiquity of particular conditions, likeobesity and diabetes, also will augment requirement for healthcare services and medical assistants. Expanding utilization of medical assistants to permit doctors to treat more patients will further excite job growth.

Pushing to advance job increase is the growing number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that require a high amount of support personnel, specifically medical assistants who can manage both administrative and clinical obligations. Furthermore, medical assistants work mainly in primary care, a continually expanding sector of the healthcare industry.

Job prospects . Excellent job prospects are waiting for jobseekers wishing to work as a medical assistant. Medical assistants are assumed to account for an enormous number of new jobs, and a lot of other opportunities will come from the requirement to replenish workers leaving the occupation. Medical assistants with formal training or experience—significanly those with certification—must have the best job opportunities, because employers usually favor to employ these workers.


Medical assistants held about 483,600 jobs in 2008. Nearly 62 percent have jobs in offices of physicians; 13 percent are employed in public and private hospitals, including inpatient and outpatient facilities; and 11 percent are employed in offices of other health practitioners, like chiropractors and optometrists. Majority of the remainder worked in other healthcare industries, like outpatient care centers and nursing and residential care facilities.


The take-home of medical assistants differs resting on their experience, skill level, and location. In May 2008, average annual wages of wage-and-salary medical assistants were $28,300. The middle 50 percent received between $23,700 and $33,050. The lowest 10 percent gained less than $20,600, and the highest 10 percent got more than $39,570. Average yearly salaries in the industries hiring the largest numbers of medical assistants in May 2008 were:

General medical and surgical hospitals


Colleges, universities, and professional schools


Offices of physicians


Outpatient care centers


Offices of other health practitioners


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