Snapshot Profile of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are responsible for performing a wide variety of different clerical as well as clinical duties. Most medical assistants help doctors examine and treat patients.
Their duties typically include tasks such as drawing blood, giving injections, and checking the height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure of each patient etc. They commonly work in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors and other medical professionals.
Skill-Set & Competencies Requirements
Firstly, the medical assistant job description entails strong interpersonal skills, because creating a rapport with the patient is key to the healing process. The kindness projected by the medical assistant actually creates the groundwork for the doctor, a critical trust that acts as a catalyst for patient participation in the cure process. As trust develops between the patient and the doctor, the process of reconditioning the body and spirit becomes a lot easier
Secondly, because of the time-critical nature of the medical profession, dealing with emergencies etc., medical assistants need to be very good time-managers. The ability to work as a team and produce results in real-time actually helps save a lot of lives each year.
Medical assistants are also required to have a lot of patience and compassion. A lot of times patients don’t pick instructions rapidly, and that can be a cause of frustration. However, since the patient is already in a predicament, it is important to put up with the patient and re-explain if needed.
Job Duties and Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
Basically, medical assistants undertake administrative and clinical tasks to keep the operations of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. Medical assistant duties vary according to the medical practitioner, and also depending on the location and size of the practice.
In small practices, medical assistants usually undertake multiple tasks, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner.
In large practices, they tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators. Some of the mainstream lines of specializations in medical assistance are as follows.
Administrative medical assistants usually update and take care of medical records and paperwork, and arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services. They also perform customer-oriented tasks such as answering telephones, greeting patients, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, billing and bookkeeping etc.
Clinical medical assistants job include tasks such as taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing them for examinations, and assisting doctors during examinations. They also perform “forensic” tasks such as collecting and preparing laboratory specimens, disposing off of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments.
Upon directions from the physician, they may instruct patients about medications and special diets, authorize drug refills, telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy etc. They may even arrange examining room instruments and equipment, purchase and maintain supplies and equipment, and keep waiting and examining rooms neat and clean.
Ophthalmic, Optometric, and Podiatric
These are specialized assistants who have additional duties, as follows:
1. Ophthalmic Medical Assistants
2. Optometric Medical Assistants
3. Podiatric Medical Assistants
Ophthalmic Medical Assistants
Ophthalmic medical assistants help ophthalmologists provide eye care, by conducting diagnostic tests, measuring and record vision, and testing eye muscle function. Additionally, they apply eye dressings and also show patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. They are also authorized to administer medications under the directions of the doctor.
Optometric Medical Assistants
Optometric assistants also help provide eye care, working with optometrists. They provide chair-side assistance, instruct patients about contact lens use and care, conduct preliminary tests on patients, and serve any function as required.
Podiatric Medical Assistants
Podiatric medical assistants make castings of feet, expose and develop x rays, and assist podiatrists in surgery etc.
Medical Assistant Salary and Wages
A multiple range of factors affect the salary earnings of medical assistants. The factors typically include type and level of abilities and previous job experience .The median annual earnings for medical assistants was recorded to be $23,940 for 2002. Earnings typically increase with experience and/or with training and certification.
Professional Associations for Medical Assistants
- American Association of Medical Assistants
- American Medical Technologists
- American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants
- Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology
Career Growth and Opportunities for Medical Assistants
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 62% medical assistants work in physician offices, and employment in this field is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking it among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 decade.