During a routine visit to your doctor, medical assistants are likely the first and last faces you’ll see at the physician’s office. Medical assistants act as doctors’ aides and are a vital part of every health care team. The job is a mix of traditional office work, which includes handling the front desk, answering phones calls and filing insurance forms, combined with more hands-on tasks such as administering injections and drawing blood and preparing it for lab tests.

You should not confuse medical assistants with physician assistants, which have a broader scope of practice and are even able to prescribe medications. The medical assistant job description can be split into two main parts: clinical medical assistant job description and administrative medical assistant job description.

Clinical Medical Assistant Job Description

The Clinical Medical Assistants’ role is to assist physicians and other healthcare practitioners in carrying out daily clinical tasks. They alleviate the extra burden on doctors by helping them with simple duties, such as giving oral medications or changing wound dressings. Medical assistants are a non-licensed healthcare occupation, which means they are widely unregulated and their duties can vary depending on the work environment. However, direct supervision by physicians is always required for clinical medical assistants to perform their routine tasks. The clinical medical assistant job may include the following:

  • Prepare patients for examinations by physicians
  • Administer injections and medications
  • Check patient’s vital signs
  • Sterilize medical equipment and supplies
  • Conduct basic laboratory tests
  • Prepare patients for x-rays
  • Perform electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Take blood samples
  • Change dressings and remove stitches

Administrative Medical Assistant Job Description

Administrative or Secretarial Medical Assistants aid physicians and other healthcare providers in carrying out routine administrative tasks. The administrative medical assistant job may entail the following:

  • Record and file medical information
  • Manage outgoing/incoming calls and emails
  • Complete and submit insurance forms
  • Buy and store medical supplies and equipment
  • Manage billing
  • Take patient appointments

How to become a Medical Assistant

In most states, no formal education is required to be employed as a medical assistant; however, certain states like Minnesota, South Dakota, and California require assistants to graduate from an accredited program in order to perform tasks such as drawing blood or giving x-rays. A high school diploma or equivalent is all that is needed in many cases. There are formal medical assistant education programs provided through vocational schools, community colleges, and universities that usually take about 1 year for completion. A 2-year program will lead to an Associate degree.

Medical Assistant Training

Most medical assistants are trained on site when they are hired. Either a physician or another medical assistant supervises them. Depending on the facility, training can take from a few weeks to several months.

Read More: Medical Assistant Schools

Medical Assistant Certification

Medical Assistant certification is completely voluntary and is strictly based on your employer’s requirements. Depending on the State you reside, the facility you work for, and the supervising physician in charge, each will have different requirements and standards. However, medical assistants with certifications are always more favored in the job selection process. In any case, you must be at least 18 years of age before you can apply for certification, and be ready to undergo a drug test and criminal background check. There are four major organizations that offer credentials:

  • AAMA offers Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
  • AMT offers Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • NCCT offers National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
  • NHA offers Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

CMA is the most popular and recognized of the four organizations. The certification exam is offered 3 times a year by the American Association of Medical Assistants(AAMA) and needs renewal every 5 years.

Read More: Medical Assistant Salary

Medical Assistant Job Description Summary

  • Act as doctor’s aide
  • Supervised by physician
  • No formal education required
  • No certification required
  • 29% employment growth by 2022