Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical duties for physicians, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, and chiropractors. Administrative duties include answering telephones, scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, greeting patients, handling insurance forms, arranging hospital services, managing the finances, billing of patients, and managing supplies. Clinical duties vary according to the field an individual works in but may include taking patient histories, recording vital signs such as temperature and pulse rate, preparing patients for examinations and x-rays, collecting and processing lab specimens, drawing blood, applying dressings, removing sutures, preparing and administering medications, calling in prescriptions to pharmacies, etc. State law may also regulate what clinical duties medical assistants may or may not do under the supervision of a physician.
Individuals may specialize in certain areas of medical assisting. For example, ophthalmic medical assistants specialize in the area of eye care. They may do such things as administering vision measurement tests, changing eye dressings, educating patients on the use of contact lenses, etc.
Medical assistants are employed in offices and clinics of physicians, ophthalmologists, chiropractors, and podiatrists. They may also work in hospitals and in other healthcare settings. Educational Requirements and Resources
In terms of education, an individual must have a high school diploma or equivalent. An individual can become a medical assistant through on-the-job training. However most employers prefer to hire individuals who have graduated from an accredited medical assisting educational program. Certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs are available throughout the United States. The following agencies accredit medical assisting programs:
After the education process is complete, individuals have an optional choice of becoming certified. (Certification is required in a few states.) Even though certification is optional, most employers prefer individuals who are certified. The following agencies administer certification examinations:
To learn more about medical assisting as a career, please visit theAmerican Association of Medical Assistants.