Medical Assisting: What They Do & The Benefits of Being One

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Daymar College

Interested in starting a career as a medical assistant? Medical assistants are health professionals working in both clinical and medical environments. They are key players, helping patients feel comfortable during their doctor’s appointment as well as explaining and clarifying doctors’ recommendations and instructions.

Medical assistants are the bridge between every patient and the healthcare professional. Their duties are both clinical as well as administrative. They ensure a smooth welcoming and nurturing environment for the patient.

Medical Assistant Careers are Growing

With the rise of the number of elderly requiring continuous medical attention, the advancement of technology as well as the continuous increase in the number of physician’s offices and healthcare centers, being a medical assistant is becoming a high-demand job.

A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant

While the education path is focused on medical assisting, medical assistants can be cross-trained, and their duties might differ according to several factors such as:

  • The location where they are working (urban vs. rural).
  • The size of the healthcare facility and how many patients it welcomes daily.
  • The specialty of the physician and facility where they are working.

The administrative work includes answering phone calls and scheduling appointments, cordially welcoming the patient and their family when they arrive, filling and keeping record/updating the patients forms and medical records, and helping the patient by filling out insurance forms. Also, a medical assistant will be filling out official forms by using medical coding as well as handling all possible correspondence, bills and bookkeeping. If the patient needs to undergo some laboratory tests, or is getting admitted in a hospital, it is the job of the medical assistant to prepare the necessary forms and paperwork. Finally, if the facility or the physician is using a certain computer application, it is the job of the medical assistant to handle data entry, and digital record management.

The clinical work is very important, and they can be very essential for the proper care of the patient. A medical assistant may be in charge of the following:

  • Interviewing the patient and filling out their family histories.
  • Preparing the examination room for the healthcare professional before they bring in the patient.
  • Seeing the patient and preparing them for what to expect during their visit such as how the physician will examine them, what the treatment will be like, and what are the steps of a certain procedure.
  • Taking the vital signs of the patient such as blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and respiration rate.
  • After preparing the patient, a medical assistant could be asked to assist the physician while the patient is being examined, or the treatment/procedure is being performed.
  • If laboratory tests need to be done, it is the duty of the medical assistant to take the samples such as drawing blood, performing electrocardiograms, and collecting the urine or stool test.
  • Educating patients about medications and special dietary habits they need to start incorporating into their healthy lifestyles.

What else is Part of a Medical Assistant Duties?

A medical assistant is the organizing heart of every office. They ensure the smooth process between healthcare workers and the patient. To be on top of their duties, they should keep in mind that organization is key. Also, they should always anticipate what is needed. A medical assistant that escorts a patient to the examination room should always be observant and ask the proper questions to know what situation the patient is in. Things the medical assistant should look for are:

  • Is the patient sick? Do they have a cough? What is the status of the cough?
  • Is the patient wounded? Is there an open wound? Would the doctor need specific material to place or re-dress the wound? If the wound is wrapped, does the medical assistant need to unwrap it and expose it to make it ready for the examination.
  • Does the medical assistant believe that the status of the patient might require some lab tests to be done?
  • Did the patient have some tests done at a last visit? Are the test results ready?

The secret to succeeding a medical assistant is to simply be proactive, they should not wait to be asked to perform tasks. Remember, the healthcare provider relies on the medical assistant. Finally, take notes for everything: the patient’s answers and all observations. Keep handwriting concise, clear and organized. Steer clear of spelling mistakes and use cheat sheets if needed. Come to work alert; have a goodnight’s sleep and show up with a fully energetic and functional mind and body.

Do I need a Health or Medical Background to Become a Medical Assistant?

The student does not need a formal education to enroll in the medical assistant program. Having a postsecondary education can be a plus when looking for a job after graduation. A vocational school like Daymar College will provide a student with the proper education to start a successful career in the medical assisting field.

What are Medical Facilities Looking For?

As a graduate of a medical assistant program, the graduate will start searching for a job. Keep in mind that recruiting companies are most likely looking for the following skills:

  • The ability to take vital measurements of the patient such as height, weight, blood pressure, and heart rate.
  • The medical assistant should have skills in injecting patients with a vaccine or any injectable medicine. Medical assistant should be able to collect laboratory test samples such as blood samples, saliva samples, and prepare them, in a well-organized way, to be sent out to laboratories.
  • Interpersonal skills and how well the medical assistant interacts with the patient.
  • Skills in putting together appointments and filling out paperwork as needed.
  • Knowledge in medical coding needed to fill out insurance forms and process claims.

Can the Medical Assistant Work Anywhere other than a Physician’s Office or Clinic?

Once the medical assistant has finished their education and has some experience behind them, there will be many opportunities available. While most individuals will look for jobs in physician’s offices or clinics; others might be interested in a different setting. The medical assistant could work in a hospital or long-term care facility. The medical assistant can also find a position in an outpatient care facility that offers medical services and procedures without having patients stay overnight. Another opportunity would be to work in a college or university that has its own clinic or hospital. The medical assistant could also work in a nursing home, an insurance company handling administrative duties, or even a medical research center.

What are the Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant?

There are many benefits that a medical assistant enjoys including a quick road to graduation, working in a team, growing into a career, satisfaction comforting patients, and working in a specialized role.

  • The medical assistant can start building their career very quickly! While most university degrees require a 3 or 4-year program, getting into the medical assistant field can be done in as little as a year for a diploma and 18 months for an associate degree.
  • The medical assistant gets to work as a team member. They will be dealing with healthcare professionals, medical directors, technicians, and patients. This will help them build a career based on trust and collaborative efforts. The medical assistant will also build a good relationship with their patients who will get to connect with them at many levels.
  • The medical assistant can grow their career and get promoted. The more efforts they pour into their job, the better chance they will have to climb the ladder of leadership.
  • Their job will give them a full satisfaction especially after all the comfort they offer their patients. All this interaction with everyone in the office will not let the medical assistant have time to get bored.
  • The medical assistant has the opportunity to work in a specialty role. For example, if they are working in a podiatrist clinic, they could be making casts of feet, developing x-rays and even assisting the physician while he is operating on a patient. If the medical assistant works in an optometrist clinic, they could have tasks such as explaining about eye care and showing patients how to insert and remove contact lenses. If they chose to work in a cosmetic surgery facility; then, their clinical duties will include sterilizing the medical equipment, preparing the room for surgery, giving the patients necessary injections, helping the operating doctor during surgery, following up the patient post operation, sterilizing the room again and making it ready for the next appointment.

Ready to start your new and exciting career as a medical assistant? The Medical Assisting program at Daymar College is designed to prepare current and future employees for the fast-paced changes encountered in the health care industry, and to help develop training, skills and attitudes necessary to excel in medical assisting. This medical assisting program is appropriate for entry-level positions in doctor’s offices, hospitals, home health agencies, and other allied health organizations.