So, you want to know What Does A Medical Assistant Do? A good way to answer that question, is to read a Medical Assistant Job Description. As a multi-skilled health practitioner, a medical assistant is expected to perform multiple roles in the healthcare practitioner’s clinic or office, the hospital, or other healthcare-related establishments. The duties of a medical assistant may be categorized as clinical or administrative. In most cases, medical assistants will be required to perform both kinds of tasks. However, in larger institutions they may be delegated more specialized tasks such as strictly administrative or strictly clinical.
Administrative roles that a medical assistant may be asked to fulfill include secretary or personal assistant, record keeper, and accountant. As a personal assistant, the medical assistant greets patients and visitors courteously, and answers the telephone. They schedule subsequent appointments and laboratory procedures, and make necessary arrangement for hospital admissions. They are also tasked to code and accomplish insurance forms.
As a record keeper, medical assistants must exhibit expertise with computer programs, establish, update and file the medical records, and transcribe healthcare practitioner dictations. They may also be tasked with billing the patient, updating the accounting books, and managing the office payroll.
The clinical duties of a medical assistant involve medical procedures such as obtaining the patient’s vital signs, height and weight, and extracting the clinical history. They explain procedures before that are performed, and assist the healthcare practitioner in their examinations. Depending on state law, medical assistants may also be expected to perform blood extractions, x-ray procedures and take electrocardiograms (EKG). They also instruct patients to properly collect other specimens for laboratory examination such as urine and stool. Under supervision, medical assistants may perform basic therapeutic interventions such as wound cleaning and dressing, suture removal, and bandage and splint application. They explain the medications prescribed by the healthcare practitioner, authorize prescription refills, and sometimes, can even administer medications.
Additional specialized clinical tasks may be expected of medical assistants depending on their area of work. Dental medical assistants are expected to be familiar with the operation and maintenance of specialized dental equipment. Podiatric medical assistants maybe asked to apply casts expertly, and sometimes, assist them with surgery.
Operational functions of a medical assistant include routine inventory of supplies and equipment, routine assessment and maintenance of administrative (computers, printers, etc.) and clinical equipment (thermometer, blood pressure apparatus, EKG, etc.), as well performing measures for quality control.
Finally, in addition to the duties described above, a medical assistant is expected to become the “communications liaison between the patients and the busy physicians. This is where their understanding of medical conditions and medical terminology will come into play. Because of their role as patient advocates, they are expected to obtain the patient’s trust by appearing approachable yet professional at all times, in order to elicit all the necessary information pertinent to the patient’s health-related concerns.
Duly accredited medical assistant training programs provide future medical assistants with the requisite knowledge and basic skills necessary in order to fulfill their job requirements. On the other hand, the medical externship or clinical practicum provides medical assistants with necessary experience to equip them for actual employment.