Medical Assistant Responsibilities Depend on the Type of Employment You Choose
Medical assistant responsibilities are many and varied, and truly depend on your place of employment, or on the type of employment you choose within the field. First, let’s talk about wanting to work within a truly medical, or clinical, environment. The medical assistant who works right alongside the physician and works one-on-one with patients may be given the responsibilities of “charting” update into patients’ medical histories, checking vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate), using a pressurized water pump to remove patients’ ear wax, taking out sutures, advising patients about the types of testing and medicines the doctor has ordered, sending faxes to pharmacies, sterilizing medical instruments, changing linens and re-stocking examining rooms, and giving oral, topical and/or injectable medications.
Medical assistants who are mainly office-based have a different set of responsibilities, including filing (patient records), filling out insurance forms, billing for doctors’ and laboratory services, trouble-shooting claims by speaking directly with insurance company representatives, ordering medical and office supplies, advising patients about privacy (HIPPA) laws, scheduling patients’ office visits and medical tests and balancing cash drawers.
As is indicated above, these office-based medical assistants have the added responsibilities of having to be proficient at answering (often) multiple-line phones, delivering detailed patient messages, typing letters, entering data into medical software programs, bookkeeping and transcribing doctors’ notes from a recording.
Some medical assistants even amass specialized knowledge so that they may work in, for example, laboratory settings–or with physicians with specialized practices, such as cardiologists (heart doctors) and podiatrists (foot doctors).
A laboratory-based medical assistant must be able to memorize thousands of medical terms, as blood-and-cell analysis is based on the thousands of minute parts within these tissues. Plus, lab tests are ordered by doctors, clinical researchers and Ph.D.s., who consistently use their own jargon. A proficiency with laboratory computer software and the types of detailed practices employed by specific labs are musts.
Physicians who routinely perform heart angioplasties and catheterizations have their own, unique software programs for patient data input and monitoring. Their medical assistants have the increased responsibilities of understanding these heart procedures and the hundreds of medications that are often prescribed for the heart and human circulatory system.
These specialized medical assistant positions require extra course work and a determination to log many more study hours.
It isn’t hard to see that medical assistants–in order to carry out their many responsibilities–need to have, or to acquire, the following “personal strengths”: 1) the ability to deal with different kinds of people, 2) A love of, and curiosity about, science and medicine, 3) the propensity to multi-task, and to accomplish–or to keep in mind–several things at once.
In order to become state-certified as a medical assistant, you must complete an approved program which carefully monitors your ability to carry out the above-described responsibilities. Accredited instructors prepare practicum experiences–at hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices–which measure how well, and how quickly, you: 1) Continue to move “on your feet” for an 8-to-10-hour shift, 2) Take direction from doctors and nurses, 3) Write and/or type in between ministering directly to patients, 4) Remain cheerful and project confidence while patients are upset and complaining, 5) Receive “correction” from your superiors with an open-to-learning attitude, 6) Refrain from gossiping about patients and medical professionals, 7) Become “rattled” when you can’t recall a piece of information, or how to accomplish a certain procedure, 8) Refuse to ask questions–of the instructors or of the doctors/nurses–especially about matters that could negatively impact patients, 9) Complain when given, or offered, extra responsibilities.
If you feel you can “rise above” your limitations, if you believe you have the strengths described above, and if you’ve always wanted to help others within the medical field, contact us for information about the best programs for medical assistant certification.