Medical assistants are among some of the most versatile employees in any healthcare clinic. From acting as a front desk receptionist to providing direct patient care, the job of a medical assistant is indeed multi-faceted. If you are considering a career as a medical assistant, reviewing this list of medical assistant job duties will prepare you for the work you will do later when you actually become one.
Medical assistants perform a wide variety of administrative duties, which can include:
- Answering the telephone
- Checking patients in and out
- Verifying insurance information
- Updating patient contact information
- Filing important paperwork in a patient’s medical record
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Updating medical charts and records
- Reading (but not interpreting) the results of laboratory tests to patients
These duties are typically performed in a front office, and involve direct contact with the patient. Other administrative duties may be performed in a “back office”, and do not necessarily involve patient contact. A few of these “back office” duties include:
- Transcribing physician’s notes
- Scheduling laboratory appointments
- Calling in prescriptions to a pharmacy
- Sterilizing medical instruments
- Invoicing insurance companies
- Preparing correspondence related to worker’s compensation claims or personal injury lawsuits
- Pulling charts prior to an appointment
- Maintaining a petty cash fund
- Filing appeals with an insurance company
Direct Patient Care
Medical assistants are perhaps best known for the role they play in patient care. As a medical assistant, you will play a vital role in helping the physician make an accurate diagnosis by performing certain tasks before he or she actually sees the patient. For example, you will likely be responsible for taking vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure etc. and recording them on a medical chart. You may also ask the patient some preliminary questions to give the doctor a better overall picture of the patient’s health. These questions may include:
- What symptoms are you currently experiencing?
- How long have you been experiencing them?
- What if anything makes your symptoms better or worse?
- On a scale of one to ten, rate your current pain level
Upon seeing the patient, a physician may ask you to remain in the room in order to assist with the exam. You may also remain in the room with the patient once the exam is over to help that person get dressed or to monitor the individual for signs of complications.
Medical assistants often perform routine laboratory tests that can be performed inside a clinic. An example is the testing of urine to check for an infection, or checking the glucose level of blood. As such, you will likely be authorized to collect and maintain samples of bodily fluids such as blood, urine and saliva. You may also be allowed to draw blood or start an IV, so long as you have a physician’s approval.
When working in a specialty clinic, you could perform additional duties that are unique to that type of practice. For example, when working in a cardiology clinic, you may perform EKGs on patients. If employed at a podiatry clinic, you might measure a patient’s feet for custom orthotics. In a wound care center or hospital, you might be required to assist a doctor with minor surgical procedures.
To perform these tasks efficiently, a medical assistant should have:
- An ability to multi-task
- Good attention to detail
- The ability to work well under pressure
- Excellent written and oral communications skills
These are just a few of the things you could expect to do on a regular basis once you become a medical assistant. To find out more about the type of work a medical assistant performs, contact us.