Are you interested in becoming a medical assistant? Have you thought about what the work environment would resemble? Do you wonder about interaction level or typical responsibilities? These contemplations are common, and because medical assistance is one of the most promising fields in health care today, learning the particulars of the work environment can be useful to anyone considering entering the field.
Type of Medical Assistant has Bearing on Work Environment
The conditions in which a medical assistant works depend partly on the type of medical assistance the person chooses. Three kinds of medical assistant roles exist for concentration: clinical medical assistants, administrative medical assistants and specialized medical assistants. Other factors that can dictate a medical assistant’s work environment include state law, location, facility size, staff population and the needs of the assistant’s employer. Despite marked differences, such as day-to-day job activities, the work conditions related with the stated specialties do have parallels and resemblances.
Following is an overview of the work conditions associated with each focus, including typical responsibilities, physical environment, standard interactions and some key considerations.
Work Conditions of Clinical Medical Assistants
The majority of clinical medical assistants work in a doctor’s office, clinic or other health care facility. A clinical medical assistant’s role centers largely on patients, assessments and other medical-oriented duties to keep the practice running smoothly. A regular day’s work might include preparing patients for examinations, charting patient vitals, obtaining medical records, helping manage medical supply inventory, performing basic laboratory tests and assisting physicians during examinations.
Physically, the clinical medical assistant is often at the physician’s side and works in close contact with patients who visit the practice. In terms of safety, clinical medical assistants have to be vigilant, meticulous and take proper precautions considering they may change dressings, handle various tools or treatments, prepare x-rays and draw blood.
Work Conditions of Administrative Medical Assistants
Unlike clinical medical assistance, where the focus and environment is mainly medical and assisting the physician in providing patient care, the role of an administrative medical assistant is solely administrative. An administrative medical assistant works mainly in the reception area or front desk of a medical clinic, hospital or other type of practice. Consequently, an administrative medical assistant’s work environment is mostly stationary, which is in high contrast to that of a clinical medical assistant where the person is constantly active and mobile.
Standard responsibilities of an administrative medical assistant mainly consist of maintaining patient medical records, scheduling patient appointments, answering phones, handling billing issues and ordering and stocking materials. Although the environmental risk of administrative medical assistants is lower to that of clinical medical assistants due to responsibilities and exposure, administrative medical assistants must also exercise caution and good judgment when communicating with patients or visitors, maintaining sensitive information and stocking various supplies.
Specialized Medical Assistants
A specialized medical assistant, like a clinical medical assistant, can elect to specialize in a specific field of medicine. At the core, these individuals assist physicians in providing patient care in a respective field. Rather than working at a general physician’s office, specialized medical assistants work at specialized clinics, such as ophthalmic clinics, podiatric clinics or chiropractic clinics. As an example, a specialized medical assistant who specializes in ophthalmology is an ophthalmic medical assistant who works for an eye doctor.
Like clinical medical assistants, the work settings of specialized medical assistants are primarily medical. As with any of the three concentrations, specialized medical assistants often handle several responsibilities simultaneously and interact with other people regularly. Although individual responsibilities resemble mainly those of clinical medical assistants, specialized medical assistants perform both clinical tasks and administrative work in many circumstances. For instance, in addition to performing vision examinations, recording ocular test results and maintaining optical instruments, an ophthalmic medical assistant may also handle appointment schedules and insurance billings.
Most medical assistants work 40-hour weeks in interactive, sanitary, well-lite environments, irrespective of individual duties. Contingent on the office hours and the nature of the medical services offered, some medical assistants work part-time, weekends or evenings.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities for medical assistants are likely to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022 thanks to an aging population, technological advances in medicine and a growing health care industry. The baby boomer generation, for example, will increase demand for preemptive medical amenities provided often by physicians. Physicians will have to employ medical assistants to execute routine administrative and clinical duties. Notably, examiners anticipate that medical assistants who can handle both administrative and clinical duties to have the best job prospects. To reduce costs, employers will likely opt for medical assistants in lieu of more costly personnel, such as nurses. These forecasts also imply a more dynamic, busier work environment for medical assistants in the future.
Ultimately, anyone interested in becoming a medical assistant will find commonality in the work conditions among the three specialties. The differences mainly lie in responsibilities.