Medical Assistant Job Description
As the healthcare industry has expanded, so have the number of jobs for medical assistants, who work in a variety of settings providing clinical and administrative duties, such as taking patient’s history or working with doctors during physical exams. Many of them also are becoming involved with the maintaining of electronic health records.
Some typical medical assistant jobs include:
• Administrative medical assistants often take patient’s information, code patient records, fill out insurance forms and may also buy and store equipment and supplies.
• Clinical medical assistants may have more medical duties, such as handling basic laboratory tests, sterilizing medical equipment, preparing patients for tests like X-rays, and even drawing blood or changing dressings.
• Ophthalmic medical assistants and optometric assistants assist ophthalmologists and optometrists in teaching patients how to use and care for contact lenses.
• Podiatric medical assistants assist podiatrists in making castings for feet, developing X-rays and may even assist podiatrists in surgery.
Medical Assistants Salaries and Employment Outlook
The medical assistant field is one of the fastest growing in the health care industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth of 31% by 2020, much faster than other occupations.
As of 2010, the median pay for a medical assistant was $28,860 a year.
Medical Assistants Work Environment
Medical assistants can be found at any kind of healthcare facility – hospitals, doctor’s offices, nursing homes and clinics for specialists such as podiatrists and optometrists. They work performing a number of duties that are wide-ranging, many of them involving interaction with patients.
Those duties typically include taking patients’ history and vital signs and scheduling appointments. In some cases, they are also allowed to prepare blood for laboratory tests, give injections and assist physicians with examinations.
Medical Assisting Degrees and Certifications
Typically, a medical assistant can begin their career with only a high school diploma and some training. However, more employers are beginning to prefer some secondary education or training.
Certification programs are available at many community colleges and vocational and technical schools, and an increasing number of universities are also offering medical assistant degree programs that can lead to a 2-year associate’s degree. Most certification programs take about 1 year to complete.
Some states also require that medical assistants graduate from an accredited program or pass an exam depending on their job duties. Medical assistants who are required to work with patients during exams – taking blood, for example, or performing X-rays – are typically required to have such licensure.
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