Medical assistants are an integral part of an effective medical practice. These highly skilled professionals typically take vitals, assist doctors and other staff with patient exams, schedule appointments, and prep cultures or blood work for additional testing. Medical assistants are employed by hospitals, community clinics and small, private medical practices in the areas of general care or specialized practices such as cardiology, for example.
In small practices, medical assistants may perform numerous duties such as direct patient care as well as administrative tasks. But in larger facilities, medical assistants may have more specialized duties. For example, administrative medical assistants may only perform front offices duties such as scheduling visits, answering phones, greeting patients, handling referrals, bookkeeping, billing and insurance matters. Clinical assistants usually have an entirely different set of responsibilities like taking blood pressure, preparing patients for medical procedures, sterilizing equipment and assisting in treatments. In some practices, clinical medical assistants may have minor patient care duties such as removing stitches.
While there are no formal educational requirements to become a medical assistant, many employers prefer to hire graduates from an accredited medical assistant program. Moreover, some states require medical assistants to successfully complete an accredited program and pass a mandatory state exam. Certification for medical assistants is available through several organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants, the National Center for Competency Testing and the National Health Career Association.
Medical assistant positions are vital to the success of a medical practice. Aspiring assistants can look forward to plentiful job opportunities and career stability. Pay varies by location, size of practice, certification status, and experience. Medical assistants typically earn just over $29,000 a year, while those in the top ten percent can earn more than $41,000. This career path requires patience, dependability, reliability and a keen eye for detail.