Medical Assistant Job Description
If you enjoy helping others and have considered a job in the medical field, a medical assistant career might be a good choice for you.
Medical assistants play an instrumental role in healthcare and work in a variety of facilities, including doctor’s offices, clinics, and medical offices. Some also work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and more.
Medical assistant jobs encompass a wide scope of duties that vary from one place of employment to another. Some work is more administrative in nature while others combine clinical duties with the role.
Some assistants act as receptionists and greet patients when they arrive at a clinic. They may also answer telephone calls, schedule patient appointments, or plan for patients to go to the hospital or undergo medical testing.
A medical assistant might also enter patient information into a computer, file and update medical records, or do other general bookkeeping and office tasks.
Some medical assistant jobs might also require you to complete insurance forms and enter the correct codes when filing with a patient’s insurance company.
The clinical side of medical assisting continues to expand as the need for more healthcare professionals grows. Clinical duties include:
- Escorting patients to an exam room
- Asking patients about symptoms and collecting information for their doctor to review
- Updating relevant data about a patient’s health history
- Taking vital signs
- Collecting lab samples to help aid in diagnosis
- Assisting in wound care
- Performing medical tests such as an electrocardiogram
- Helping physicians during patient examinations
- Processing requests for prescription refills
- Dispensing medicine under the direction and instruction of a physician
- Giving instructions about prescriptions, diet, or other important protocol
The majority of medical assistants gather the necessary information to have on hand before the physician examines a patient.
There is a high demand for medical assistants and opportunities abound. The field is expected to see an 18.9% increase over the next eight years. That means better job security for you in a career that offers many options and great pay!
Medical Assistant Salary
As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for medical assistants is approximately $17.88 an hour, or $37,190 annually.
California, Texas, Florida, and New York employ more medical assistants than other states in the U.S., while Washington, D.C., Alaska, California, and Massachusetts pay them higher salaries.
The BLS also reports that the majority of medical assistants in the U.S. work in physician offices, medical and surgical hospitals, and outpatient care centers.
Northwell Health in New York has more than 300 open medical assistant job positions located throughout the state. Northwell Health is New York state’s largest private employer and healthcare provider, serving patients throughout 850-plus outpatient clinics and more than 20 hospitals.
Middlesex Health in Connecticut often has available medical assistant jobs. These jobs are available within a hospital setting or as a home health aide, traveling to patients’ homes to provide care.
Tenet Health is also looking to staff several of its clients’ medical assistant job openings across multiple states, including Texas, California, and Arizona.
Medical Assistant Training and Requirements
Medical assistant jobs are great for people who want a career in healthcare but don’t want to put a lot of time into training.
At a minimum, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, the state requirements to work as a medical assistant will vary. Some states may not require formal training at all if you only do administrative work, while others will require training or certification if you perform clinical duties.
For instance, if your job requires you to take x-rays or draw blood, special requirements will likely have to be met. You may need to get certification from an accredited medical assistant program, while some states might only require you to pass a test. Other states might require both certification and testing through a nationally recognized accreditation program such as the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
It’s advisable for you to learn the educational and certification requirements of the state where you intend to work as a medical assistant before pursuing a medical assistant career.
Some employers will provide on-the-job training and won’t require you to attend classes. However, some will give greater consideration to applicants who have attended classes and are certified.
You can get training at a community college or vocational school, or college, and in most cases, certification programs for medical assistants take around a year to complete. Some schools also have two-year programs to earn an associate degree.
Potential topics you can expect to learn about include basic medical vocabulary, anatomy, pharmacology, and insurance procedures.
In addition, it’s beneficial to have good time management and communication skills, great attention to detail, proficient computer skills, and a penchant for following protocol.