Role of the Medical Assistant

What is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Job Responsibilities

Medical assistants are cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical duties.

Administrative Duties (may include, but not limited to):

  • Greeting patients
  • Answering telephones
  • Working with electronic medical records
  • Coding and filling out insurance forms
  • Scheduling appointments

Clinical Duties (may include, but not limited to):

  • Taking medical histories
  • Preparing the patient for an exam
  • Recording vital signs
  • Assisting the provider during exams
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Drawing blood
  • Instructing patients about medication and special diets
  • Preparing and administering medications as directed by a healthcare provider
  • Sterilizing medical equipment
  • Removing sutures or changing dressings

How is a medical assistant different from other allied health professions?

Medical assistants are one of the most versatile allied health professionals. They are cross-trained to perform clinical and administrative responsibilities.

How is a medical assistant different from a physician assistant?

Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks under the direct supervision of a licensed health care provider.

Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of a physician.

Where do medical assistants work?

Medical assistants mainly work in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics.

What is the typical work week of a medical assistant?

Most full-time medical assistants work a regular 40-hour week. Some work part time, evenings, or weekends.

Helpful Resources

The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)

Medical Assisting Career Pamphlet (courtesy of the AAMA)

The CMA Credential (courtesy of the AAMA)

What is a Certified Medical Assistant? (courtesy of the AAMA)