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Job Profile: Medical Assistant

Although the specific tasks of a medical assistant will vary based on the location, size, and specialty of the office that they work in, in general, as a medical assistant, you will handle both administrative and clinical duties. This usually means reporting directly to an office manager, a physician, or another health practitioner. In small practices, you will likely be a "generalist," involved in all aspects of the office; in larger practices it is more common for medical assistants to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators. Medical assistants may also work in physician's offices, clinics, and surgery centers, all of which are outpatient settings.

The main tasks a medical assistant is expected to perform range from office/paperwork to patient care. The office work can include scheduling, coordinating, and monitoring patient appointments; processing and managing insurance claims, receivables, and payables; transcribing physicians' notes into permanent chart documentation; and preparing and maintaining patients' medical records. When it comes to actually practicing medicine, you will be involved in assisting with examinations, procedures, and treatments; collecting and processing specimens; performing routine diagnostic tests; preparing and administering medications; operating x-ray machines; and instructing patients in health-related issues.
Although there is no licensing for medical assistants, some states require them to take a test or course before they can perform certain procedures (i.e. taking x-rays). As a medical assistant you must be able to meet certain standards. Employers look for experienced or certified applicants because those applicants can prove their ability to meet these industry standards. If you're serious about becoming a medical assistant, getting the appropriate education is the first step to achieving your goals.

TIP: If you can find the time to volunteer at your local hospital while you are completing your medical assistant training/certification, you will be better prepared for the job than many other candidates.

Schools to consider: