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Medical Assistant Overview - Specialty Areas - Preparation - Day In The Life -
Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations -
Overview PowerPoint - Overview Podcast


Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. They should not be confused with Physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the direct supervision of a physician.

The duties of medical assistants vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner's specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually do many different kinds of tasks, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators.

Medical assistants who perform administrative tasks have many duties. They update and file patients' medical records, fill out insurance forms, and arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services. They also perform tasks less specific to medical settings, such as answering telephones, greeting patients, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, and handling billing and bookkeeping.

For clinical medical assistants, duties vary according to what is allowed by state law. Some common tasks include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for examinations, and assisting physicians during examinations. Medical assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens and sometimes perform basic laboratory tests on the premises, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments.

They might instruct patients about medications and special diets, prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician, authorize drug refills as directed, telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy, draw blood, prepare patients for x-rays, take electrocardiograms, remove sutures, and change dressings.

Medical assistants also may arrange examining room instruments and equipment, purchase and maintain supplies and equipment, and keep waiting and examining rooms neat and clean.

Medical Assistant Resources

Online

Overview:
Overview of the work of Medical Assistants
Specialty Areas:
Areas of Focus
Preparation:
Programs, Degree Fields
Day in the Life:
Worklife and the Workplace
Earnings:
Salary Ranges
Employment:
Statistics, Employment Options
Career Path Forecast:
Predictions for Medical Assistants
Professional Organizations:
Resources, Networking, Support
Podcast:
Overview of the work of Medical Assistants
Internet Resources:
American Association of Medical Assistants
American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 


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