What are the Different Medical Assistant Roles?
Medical assistant roles have several differences, depending on the job setting and whether or not an employee chooses to specialize on a specific duty. Similar to nurses, they are universally capable of performing a variety of tasks, but they can also assume specific responsibilities.
A medical assistant in a hospital
The function they perform are basically the same as what nursing assistants do, except when specific needs have to be addressed. Playing the role of an administrative assistant involves becoming a receptionist, handling billing and record keeping, filling out patient forms, and creating schedules for other medical professionals.
They also need to oversee direct patient needs, such as administering medications prepared by and supervised by a doctor or other medical professionals. On the clinical side of things, hospital medical assistants may also need to examine blood, stool and urine samples in a laboratory, handle patient referrals, and perform electrocardiogram readings.
A medical assistant in a clinic
In a clinic, a medical assistant work is more comprehensive as opposed to working in a specific unit of a big hospital. They basically fill in the gaps necessary for doctors to carry out a variety of patient procedures. This is why they are often referred to as a generalist in small clinic, performing a variety of roles, from greeting patients to removing sutures. Under this environment, the administrative and clinical skills of medical assistants ensure that everything in the clinic runs smoothly and that physicians and other health practitioners can do their jobs neatly and in an organized manner.
A medical assistant in a private practice
Among the many employers of medical assistants, private practice is hiring more than any other health care institutions. This is largely due to the cost and efficiency that such professionals provide. After all, their administrative and clinical abilities make it possible for medical assistants to perform tasks that are normally done by two different employees. A healthcare assistant with skills in phlebotomy, for example, would mean a private practice would only need to hire one employee instead of two. Working in a private practice, however, requires skill sets specific to the needs of a practice. Apart from basic clerical duties and acting as a patient liaison, they also need to handle basic tests and examinations, so physicians can see more patients and increase the success of a private practice.
A medical assistant in ambulatory care
Ambulatory care is probably the most drastic among the settings that a medical assistant can work in. Apart from providing clerical and clinical support, they also need to act quickly and trust their training and instincts so that EMTs can be more effective and efficient in taking care of their patients. A typical day of medical assistance in ambulatory care involves completing necessary patient forms, performing point-of-care testing, obtaining specimens or samples, and ensuring the ambulance is well-stocked. When other settings allow plenty of room to breathe, an ambulatory care environment may not. Everything must be done quickly and with as little mistakes as possible.
Regardless of which medical assistant setting you end up in, there are routine task that you would commonly do day in and day out. The American Association of Medical Assistants categorize job responsibilities between administrative and clinical duties. They made it clear, however, that any assistance you may provide vary depending on location, size of the facility, state law and specialty of a health care institution. Just for a quick overview, functions may include but not limited to the following:
Building patient relationship
Whether on the phone or through personal interaction, medical assistants must be experts in building rapport and ensuring a patient feels at ease during a doctor's visit.
Updating and smiling patient medical records
This is one of the most important tasks in a medical assistant's job, because patient records must be kept current and concise, complete with detailed written accounts.
Performing routine medical test
Depending on medical assistant certification and skill sets, they may also be required to remove sutures, change dressing, administer medications, draw blood, deliver injections, and provide clinical medical assistance.