Medical Assistants (MA’s) work in the offices of physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and other healthcare practitioners performing clinical and administrative tasks. An MA’s duties vary from one office to another, depending upon the practitioner’s specialty, the location, and the size of the practice. In small practices MA’s in scrubs clothing perform more varied tasks, handling both clinical and administrative duties; whereas in large practices they tend to specialize in one or a few areas – either clinical or administrative. In any case MA’s report to office managers, department supervisors, or the supervising physician. Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants (PA’s) who examine and treat patients under a physician’s supervision and whose position requires more education than an MA.
Administrative medical assistants are responsible for updating and filing patients’ records, for filling out insurance forms, and for arranging laboratory services and hospital admissions. They also are charged with answering telephones, handling correspondence, greeting patients, scheduling appointments, and handling bookkeeping and billing. The duties of clinical Benzo Withdrawal medical assistants vary according to state law. They are responsible for taking patients’ medical histories, recording vital signs, preparing patients for examinations, assisting the physicians during examinations and explaining treatment procedures to the patients. MA’s in Dickies scrubs also prepare laboratory specimens and perform basic lab tests, sterilize medical equipment, and dispose of contaminated medical supplies. They also instruct patients about diets and medications, administer medications, draw blood, take electrocardiograms, change dressings, remove sutures, telephone prescriptions to pharmacies and authorize drug refills. Medical assistants also keep the examining rooms clean, arrange equipment and instruments, and purchase equipment and supplies.
Depending upon the office and supervising physician, medical assistants can have specialized duties. Ophthalmic MA’s assist ophthalmologists in providing eye care such as measuring and recording vision, conducting diagnostic tests such as testing eye muscle function, applying eye dressings, and teaching patients how to insert and care for contact lenses. Podiatric MA’s take and develop x-rays, make castings of patients’ feet, and assist podiatrists during surgery. Practically all MA’s have a high school diploma; however there are no legal educational or training requirements for the job. Although many medial assistants receive their training on the job, others complete a one or two year program given at a vocational-technical high school, or a junior or community college. These programs result in a diploma for a one-year course or an associate degree for a two-year course.
The instruction covers physiology, anatomy and medical terminology as well as accounting, recordkeeping, keyboarding, and insurance processing. Students in scrub tops also learn laboratory technique, diagnostic and clinical procedure, principles of pharmacology, first aid, and administration of medication. Included in the course are patient relations, office practices, medical law, and medical ethics. MA programs usually also include internships which provide practical experience in a physician’s office or other healthcare facility. There are two national accrediting bodies which accredit MA programs. However, formal training and certification are not required, and many MA’s are trained on the job by attending training sessions and by working under the supervision of experienced coworkers.