What is a Medical Assistant?
If you have a passion for helping others, you may find that a career as a medical assistant is a great fit for you! As a medical assistant, you’ll find yourself working with medical patients in a variety of different settings. It is a career that you can genuinely feel good about, as you are helping to make a difference in the lives of both the patients and you. The best part? It’s a relatively stable career path, as there are so many different facilities and environments you could find yourself working within.
Medical assistants work alongside doctors and physicians, typically in medical offices, clinics, outpatient facilities, or ambulatory care facilities. There are typically two different routes within this field, the clinical and administrative sides of the job. According to the Occupational Analysis of Medical Assistants, throughout your education to become a medical assistant you will be cross-trained in both.
On a typical day, you could be responsible for a large number of tasks depending on the facility and specific role that you find yourself within, as well as which side of the field you tend to fall more on. Regardless, you will be considered a patient liaison, as you will play a key role in helping the patients to feel comfortable and at ease while visiting their healthcare provider.
If you’re considering a career as a medical assistant, the first step is to find the right program for you by exploring medical assistant colleges. For example, Genesis Career College offers a medical assistant program that provides both classroom instruction and hands-on training through externship opportunities as well as their state-of-the-art computers and equipment. Externship opportunities are critical to gathering industry knowledge and ensuring this is the right field for you. Although it takes a special kind of person to work in the medical field, it’s a great career for those who genuinely want to help others and possess the right characteristics for the job. You can get started by identifying the right school and program for you!
Characteristics of a Good Medical Assistant
Education isn’t all that is required to be successful in this career, however. According to WebMD, you should also possess certain people-centric and communication-centric qualities and characteristics. Listed below are a few of the common characteristics possessed by medical assistants in the field today.
Possessing good communication skills is crucial for medical assistants, as they are the frontline workers in healthcare facilities and are typically the first point of contact for patients. Although the duties range depending on where you work, typically medical assistants work to prepare patients to see the nurse or doctor, ensuring their medical history is accurate and recording their health concerns and questions. Moreso on the administrative side, medical assistants are also the point of contact for scheduling patient appointments, gathering insurance and payment information, and maintaining patient records. Each of these tasks involves a significant amount of human interaction, which is why communication is so critical to their roles.
As a medical assistant, you will also be exposed to sick and injured individuals daily. When patients are sick, it takes a toll on them both physically and mentally, causing them to typically feel a range of different emotions. Because of this, it is important that as a medical assistant you possess empathetic qualities. Patients will turn to you for comfort, and in turn, it will help you as a medical assistant to relate and connect more to your patients.
Attention to Detail
Being detail-oriented is essential to your success as a medical assistant, as a large number of your day-to-day responsibilities involve gathering patient information and recording it in the patient’s health charts and portals. You must possess keen attention to detail so you’re ensuring that you are asking the right questions and getting the right answers from patients. You also must be familiar with medical terminology, as you will be required to log patients’ information and ensure that it’s completely accurate.
Dependability is crucial for any role, however, especially those that involve being at the forefront of people’s health and wellbeing. As a medical assistant, you’re bound to wear multiple different hats depending on the day, and it’s important to be dependable physicians and doctors feel they can rely on you.
Last but not least, you should possess integrity in this field. When you gather a patient’s information, the information you receive is personal and private. Due to HIPAA regulations, you must protect the patient’s privacy at all costs. Because of this, medical assistants must not pass any judgment and possess a high level of integrity to carry out their role.
Medical Assistant Job Duties
As mentioned prior, the day-to-day responsibilities of a medical assistant typically vary. If you work more on the administrative side of the field, tasks of the job could include the following:
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Greeting patients
- Gathering insurance information and coding
- Handling billing
- Managing general office mail
- Updating medical records
However, if you work more on the clinical side of the job, your tasks will differ and may include the following:
- Recording medical information and history
- Assisting doctors with exams
- Collecting laboratory samples
- Managing prescription refills
- Changing wound dressings
However, many medical assistants don’t have a distinctive line drawn between administrative and clinical job tasks, so their role may involve a combination of the tasks depending on the day. Of course, these tasks won’t be prevalent in all medical assistant roles. For instance, you wouldn’t perform phlebotomy and draw blood if you worked for an optometrist. However, one thing is for sure: As a medical assistant, you can expect each day to be a new adventure and to constantly be kept on your feet.