What is medical assisting? | Institute of Medical and Business Careers

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What is medical assisting?

In the healthcare field, there are many important roles that incorporate patient interaction. Medical assisting is an area within healthcare that focuses on supporting the doctors and nurses that provide medical care to patients.

Medical assistants are vital members of the patient care team, covering important elements of the patient care lifecycle, including: recording patient information, history and vitals; assisting with diagnosis and treatment; ensuring patient comfort; and supporting the medical professionals as they apply treatment. In fact, much of the initial patient interaction and support comes from the medical assistants. Medical assistants provide support in both administrative and clinical tasks related to patient care.

Medical assistants work with people of all ages. Babies and children, adults, and the elderly, all receive support from medical assistants throughout their medical care. This includes preventative care for healthy patients as well those who become ill.

Because of the range of administrative, clinical, and supporting tasks performed by medical assistants, it is important that they are well trained, detail-oriented, personable, and enjoy helping others.

What tasks do medical assistants perform?

Medical assistants provide support to doctors and nurses on everything from greeting patients, providing administrative support in the office, obtaining a patient’s vital signs and symptoms, performing diagnostic testing, and even administering injections, prescriptions or care as ordered by the doctor. It is safe to say that the role a medical assistant plays is very important to patient care.

Medical assistants also ensure all required health and safety protocols are followed at all times and that equipment is maintained and sterilized after use with each patient.

Where do medical assistants work?

Medical assistants work in a variety of healthcare settings. Of course, medical assistants work in doctor’s offices, medical clinics, and hospitals. Medical assistants also work in assisted living centers, occupational health offices, rehabilitation centers, laboratories, testing facilities, and for home health companies.

Depending on their interests, a medical assistant can select a patient group as a specialization or preference. For example, a medical assistant could work at a children’s hospital or with a pediatric group if they enjoy interacting and helping children. There are many other options too, such as working with the elderly (geriatric practices), urgent care, or even specific diseases such as dialysis clinics (kidney disease).

How do I become a medical assistant?

Because of the specialized clinical and administrative tasks medical assistants perform, and the health and safety protocols required, it is very important that medical assistants have both the technical training and job skills necessary for the role. The best way to demonstrate both is to enroll in a certificate program that provides coursework in these areas and that gives you the hands-on training opportunities of an internship or externship as well.

Those that complete a certificate program and who also successfully complete the Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) exam, may have even more opportunities for employment.

What is it like to be a medical assistant?

As medical assistants work in many types of healthcare settings, there are shifts available at almost any time of day. A medical assistant could choose to work a standard day shift, longer days but fewer days per week, or even over nights and on weekends. Many employers offer both part-time or full-time employment options. Some also offer opportunities to work overtime for additional pay. Regardless of your scheduling needs, you should be able to find an employment opportunity that works for you; though in some cases you may have to relocate to find the right employer.

Medical assistants are needed in all states and the skills and experience learned in a certificate program and on the job can be used in nearly any medical assistant role, especially for those that have passed the Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) exam. Between the opportunity to work many different shifts and the ability to work in any location, medical assisting provides excellent career flexibility. It is a great field for parents, military spouses, and those that enjoy helping others.