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What Are the Different Medical Assistant Jobs?

A medical assistant taking a patient's history.
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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
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Most medical assistant jobs include aiding medical professionals with a number of important tasks. Medical assistants can also perform administration tasks, and some assistants even purchase medical equipment for medical facilities. The range of tasks required of a medical assistant varies depending upon the workplace.

Medical assistant jobs can be found within private clinics, hospitals, and doctors' offices. Generally, those assistants hired by smaller offices will have to take on a number of different duties including filing, record keeping, and even answering phones. Larger hospitals often utilize the skills of a medical assistant during actual medical procedures.

Patients often meet with a medical assistant prior to meeting with a doctor. During an initial meeting, it is the job of an assistant to weigh, measure, and record any technical patient data. In addition, assistants may administer injections, apply bandages, answer basic medical questions, perform simple tests, and take x-rays.

Most medical assistant jobs require some basic education. While many aspects of this position can be learned on the job, employers tend to select applicants who have formal training. Various vocational schools offer medical assistant degrees, and candidates with this type of degree often have the best chance at securing a steady job.

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Vocational schools teach aspiring medical assistants basic match, anatomy, physiology, medical ethics, and useful medical terms. Students also learn laboratory skills, first aid techniques, and various clinical procedures. Upon graduation, certification within the medical assistant field can be achieved. Aside from educational experience, candidates for medical assistant jobs must have a number of positive personality traits such as communication and analytical skills.

The American Association of Medical Assistants and the American Medical Technologists both offer medical assistant certification through training and examinations. While certification is not necessary in order to apply for medical assistant jobs, this professional standing does help to improve candidacy.

Job placement agencies, government employment offices, and high school job placement services will help future assistants to find work within their field. Once a job has been acquired, there is hope for advancement within this field. Assistants that prove to be invaluable inside of a workplace environment may be promoted to the position of supervisor. Those that seek further education within the medical field will also have many opportunities to advance within the workplace.

Since medical attention is needed all over the globe, medical assistant jobs are relatively secure. With proper training, certification, and job experience, most medical assistants will find this carer path rewarding.

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Discuss this Article

anon933486
Post 9

I am currently working in a doctor's office. I was offered a part time right out of my externship and was happy to be a part of the team. Little did I know that I was expected to run the front office, take vitals keep, the office in stock and draw blood all with only the assistance of other externs (who may or may not show up), because during the time that I am in the office the office manager is off.

I don't know if this is normal practice in doctor's offices, but I am feeling very overwhelmed and have begun to look elsewhere.

Azuza
Post 7

One of my cousins used to work as a medical assistant at an allergist's office. She didn't have any experience as a medical assistant when she got the job either!

She was working at the office at the front desk for about 8 months when a medical assistant job opened up. They encouraged her to apply for it, and they hired her after she went through the interview process. Then she received on the job training.

I know some places require a certification, but this just goes to show that some doctors offices will train you if they like you!

starrynight
Post 6

@ceilingcat - That's good information to know! If always pays to do your research before you spend time and money going to school for something.

I also considered going to school so I could apply for medical assisting jobs. The thing that stopped me is that there's really no room for advancement in the field. There's no position about medical assistant you can be promoted to, or go to more school for.

A lot of medical assistants end up going back to school to become nurses, and from what I understand, most of the classes you take as a medical assistant don't count towards credits in a nursing program. So you're basically back to square one!

ceilingcat
Post 5

It seems like there are a lot of medical assistant job opportunities these days. I was actually considering going into the field, so I did a lot of searches online and in newspapers to see what kind of jobs were available.

There were many, but most of them required experience and/or a specific certification. As the article mentioned, the American Medical Technologists and the American Association of Medical Assistants both offer certifications in medical assisting. The National Healthcareer Association offers one as well.

However, all those certifications are not created equal by all doctors offices! A lot of them ask for one specific certification and won't accept any of the others. So if you're going to go into medical assisting, make sure you get a certification that's marketable in your area.

cloudel
Post 4

@orangey03 - I had a mean medical assistant as a young child, and this made me avoid going to the doctor even as an adult. Our perceptions are shaped so much in our childhood, and that one medical assistant affected me deeply in this area.

She did not like children, and she worked at a pediatrician’s office. How she got the job is a mystery to me. She was stern and cold.

She jabbed me with a needle and didn’t even warn me about the sting. She ripped off my bandage without a warning, and she yelled at me when I squirmed.

She never offered me any of the candy in the jar for patients, and she never used colored bandages made for children. She taught me the fear of the doctor’s office, and now I only go if I feel like I’m dying.

orangey03
Post 3

I like it whenever I go to a doctor’s office with a friendly medical assistant. It’s so nice to have someone to calm your nerves while taking your information.

I’m usually anxious about checkups. I really hate having my blood drawn, but the medical assistant at the clinic I go to cracks jokes and makes small talk before and while she does it. This makes it so much easier on me.

I wonder if the reason some people are so scared of going to the doctor could have more to do with negative experiences with medical assistants they had as children? I could definitely see how this could have a big impact on a developing mind.

Perdido
Post 2

@Oceana - This is the predicament that many people fall into, because how do you get experience without having any to begin with? I got lucky one summer, because my cousin was a doctor.

He let me work in his front office for a couple of months. I didn’t get to do any injections or medical techniques, but I did get to put on my resume that I had worked in a clinic. I did a lot of filing and telephone answering, as well as checking people in up front.

It really helped when I went to look for a full-time job. I took classes at night to get certified and worked during the day as a medical secretary. Once I graduated, I got promoted, and I got to do things like check blood pressure and weigh patients.

Oceana
Post 1

I saw a medical assistant job opening a few years ago at a women’s clinic, and I applied for the position. The only experience I had in the field was working at a vet’s office for a few months as a receptionist, but they interviewed me anyway.

During the interview, they asked me lots of questions that I could not answer with what they wanted to hear. Basically, they asked me if I had ever done various tasks or if I even knew how. It got very awkward for me, because it was becoming painfully apparent that I was not qualified for the job.

Even a medical assistant who will serve mainly secretarial duties need to have had some prior work in a doctor’s office. I learned that experience working with humans is preferred over veterinary experience in this field.

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