A pediatric medical assistant is a professional within the medical field who works either in a pediatrician's office, in a children's hospital, or in some other environment in which he assists with the medical care of children. The specific rules for licensing for medical assistants vary depending on the location in which the assistant is practicing. Generally, such assistants receive less training in medicine and medical care than nurses and instead focus their education and duties more on the administrative functions of running an office.
Most commonly, a pediatric medical assistant obtains an associate's degree, which is a two-year program. The assistant may also obtain certification through other programs, through obtaining a four-year bachelor's degree in a related field, or through experience working in a hospital setting. While medical assistants can work in any doctor's office, those who specialize in working in a pediatric capacity generally like children and want to work in medical fields where children are treated.
The duties of a pediatric medical assistant vary depending on state laws. Duties are also based on the individual's experience and the doctor's delegation of duties and responsibilities. Generally, the functions involve helping to run the office in an administrative capacity, as well as having some patient interaction.
It is common for a pediatric medical assistant to set appointments for patients and to remind patients of their appointments through phone calls and reminder cards. The assistant may also keep the doctor's calendar up to date. He generally also has some responsibility for filing medical files and dealing with the other administrative tasks of keeping the office running, such as contacting labs for test results, faxing forms to schools verifying vaccinations, and sending medical records on to new physicians when a patient changes doctors.
While a pediatric medical assistant is not qualified to provide care, he may explain to children or their parents what will be occurring in an exam. He may help hold a child having a shot or may help entertain or comfort a child undergoing medical treatment within the doctor's office. He may also assist in performing lab tests, prepare a patient for an exam by issuing a jar to the patient for a urine sample, weigh a patient before the exam, or perform other such related prep work before the patient sees the doctor.