Medical Assistant Duties and How to Do Them Well

A medical assistant is an in-demand health care professional who provides indispensable help to physicians and nurses. There are many medical assistant duties and responsibilities that must be fulfilled, but they can be learned by going to school and completing a diploma program, like the Medical Assistant program offered at Hunter Business School.

Certified medical assistant jobs are numerous for trained professionals who know how to perform the important duties needed in a medical setting. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of medical assisting is growing much faster than average job growth. Between 2014 and 2024 there are expected to be nearly 150,000 new positions for medical assistants.

If you have already been considering a career in this field, or you are well on your way by completing a training program, it’s important that you have an understanding of what the medical assistant duties and responsibilities are, how to perform them well, and how to be a useful and efficient component in a doctor’s office or medical center.

Major Medical Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

Exactly what duties will fall to you as a working medical assistant depends on your employer, the medical setting in which you work, and the other employees working with you. However, there are certain duties that you can expect to be responsible for no matter where you work in this role.

As you work toward your career in the medical field, make sure you know what these medical assistant duties and responsibilities are, so that you can be prepared to be the best medical caregiver possible.

Patient Care – The number one role of a medical assistant in any type of setting is to care for patients. This means more than just routine clinical skills like being able to take a patient’s blood pressure or medical history. It also means making patients feel comfortable and helping explain a doctor’s instructions. In other words, a medical assistant is like a liaison between patient and doctor.

Taking Vital Signs and Performing Other Basic Medical Procedures – Basic medical assistant duties and responsibilities include simple clinical procedures to help doctors save time and focus on more complicated aspects of patient care. This means you have to be able to take blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs, and maybe even perform simple medical procedures like getting medication prepared or removing sutures.

Collecting and Preparing Laboratory Samples – The medical assistant’s list of duties for most medical offices also includes taking specimens from patients and preparing them to go to a laboratory for testing. This may mean instructing a patient on how to collect a urine sample or even drawing blood. Some medical assistants may also be expected to perform laboratory tests and record the results.

Directly Assisting Physicians and Nurses – Medical assistants are often in the exam room with the doctor and patient, assisting with procedures and exams. This entails handing the doctor needed tools or recording information in a medical chart as the doctor examines a patient. Medical assistants may also get more hands-on and actually assist in procedures and exams.

Communicating with Patients – Communicating with patients is a crucial duty for medical assistants. This begins with patients coming in the door and ends with their leaving. Physicians rely on medical assistants to prepare patients for exams, explain what will happen next, and help them understand the doctor’s instructions for medication and future appointments.

Administrative Tasks – A medical assistant career is varied, and for many professionals in this field, that means doing administrative jobs as necessary. Medical assistant duties and responsibilities often include answering the phone, taking messages, making appointments, filing and updating medical records, arranging laboratory services, and handling billing or bookkeeping.

Tips on Medical Assistant Duties and Being a Star Caregiver

Knowing and being trained to perform all the basic medical assistant duties and responsibilities are important steps toward being a good professional working in this field. To take the next step, though, and to become an excellent medical assistant, you need to understand what it takes to perform these duties well and live up to the standards of the physicians and nurses.

Make Sure Your Duties Are Clear – While most of the basic medical assistant’s duties and responsibilities are uniform across workplaces, there are some variations. Make sure you understand exactly what your medical assistant job description is, what you are expected to do, and what you are not allowed to do, as at any new job. This will ensure you meet expectations and that patients are well cared for.

Practice, Practice, Practice – Practice makes perfect, and this saying couldn’t be truer than when applied to caring for patients. A great place to start is in your hands-on training program, but don’t stop there. Let your family be guinea pigs for you as you practice quickly and efficiently, preparing patients for an exam, taking temperatures, or measuring blood pressure.

Watch and Learn – You will have learned how to do many of the medical assistant duties and responsibilities in your classroom work, but expect to get on-the-job training as well. Never forget that you have more to learn. Watch those medical assistants and other professionals who have been working longer than you, and let them train you in the procedures and policies specific to the office in which you end up working.

Be a Good Listener – Part of your job as a medical assistant is communication, but that means more than just talking to patients. You have to listen to patients so you can help them explain their concerns and questions to the doctor. Likewise, you must be able to listen to the doctor or nurse so that you can help the patient understand.

Stay Organized – Administrative professionals are responsible for a lot of different aspects of an office. If your medical assistant duties and responsibilities include administrative tasks, you will be an important part of keeping the office running smoothly. Be organized with files, patient messages, and appointments to help everyone work more efficiently and to keep patients safe.

Important Qualities for Managing Medical Assistant Duties

It is crucial that you have been trained in the clinical and administrative tasks that medical assistants are expected to perform on the job in order to be a great medical professional. On the other hand, there are some less tangible qualities that are also important to have to do the job well.

Employers, like administrators and physicians, look for certain qualities in potential medical assistants beyond the technical skills learned in school.

Communication Skills – It can’t be overstated that the medical assistant’s duties and responsibilities revolve around communication. Employers hiring medical assistants will be looking for people with a proven ability to listen, follow directions, and explain difficult concepts.

A Positive and Friendly Attitude – Your role as a medical assistant is patient-centric. Your main role is to work with patients, to prepare them, to help them, to communicate with them, and more. This requires a friendly and outgoing attitude and a willingness to be positive and compassionate.

Because medical assistant duties and responsibilities vary beyond the basic, expected roles, employers look for people who are adaptable. You must be willing and able to jump from one task to another that may not be related.

A Willingness to Learn – Your education doesn’t end with your diploma in medical assisting. You will learn valuable skills on the job, and you may even need to participate in professional development to keep your skills up-to-date.

Ability to Work Well in a Team – Caring for patients is a team effort. All the people you see working in a medical setting are contributing to the care of every patient. It is crucial that you are able to work well with others, which means getting along even if you are in a bad mood, listening and communicating, and taking instruction.

A medical assistant career could be waiting just around the corner for you. If you are excited about working with patients, about caring for people, and about learning clinical skills, you are ready to start working toward this exciting career. Enrolling in and earning your diploma from Hunter Business School’s Medical Assistant program is just the beginning.

From getting your education and training, you will move on to become a professional in the medical field with medical assistant duties and responsibilities to manage every day on the job. To get the job you’ve always wanted, know what will be expected of you, and know what employers are looking for. With this knowledge and tips for how to do this important job well, you will be on your way to becoming a medical assistant!

Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.

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