What is a Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant is a health care provider who performs administrative and clinical tasks to support the work of doctors and health professionals. Medical assistants perform routine procedures such as measuring patients’ vital signs, administering medications and injections, recording information in medical records-keeping systems, preparing and handling medical instruments and supplies, and collecting and preparing specimens of bodily fluids and tissues for laboratory testing. Traditionally medical assistants were trained-on-the-job medical support staff without a specific group identity. Medical assistants generally held jobs only in ambulatory care centers, urgent care facilities, and clinics, but this is now changing. Many medical assistants are now employed by public and private offices and hospitals.
Medical Assistant Duties
Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians and other health practitioners running smoothly. Duties vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually do both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to a physician or other health practitioner. Medical assistants should not be confused with physician assistants, who examine and treat patients under the direct supervision of a physician.
Some common tasks include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, and assisting physicians during examinations. Medical assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens and sometimes perform basic laboratory tests and sterilize medical instruments.