What’s Included in the Medical Assistant Job Description (and What’s Not)
It’s always been important to you to help others and make them feel welcome, even if your hospitality style is generally more behind the scenes. At the same time, you’re a stickler for details, schedules, organization and planning.
If you’re both a people person and a devotee to planning and orderliness, a career as a medical assistant (MA) may be the right fit for you. Working in a medical profession can be both rewarding and satisfying, and the world needs more of you efficient, loving individuals.
“We are the part of the team that makes everything run efficiently and smoothly,” says Natasha Quinn, senior medical assistant at Community Health Center Inc. “We can be sure that the patients are getting the best care during their visit thanks to the communication between our teams and the knowledge that we have as MAs.”
Before you jump in, it’s important to know what all is involved in a MA career. You can learn a lot by scanning through a medical assistant job description. But that’s only scratching the surface of what these professionals really do. Keep reading for all the facts on what you’ll find in the job description, as well as some insider insight you won’t find.
What does a medical assistant do?
Medical assistants have a hand in a little bit of everything in the medical office. From clinical work to administrative duties, they are both the face of patient care and the ones who record vital information. You can generally find medical assistants welcoming patients, recording their history, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, or scheduling patient appointments.
Medical facilities need MAs, so it should be no surprise there’s a fair amount of versatility in where a medical assistant can work. Don’t assume a medical assistant’s only option is working in a clinic—from hospitals to physician’s offices to other healthcare facilities, such as an optometrist’s or podiatrist’s office, MAs can find their workplace homes in many locations with many different types of patients.
What does a typical day look like for a medical assistant?
A career as a medical assistant offers a variety of daily job duties depending on the type of work you’re drawn to. Administrative medical assistants typically spend most of their time answering the phone, scheduling appointments and helping patients fill out insurance forms. Clinical medical assistants are more hands-on with medical procedures and may do basic laboratory tests, sterilize medical instruments, instruct patients on specialized diets, remove stitches and prepare patients for X-rays.
Depending on where you work, a typical day can look different for different types of medical assistants. If you work with an optometrist, you may spend time helping patients understand eye care, and you may show a patient how to insert, remove and care for contact lenses.
If you’re a medical assistant working with a podiatrist (a foot doctor), you may be making castings of feet, expose and develop X-rays or assist a podiatrist during surgery. Whether you’re at the front desk or in the physician’s office working with a patient, a day in the life of an MA varies from career to career.
“Healthcare is like a journey in a patient’s life: everyone has a role,” says Maribel Acevedo, a medical assistant at Community Health Center Inc. Acevedo compares medical assistants to the anchor on a ship, keeping the medical practice steady alongside other healthcare team members.
“The medical assistant plays a huge role in healthcare. Without us, it would be tough to run a steady ship,” Acevedo says.
What does it take to become a medical assistant?
Education & training
In most states, there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant, but employers may favor hiring an MA who’s completed a postsecondary educational program as opposed to someone with no education.
Community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools and universities generally provide programs for medical assisting that typically take about one year to complete and lead to a certificate or diploma.
Important skills & characteristics
We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 102,000 MA job postings from the past 12 months.1 The data helped us identify the in-demand skills employers are seeking in their MAs. The top skills employers are looking for in a medical assistants include:
- Patient care
- Vital skills measurement
- Appointment setting
- Medical assistance
Cultivate a steady hand, excellent patient care skills and an eye for detail and organization if you want your medical assistant resume to stand out from the crowd.
What is the salary and job outlook for a medical assistant?
If you’re looking to get started as a medical assistant, it’s only natural to be curious about the pay—something you may not find in a job posting. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics can help shed some light on that: The median annual salary for a medical assistant in 2016 was $31,540, according to the BLS.2
Salary information is great to know, but are medical assisting jobs in-demand? The short answer is yes. Employment for medical assistants is projected to increase by 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the national average. The aging baby boomer population is currently increasing the demand for medical professionals, so you can rest assured demand for these positions will remain strong in the near future.
Excited by a medical assisting career?
Now that you’ve gone beyond the typical medical assistant job description, you may be mulling over a career as a medical assistant! As a medical assistant, you’ll have the opportunity to care for people, while helping to keep a healthcare facility running smoothly—certainly a positive way to earn a living.
If you’re realizing medical assisting could be the right fit for you, learn more about the advantages in pursuing this career path by reading The Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant.
1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 102,567 medical assistant job postings, Jan. 01, 2016–Dec. 31, 2016).
2Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.