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The Duties of a Medical Assistant and Where to Learn Them

February 22, 2009 0 Comments

As the population rapidly grows and ages, there is an increased need for healthcare workers. There are a growing number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities in need of medical assistants who have completed comprehensive medical assistant programs.

Medical assistants help keep the offices of physicians, chiropractors, and other medical professionals' offices running smoothly by handling a range of duties. In small practices, medical assistants may handle both administrative and clinical duties. In some environments, it’s not unusual to see a medical assistant behind the reception desk answering phones one day, and in the lab drawing blood the next. In larger offices, they may work in one particular area.

But no matter where medical assistants end up, there are medical assistant programs available that offer quality training to help prepare students for the various duties and important responsibilities that await them in the working world.

Medical assistants who perform administrative tasks usually handle the following, all of which can be learned through medical assistant courses:

  • Updating patient medical records
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
  • Answering telephones
  • Greeting patients
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Handling correspondence
  • Billing

In the case of medical assistants who handle clinical duties, specific tasks vary by state law, but students can also train for these tasks through medical assistant classes and medical assistant courses. These duties may include:

  • Taking medical histories
  • Checking vital signs
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Assisting physicians during examinations
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Sterilizing medical equipment
  • Properly disposing of contaminated supplies
  • Instructing patients about medications and special diets
  • Drawing blood
  • Changing dressings

Medical Assistant Training
Some medical assistants receive hands-on training, but others train in medical assistant programs. These medical assistant courses provide students with the hands-on training that healthcare providers are looking for and the classroom knowledge that will help professionals throughout their careers. Medical assistant courses are post secondary schools like Sanford-Brown College. These medical assistant courses are usually less expensive than traditional 4-year colleges and allow emerging professionals the chance to complete a medical assistant program typically much faster.

Medical Assistant Programs
Individuals interested in completing a medical assistant program can do so in one of a few different environments. Vocational-technical high schools, postsecondary schools, and community and junior colleges all offer medical assistant courses. Medical assistant classes generally cover anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, typing, recordkeeping, transcription, accounting, and insurance processing. Medical assistant courses may also include medical practice, medical law and ethics, and medical communications. Medical assistant programs often involve externships that train professionals in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare settings.

Job prospects for both clinical and administrative medical assistants are excellent; in fact, employment for medical assistants is projected to grow faster than average, ranking medical assistants as one of the fasted growing projected occupations between 2006 and 2016. Source: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos164.htm#outlook. Medical assistants are predicted to make up a large portion of new jobs, and other opportunities for professionals trained in medical assistant programs will open up as workers leave the occupation. For all these reasons, a medical assistant education is extremely valuable.

Sanford-Brown College - Cleveland is close to many locations:
Elyria, OH - approximately 22.3 miles
Lakewood, OH - approximately 8.7 miles
Medina, OH - approximately 20.8 miles
Strongsville, OH - approximately 4.8 miles

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Medical Assistants, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos164.htm (visited January 13, 2009).

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