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What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant

A Medical Assistant is an Allied Health Professional- an individual that assists the physician or doctor with their patients, and works alongside them to provide the patients with the highest level of care. Medical assistants complete both administrative and clinical tasks, and act as a patient coordinator by providing a means of communication between patients, doctors and other health care providers. Working in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities, Medical Assistants play a vital role in the healthcare field. But what exactly does a Medical Assistant do? Here we provide a glimpse inside the busy workday of Medical Assistant.

A Medical Assistant’s day usually starts early. Most doctor’s offices open at 8 am, and some offer appointments even earlier. When the Medical Assistant arrives at the office the first thing they usually do is log into the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, and then check phone messages and emails for any important messages for the day. Then the Medical Assistant organizes the charts and fills out any paperwork needed for the day, such as surgical permission forms, health check forms and insurance paperwork. The Medical Assistant then reviews the patient schedule for the day, and prepares the exam rooms for the first appointments.

Once patients begin to arrive for scheduled appointments, the Medical Assistant must work efficiently to keep things flowing smoothly. Administrative Medical Assistants check patients in for their appointment, verify patient information and health insurance and help the patient fill out any appropriate forms. Then, the Clinical Medical Assistant greets the patient and takes him or her to an exam room. This Medical Assistant takes the patient’s vital signs, performs a patient interview, and prepares the patient for any scheduled procedures. The Medical Assistant may be responsible for conducting routine tasks and procedures such as measuring patients’ vital signs, administering medications and injections, recording information in medical recordkeeping systems, preparing and handling medical instruments and supplies, and collecting and preparing specimens of bodily fluids and tissues for laboratory testing.

At most medical offices appointments are booked 15 minutes apart, so the Medical Assistant is constantly busy. If there is time in between patients, Medical Assistants might answer phone calls or update patient charts. The Medical Assistant might log into the electronic health portal, which is a private website where patients and care providers correspond via email, share and explain test results, schedule and follow up on appointments, send necessary forms, and so on. Medical Assistants also have to make sure to get consent forms before each procedure. Sometimes Medical Assistants need to call other doctors’ offices to get reports on patients.

After every patient visit, Medical Assistants clean the exam room by wiping everything down, putting everything away, and bringing specimens down to the lab. If there’s an urgent lab sample, the Medical Assistant must make sure it gets down to the lab in a timely fashion, and check to make sure the results come in quickly. Results such as those usually come directly through to the office’s printer or EMR system, and it’s the Medical Assistant’s responsibility to make sure those results go straight to the patient’s medical provider, so the provider can relay those results to the patient.

Medical Assistants also handle prescription refills through the pharmacy. The Medical Assistant must fax them out and verify that the pharmacy received them. The Medical Assistant must also ensure the practice is following the rules about certain types of medications – narcotic prescriptions, for example, cannot be faxed but instead must be picked up in hardcopy – so the Medical Assistant makes sure the office is in compliance with rules like those. Some patients also have to get drug testing if they’re on narcotics, to make sure they’re taking the prescribed medication and dose, so the Medical Assistants handles that too.

At the end of each day, the Medical Assistant helps to clean all procedure rooms and sterilize all the tools that were used that day. The Medical Assistant helps stock all the rooms with the necessary gowns, cleaning products, specimen jars, OBGYN equipment, and all the other items necessary for the next day. In a career as fast-paced as this one, good organization skills, patience, stamina and a love for the job are all beneficial qualities.

If you think that the world of Medical Assisting might be right for you, then you should consider getting your training and certification from an accredited, industry-recognized institution such as IBT. The Institute for Business and Technology (IBT) is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and provides hands-on training from industry professionals. IBT’s program prepares students for the Medical Assistant National Certification from the NCCT. Call IBT at 1(800)915-3562 to speak to one of our friendly Admissions Representatives, or schedule a visit to IBT’s large, modern campus in beautiful Santa Clara, CA. At IBT, we want to help you make your career dreams come true!