In this article, we will help you better understand the day to day responsibilities of a medical assistant. The job of a MA is tough, because you need to be well versed and trained to do both administrative and clinical work. But it’s also a job where you get to interact with patients and help make their day a bit more comfortable and easy-going. So, as a MA, you have to wear a bunch of different “hats,” and because of that, this article will address what you can expect once you’re hired.
What Do Medical Assistants Do?
If you’re strongly considering becoming a medical assistant, than it’s really only natural for you to wonder what a medical assistant does on a daily basis.
Now, the duties of a medical assistant can shift slightly depending on the practitioner and his or her specialty. For example, a medical assistant in a podiatrist’s office may have you assist with certain tasks that are specific to a patient’s feet, while an MA in a dermatologist’s office will be asked to assist in helping a patient with a skin question or problem.
With that said, there are very general things that you can expect to do once you’re on the job as a medical assistant.
For example, when you visit job ads put up by employers looking for medical assistants, many of the details in the “description” or “qualification” section showcase exactly what you will be asked to do every single day.
The tasks of a MA can essentially be broken down in two categories: administrative and clinical.
Daily Medical Assistant Responsibilities
The administrative tasks for a medical assistant are the following:
- You will need to answer phones.
- You may be asked to call patients regarding their appointments.
- You may be asked to contact insurance companies by phone, as well.
- Update a patient’s medical history.
- Document said history in Electronic Health Record, provided you are a certified medical assistant. In some circles, people may use Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) interchangeably.
- You may be asked to order supplies for the office.
- You will have to arrange laboratory services and also do coding and fill out forms.
Some clinical tasks that medical assistants may be asked to perform are the following:
- Draw blood
- Perform basic lab tests
- Take EKG’s
- Remove sutures
- Change dressings
- Prepare and administer medications to patients as instructed by the physician.
These, of course, are just a few examples of the everyday tasks of a medical assistant.
How does Electronic Health Record work?
Understanding what EHR is and why it affects what a medical assistant is allowed to do is very important, because it can severely impact the choice in the school you decide to attend.
On its most basic level, the Electronic Health Record is a digital version of a patient’s health record. These records have traditionally always been kept in paper form, filed away inside drawers and large cabinets in offices.
But with the world becoming more digital, so are patient’s records. But they also provide great value because they can be shared with healthcare providers and organizations that might be directly involved in the care of a specific patient.
So what makes the Electronic Health Record so important, as it pertains to medical assistants?
Is there anything a medical assistant can’t do?
Yes, there are some things that medical assistants can’t do, namely any task that is literally beyond their scope of practice and education.
With that said, depending on what employer and what state you work in, there may be times where simple duties you thought you were allowed to perform will no longer be allowed.
Also, State Boards of Medical Examiners across the country continually review laws that determine what a medical assistant can and cannot do.
For example, in Nevada, medical assistants are allowed to give all shots. That means that whether you are giving a patient a flu shot or a Botox injection, you are allowed to perform that clinical task as a MA.
That wasn’t the case before the Nevada State of Medical Examiners determined that state laws specifically allow this.
That was a major decision specifically for things flu shots, because at the time that this was being reviewed, pediatricians and other doctors worried they wouldn’t be able to provide patients with the flu vaccination given the public’s massive demand for it come winter.
At the time, medical assistants providing patients with any kind of injections was totally up in the air. While MA’s had been providing shots to patients up until the Nevada State of Medical Examiners began to look at it more closely, it fell under scrutiny because some believed that, based on state law, medical assistants may have been illegally injecting patients with Botox and other cosmetic injections.
And because of that, there was a risk that medical assistants would no longer be allowed to provide patients with any injections at all, most notably the flu shot.
So, are there some duties, specifically clinical duties that medical assistants cannot perform? Yes, but in a lot of cases, it usually comes down to a decision by the state or, on a smaller scale, a decision made by one’s employer.
If you need more help, we recommend you read our article about the duties of a medical assistant. It should provide even more insight.
And of course, for additional details about medical assistant programs, certification and jobs, please return to our website often as we are constantly updating it to better serve you.