Medical Assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. They should not be confused with physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the direct supervision of a physician.
The duties of Medical Assistants vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner’s specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually are generalists, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators.
Clinical duties vary according to State law and include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for examination, and assisting the physician during the examination. Medical Assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens or perform basic laboratory tests on the premises, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. They instruct patients about medications and special diets, prepare and administer medications as directed by a physician, authorize drug refills as directed, telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy, draw blood, prepare patients for x rays, take electrocardiograms, remove sutures, and change dressings.
Medical Assistants also may arrange examining room instruments and equipment, purchase and maintain supplies and equipment, and keep waiting and examining rooms neat and clean.
The Medical Assistant program covers the basic knowledge and skills required to become an entry-level Medical Assistant including foundational courses in Anatomy and Physiology and Medical
The program prepares students for Medical Assistant positions that
are either clinical or administrative in nature. Students complete
coursework in clinical procedures such as phlebotomy, EKG and lab
procedures and in administrative areas such as medical office procedures. The program also contains a clinical externship which is completed in an outside medical facility. Upon completion, graduates will have the entry-level skills of a Medical Assistant and be qualified to interview for positions in a variety of healthcare facilities.