Duties of a Medical Assistant – A Look at Administrative vs. Clinical Medical Assistant Roles

The duties of a medical assistant will vary depending on the office and the type of Medical Assistant you wish to become. Medical assistants often fill one of two roles. Either they perform an Administrative/Clerical role or they perform a clinical role. In a small physicians office one assistant might perform both jobs but typically you will be applying for one or the other when you start your medical assistant career. Each role has its own set of tasks and duties so it will be up to you to decide which works best for you.

Duties of a Administrative Medical Assistant

The duties of a medical assistant performing the Administrative/Clerical role will be more of an office assistant type position. Your job description will be to keep the office running smoothly and making sure the office gets paid by both individuals and insurance companies. People who choose to go this route must be good with patients, very well organized, good at bookkeeping, have good communication skills and a friendly demeanor as they will be the first person people deal with when they come to the office. A few typical administrative duties of a medical assistant in this role might be:

  • Greeting patients and logging them in as they arrive.
  • Talking to the patients to see what’s wrong with them and the reason for their visit.
  • Pulling the patients file so the physician has their past medical records, test results, and all important information they may need during their exam.
  • Perform bookkeeping tasks like keeping financial records, handling credit and collection, monthly mail sending of patients’ statements, and filing out insurance forms.
  • Schedule the patients for appointments.
  • Take an inventory and order the medical, laboratory, and office supplies and equipment.
  • Communicate with medical facilities or departments for patient referral or admission.
  • Give prescription information to pharmacies as well as authorize drug refills.
  • Convert Paper charts into digital records.
  • Answer phones.

Duties of a Clinical Medical Assistant

On the other hand, a clinical medical assistant performs tasks similar to those of a nurse. You will be working in the back room of a medical office. Your responsibilities would include keeping the exam rooms clean as well as prepping the patient to see the doctor and helping the doctor with whatever they need. You would still need to have a friendly attitude, be patient, and be able to work well with people. You would also have to be a cleanly person and be technical enough to operate some office equipment. The duties of a medical assistant in the clinical role might be:

  • Assist patients to laboratories or examination rooms.
  • Initial physical assessment by measuring vital signs, weight, height, and chief complaints.
  • Prepare patients before physicians perform examination or procedures.
  • Gather patients’ specimen for lab tests – urine, stool, blood, and others. Prepare them for testing.
  • Instruct patients before going through procedures, medications, diets, therapies, as per doctor’s order.
  • Aid doctors as they perform examination and treatment – assist in administering parenteral medications like injections, and handing over needed instruments during removal of suture or wound dressing.
  • Perform treatment room preparation and after care, to keep the clean and sanitized.
  • Handle instruments before and after they are used, by cleaning and sterilizing.
  • Dispose used supplies with contamination protocols.
  • Perform routine lab tests and sample analysis.

As you can see, a medical assistant needs to have a broad set of skills since they help keep a medical office run smoothly. Now that you understand the duties of a medical assistant, you can decide which you like better or fulfill both roles.

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