It’s impossible to make an informed career decision if you don’t fully understand the tasks and responsibilities of the job you’d like to pursue. Clinical medical assistants help physicians, both inside and outside the exam room.
The Scope of Practice
The “scope of practice” refers to the extent of medical techniques and procedures that clinical medical assistants are legally allowed to perform. In the United States, a medical assistant’s scope of practice varies between states. Some states may allow medical assistants with the proper training to do a wide variety of skilled procedures, while others limit the clinical assistant’s role. Some of the usual clinical tasks that medical assistants perform are: (CA.gov)
- Blood withdrawals
- Administering medicine by inhalation
- Administering medications in pill form
- Nasal smears
- Finger sticks
- Taking vital signs and blood pressure
- Narcotic injections
- Calling in refills to a pharmacy
- Administering hearing tests
As you can see, the range of clinical procedures that a trained medical assistant can perform is rather wide. Most of the routine procedures that you’ve experienced at the doctor’s office before seeing the physician can be performed by a medical assistant.
Medical assistants always work under the supervision of a medical doctor, and they must be comfortable being directed by the supervising physician. Most work regular 40 hour work weeks, although some work part-time, evenings, or weekends. Some may have to be on call when they are not at work, and be able to come in at a moment’s notice, should the physician need them. (BLS)
Clinical medical assistants who are also willing to perform administrative tasks will have the best job opportunities in the coming years. These multi-skilled assistants are able to be a jack of all trades at smaller medical offices where a large support staff isn’t necessary. Some routine administrative duties that a medical assistant might perform include:
- Answering phones
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Maintaining patient medical records
- Coding in medical diagnoses
- Transcribing medical charts or documents
- Dealing with the office’s mail, correspondence, and bookkeeping
As you can see, medical assistants must be able to remain flexible and perform the task that needs to be done, whether it be a skilled medical procedure or simply answering the ringing office telephone. (AAMA)
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