That is a completely fair and reasonable question, especially, if you are considering a career in the medical assisting field. Medical assistants work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics and other healthcare facilities. They work closely with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to ensure quality patient care is given and accurate records are kept. Duties vary depending on the environment and whether or not you are working in on the administrative side or the clinical side. Both paths can be an exciting and rewarding career path, so let’s take an objective look at the differences between administrative medical assisting and clinical medical assisting.
Medical Assisting – Administrative Support
In this role, the medical assistant specializes in the administrative side of the medical organization they are a part of. Their duties might include recording patient information, filling out and filing forms, maintaining patient medical and billing records, setting appointments, ordering supplies and other clerical duties as assigned by a doctor, a nurse or a medical office manager. With the increasing trend of medical facilities migrating towards Electronic Health Record Systems (EHRs), the value of a medical assistant who specializes in administrative support and can assist doctors and health facilities maintain and update these records efficiently, will be significantly higher than someone without that ability.
Medical Assisting – Clinical Support
The medical assistant that specializes in clinical support might have duties assigned that involve taking patient history, taking patient vital signs, assisting the doctor with medical exams, administer injections as directed by a doctor and preparing blood (and other) samples for lab work. In some cases medical assistants that specialize in clinical support also perform basic lab tests, sterilize medical instruments and provide patients information about medicines or dietary restrictions. They may even perform some basic patient care procedures such as preparing a patient for X-Rays, drawing blood or changing bandage dressings on wounds.
Best of BOTH worlds!
In smaller doctor offices and medical facilities, a medical assistant may actually work on both sides of the profession, getting a chance to get exposure to the administrative side as well as the clinical (patient care) side. For some, this is ideal and provides a level of variety in the day-to-day operation that keeps them excited and motivated to come to work. For others, specializing in one or the other world makes sense because it allows them to learn everything they can about a particular aspect of the medical profession. Medical assistants who get to specialize in administrative or clinical support generally work in larger healthcare organizations such as large clinics or hospitals.
Although not required to become a medical assistant, some employers may prefer that you attend a formal training program or accredited school or even earn a nationally recognized certification (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – How to become a medical assistant webpage). Graduating from an accredited program provides potential employers a solid credential to review that demonstrates your ability to “hit the ground running” with little or no additional on the job training required.
For more information about a career in the medical assisting field, or to speak with an admissions representative and apply for career training, contact Centura College today by visiting our Medical Assisting Career Training Webpage. You can also learn more about Centura College at our Consumer Information Disclosure page, Your right to know.
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SOURCES: [tabs slidertype=”simple”] [tab]Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor/Occupational Outlook Handbook – from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm (visited 11/6/2013)[/tab] [/tabs]
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