The Job Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Medical assistant typing on a computer

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Medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical tasks in a medical setting. Medical ​assistants usually work in physicians or the offices of other medical professionals. Work duties may vary based on the physician's specialty, location, and size.

Medical assistant job responsibilities may include the following:

  • Administrative: answering telephones, greeting patients, scheduling appointments, entering and updating patient record information, and arranging for hospital and laboratory testing for patients.
  • Clinical: collecting laboratory specimens, preparing patients for exams, taking and recording vital signs, assisting physicians in minor office procedures, submitting prescriptions to the pharmacy, and keeping waiting and exam rooms neat and clean.
  • Other: medical assistants may also perform tasks for optometrists, podiatrists, dentists, and other specialists.

Salary Expectations

The salary for a Medical Assistant varies based on a number of factors. The biggest factor is the type of facility or organization. Medical Assistants may work in one of the following capacities:

  • Hospitals
  • Physician Offices
  • Outpatient Centers
  • Home Health Services
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities

The next factor that impacts salary is the level of responsibility which often correlates to the job title.

According to, the median salaries for Medical Assistants for the following job titles as of 2016 are:

  • Medical Assistant: $33,205
  • Pharmacy Service Clerk: $25,412
  • Medical Records Clerk: $31,540
  • Medical Secretary: $37,690

Salary amounts vary based on years of experience, education, and job location.

In addition to the occupations listed above, here are some other jobs that perform similar tasks to Medical Assistants.

  • Medical Transcriptionists
  • Dental Assistants
  • Nursing Aides
  • Therapist Assistants
  • Surgical Technicians
  • Radiology Technicians

Position Requirements

Most Medical Assistants are trained on the job, but there are many programs that provide an associate degree, diploma or certification. Those that are interested in pursuing a career as a Medical Assistant can sometimes gain experience by volunteering for any healthcare facility. Volunteering provides an opportunity to learn from others and gain valuable experience while contributing to your community. It also allows you to decide if this is really what you want to do.

Although certification is not required for a career as a Medical Assistant, it does indicate to employers that a potential candidate has certain knowledge pertinent to the position which may lead to higher salary and increased responsibility. With experience, the position could lead to advancement opportunities such as a Medical Office Manager.

Working in the Medical Office

Anyone interested in a position as a Medical Assistant should exhibit some or all of the knowledge, skills, and abilities in the areas of:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Office Practices
  • Computer Skills
  • Transcription
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Administration of medication
  • Customer service

Other sources of information can be obtained from professional associations for Medical Assistants

  • American Association of Medical Assistants
  • American Medical Technologists

The Importance of Front-Line Medical Office Staff

As everyone knows, first impressions are lasting ones. The first impressions your customers receive about your medical practice are often from your office staff making them crucial to the success of your organization. It is helpful to know what skills are important for each position when hiring your medical office staff.

Customers of a medical office are not typical customers. They are patients that expect the highest quality of care and some may be in the midst of a medical crisis that requires delicate handling. Not only is it important for the staff to have certain professional skills and strengths, but it is also imperative that they understand that patient lives are reliant on the quality of their work.

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