|Medical assistants are individuals who help a clinical office run smoothly. They are responsible for carrying out administrative tasks such as answering telephones and filing records, but also perform clinical duties such as taking medical histories and explaining treatments to patients. The ideal medical assistant has a strong willingness to learn, an ability to multitask, and an excellent eye for small details.
The exact clinical responsibilities and level of interaction with patients varies from state to state depending on local laws. Regardless of location, there are certain duties and responsibilities that all medical assistants have. Following are some examples of what you can expect to encounter in this field.
Duties and Responsibilities:
• Interview patients prior to a medical exam. This may involve taking a medical history, checking vital signs, and recording height and weight, depending on your state laws and regulations.
• Assist in medical tests, record results, and provide a report of these findings to the patient’s attending physician.
• Prepare medications and administer their use as directed by a physician. Catalog all medical prescriptions and maintain careful records about which medications are administered to which patients.
• Participate in patient medical exams, helping the physician as instructed.
• Give patients injections and/or oral medications as needed under the instruction and supervision of an attending physician.
• Schedule patient appointments and handle clinical calendars. Notify patients of their upcoming appointments and make any changes or cancellations that may come up.
• Take and prepare blood samples from patients. Label them properly, send them to the laboratory for testing, and maintain detailed records of the results.
• Maintain patient confidentiality at all times. Ensure that any personal information taken is properly secured and disposed of. Occasionally perform audits of the workplace to ensure that all security protocols are in place and active.
• Maintain electronic health records (EHRs) and manage migration of records from one facility to another as a patient’s care changes. This duty requires knowledge of computer databases and willingness to learn new technology as needed.
• Answer telephones and provide outside communication to patients, insurance companies, and occasionally sales representatives. Direct calls and incoming emails to the appropriate person.
• Properly dispose of medical waste and ensure compliance with all waste removal procedures. Provide written and verbal updates when policies change and ensure report noncompliance with medical waste policies as appropriate.
• Communicate with physical assistants, physical therapists, and clinical dieticians to come up with proper exercise and physical therapy plans to help patients recover from certain procedures. Once a plan is decided upon, communicate that plan to the patient and make sure the patient complies with all necessary aspects of recovery.
• Type medical reports, transcribe from dictation, and compose correspondences with patients and physicians in different offices. Serve as the primary point of communication contact for the medical office.
• Additional responsibilities as required by the specialty: For example, an optometric medical assistant will need to help show patients how to insert and remove contact lenses, while a podiatric medical assistant may be required to make foot casts and prepare patients for surgery.