medical assistant schools

Medical Assistant Skills & Duties

Think you’re ready to pursue a career as a medical assistant?

First, you’ll need to know what medical assistant duties and skills are essential for this challenging and often highly-rewarding vocation. Depending on your employer, each day may be different – that’s what many people love about this career choice. But you can expect to find many of the same duties and skill requirements in almost any medical assisting position.

Medical assistant skills and abilities

Medical assistants are versatile professionals called on to perform tasks ranging from drawing blood and checking vital signs to managing patient records and setting appointments – and everything in between. As a medical assistant, you may perform primarily office tasks, mostly clinical tasks, or a mixture of both. That means the skills of a medical assistant are incredibly numerous and varied! Here are a few of the most common skills:

  • Good communication skills. Medical assistants must be active listeners in order to understand and accurately record patient issues and specifications. They must also be capable of clearly articulating instructions to the patient and effectively communicating information, both written and spoken, to other health care professionals working with the patient.
  • Organizational and clerical skills. Most medical assistants have at least some office duties, from answering the phones and scheduling appointments to maintaining patient files. Being highly-organized is critical, and clerical skills like typing and filing are helpful.
  • Medical knowledge. Medical assistants should have a good working knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and basic procedures like drawing blood or dressing a wound. Knowledge of first aid and CPR may also be required.
  • Knowledge of safety and sanitation. Medical assistants should be aware of personal and patient safety at all times. Understanding and practicing safety and sanitation protocols is essential.
  • Computer skills. Being comfortable with using computers is necessary for a variety of administrative tasks. Especially as many health care practices are adopting EHRs (Electronic Health Records), computer competency is one of the most important medical assistant skills.
  • Customer service skills. Remember, patients are customers who select their practitioners based on quality of care and service received. Treating patients with sensitivity and respect is essential.  

Medical assistant duties

The day-to-day tasks of a medical assistant may be enormously varied. In larger offices, medical assistants may specialize in clinical or administrative areas, but in a smaller office, one or two assistants may do it all! Here are some of the most common duties to expect:

  • Clinical duties: take vital signs; collect patient medical history and information; prepare and clean treatment rooms; prepare and administer medications under the supervision of a physician; collect and log laboratory specimens such as blood samples; instruct and educate physicians on good health practices as directed by the attending physician; properly dispose of waste and contaminated materials; sterilize instruments; conduct routine lab tests
  • Administrative duties: answer phones; schedule patient appointments; follow up with patients regarding questions or test results; log patient information; create and manage patient records; utilize EHR software to manage patient files electronically; track and order supplies; provide prescription information and refill authorization to pharmacies

If you’re looking for a career track that lets you perform a variety of skilled tasks in a fast-paced work environment, medical assisting might be the job for you. Understanding the abilities you’ll need to complete your duties is a great first step towards becoming a knowledgeable and experienced medical assistant.

Day in the life of a medical assistant

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Ultimate Medical Academy
A.S. Health Sciences - Medical Administrative Assistant
As a UMA student in this online program, you’ll learn how to keep the healthcare system moving forward. That includes learning how to greet patients and get them checked in, schedule appointments, assist with patient insurance claims, perform medical coding and more.
PENN FOSTER
Medical Assistant Career Diploma
Offered through Penn Foster College, the self-paced Medical Assistant diploma program can help you prepare to take the next steps toward becoming a skilled medical assistant. Geared toward students who don’t want or need to earn an associate’s degree, the course will cover 41 lessons, as well as a 160-hour externship for hands-on experience.
Purdue University Global
Medical Office Administration Certificate
Purdue Global’s online medical office administration program is designed to equip you with the knowledge and technical skills necessary to pursue entry-level positions in this exciting field. Coursework focuses on areas including insurance processing and fundamental medical office administrative and clerical tasks.
Grantham University
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Admin Assistant
The Medical Administrative Assistant (AAS-MAA) associate program provides a solid foundation in basic medical office functions, teaching you the skills needed for providing administrative support to healthcare professionals. This program can also serve as a step toward a more advanced degree in healthcare. Upon completion of the program, students may sit for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) exam, an entry-level medical assistance industry certification from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Independence University
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting
The Medical Assisting AOS degree program is designed to provide the students the knowledge and clinical skills for gaining entry-level employment in a medical facility in both administrative and clinical areas. Specific training is provided in preparing instruments and materials, vital signs, phlebotomy, medication preparation and administration, clinical documentation and assisting the physician with exams and procedures. Training in computer and administrative skills is also provided as they pertain to electronic health records and medical office procedures. The student will be able to function independently with administrative duties as well as clinical duties and computer functions of the office.