Duties of a Medical Assistant

Those who wish to become a medical assistant must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma. They should be able to communicate well so that they can explain the reasons and purpose of upcoming medical exams and procedures to patients under the doctor’s care. To become familiar with all required registration, referral and consent forms it requires special training. As with anything, the more the medical assistant knows, the more he or she is able to excel and serve patients and the employer. Primary duties involve skilled medical office procedures and established routines, such as rooming
patients, taking vital signs, preparing patients to be seen by the doctor, explaining upcoming medical and diagnostic procedures and keeping things organized, safe and clean. A higher degree of awareness is necessary when the duties are mostly clinical, rather than administrative, since more harm can be done when infection control measures are disregarded and direct patient care procedures aren’t properly carried out.



If a patient calls in sick, or a mother has a sick child the administrative medical assistant will pull their chart and fit them into the doctor’s schedule to be seen that day. When the patient arrives the administrative medical assistant will verify all demographics and insurance coverage and lets the clinical medical assistant know they are waiting to be seen. If blood, or other specimens need to be collected, the clinical medical assistant will take care of that in a designated back office area for privacy. If a patient needs to wear a gown for the exam the clinical medical assistant will show how to wear it and help the
patient to be positioned on the examination table. If certain areas need to be draped, the medical assistant also takes care of this, while also setting up instruments that may be needed.


Nevertheless entering incorrect patient demographics, or medical histories into the medical chart can be just as detrimental as clinical errors. Medical assistants and their supervisors must be vigilant, engaged, alert and well informed.  Administrative medical assistants in a large group practice often have to provide services to all patients that come and go, whereas the clinical medical assistant in the back only takes care of the patients that belong to the doctor he/she is directly working under for that day. Typical duties of the administrative medical assistant include welcoming and checking in patients, new patient registration, financial and consent form completion, health insurance verification and maintaining appointment schedules, this includes entering patient data and demographics into computer databases, typing correspondences and medical transcripts, calling patients with appointment reminders, route incoming phone calls and messages, call the pharmacy for prescription order refills and arrange for patient hospital admissions as ordered by the doctor.


Medical assistants in orthopedics, dental office, chiropractic, or physical therapy locations often are directly involved in operating x-ray devices, and developing radiological images, which in many cases requires a limited x-ray license depending on governing state laws. They are expected to be familiar with computers, databases and data retrieval and input devices that directly link to a central database to upload pertinent patient information into a central unit. They remain with a patient that has just received any form of medication, undergone allergy testing, is acutely ill, has seizures, pain, bleeding, or fainted to observe, monitor and minimize trauma to the patient, charts these incidents in the patient’s medicalrecord, takes the patient’s vital signs, prepares and positions them for their exams, sets up instrument ttrays, adjusts and operates therapeutic devices, assists during exams, maintains equipment, logs results, answers phones, calls in prescription orders to the pharmacy and administers medications as ordered by the doctor, all part of the daily routine. Often these positions with such highly skilled duties and expectations also come with higher wages and better over-all benerits and compensation.
ECG/EKG Specialization

Focusing on ECG/EKG is ideal for medical assistants with special interest in the cardiovascular system. They  understand the mechanism of the heart and circulatory system and the bio metabolism of heart medications such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, Calcium channel blockers as well as cardiac glycosides so that they can correlate the different heart medications to specific cardiac rhythms. Those with ECG/EKG certifications may get jobs as telemetry technicians with a cardiology specialty medical practice, ambulatory emergency clinic, or hospital Intensive care ICU, CCU, emergency and medical-surgical floors, and even home care. Typically, they set up ECG monitoring devices and with enough experience may recognize abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, premature ventricular and atrial contractions, and type I, II and III heart blocks.



We often are asked whether a medical assistant is allowed to administer injections. The answer, generally is yes, if the medical assistant has been properly instructed and the skill has been thoroughly taught and adequately assessed. An injection (often referred to as a “shot” in US English) is an infusion method of putting fluid into the body, usually with a hollow needle, called hypodermic needle, and a syringe which is pierced through the skin to a sufficient depth for the medication to be brought into the body. To do this properly it requires knowledge, practice and adequate dexterity.  Medical assistants are
allowed to give intradermal, subcutaneous and intramuscular injections, but NEVER inject intravenously. In an intradermal, or subcutaneous injection the medication is placed right into or right below the skin, in an intramuscular injection the medication is delivered directly into a muscle. Many vaccines are administered intramuscularly, and this is probably where medical assistants are utilized the most. They also can give vitamin B-12 and allergy injections IF SO TRAINED and directly supervised by the physician. Part of the process is also to ensure the availability of equipment and supplies, managing
waste safely, documenting the procedure in the medical record, and montitoring and charting any
adverse reactions