Medical assistants perform a combination of administrative and clinical duties in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, medical offices, clinics and patient homes. Medical assistants work as patient liaisons, helping patients feel at ease and explaining physician instructions. They work alongside doctors or as part of a medical team, sometimes as members of Patient-Centered Medical Home Teams.
Administrative duties performed by medical assistants include operating computer applications, answering phones, greeting patients, updating and filing patient records, coding and filing insurance forms, scheduling appointments, arranging hospital admissions, and handling correspondence, billing and bookkeeping. Clinical duties performed by medical assistants include taking medical histories, explaining treatments and procedures, preparing patients for examinations, assisting physicians, performing lab tests, collecting lab specimens, instructing patients regarding medications and diets, administering medications, authorizing prescription refills and drawing blood.
Demand for medical assistants is growing rapidly as of 2014, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth arises from the surge in the number of physician offices, technological advances and the growing geriatric population. The American Association of Medical Assistants offers certification to medical assistants who have graduated from medical assistant programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Services.