Career Profile: Medical Assistant

Career Profile Medical Assistant

Medical Assistants (MA) are an important member of a patient-centered team consisting of physicians, nurses and other health professionals. Nearly 85 percent of MAs work in a physician’s office performing a mix of administrative and clinical tasks. MAs also work in hospitals, home care and hospice care. Their administrative responsibilities include patient reception and admission, scheduling, answering phones, collecting health histories, filing insurance claims and managing patient flow through the office. MAs are likely the first and last faces a patient sees during a visit to their doctor. They will also spend time with patients to ensure they understand the doctor’s instructions. Their clinical responsibilities include explaining treatments to patients, drawing and preparing samples for testing, administering injections, removing sutures, checking vital signs, and in some practices, taking X-rays. Very importantly, as an MA, you will be responsible for placing your patients at ease.

The ideal MA candidate is empathetic, a strong listener and oral communicator, calm under stress, detailed and organized. A certain level of manual dexterity is also important.

Most MAs work full-time days although some work evenings, nights and weekends. The work environment is typically fast-paced, highly professional, compassionate and team oriented.

How will you feel as an MA?

The gratitude and respect you receive from patients will be quite satisfying. Patients will rely upon you to get them through anxious and occasionally very difficult moments, and their appreciation will be heart-felt and obvious. In some settings such as hospice and home care, you will become integral to your patients’ lives, nearly becoming a family member.  Also, as a respected member of a team, you’ll enjoy celebrating patient success with like-minded professionals that value your contributions. Many of your most precious memories will come from your work as an MA.

Medical assisting is ranked 71st among U.S. News and World Reports 100 Best Jobs.
Medical assisting is a fast-growing profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in medical assistant employment of 23 percent between 2014 and 2024 which equates to 138,900 new jobs. This growth is much faster than average job growth.

What is the career path for MAs?

Many MAs continue their education progressing to higher levels of certification such as Certified Medical Assistant or Registered Medical Assistant. Supervisory positions in institutional settings might require an Associate’s Degree. MAs also progress into administrative positions in businesses that support physician practices. Having earned at least an associate’s degree, many MAs become medical assistant educators.