There is more to a patient’s medical care than just the doctor. There’s also the clinical medical assistant. While often overlooked, the medical assistant is a vital part of virtually every aspect of patient care.
A clinic medical assistant has many duties in a health care facility, both administrative and medical. Medical assistants help with record-keeping, lab tests, medication administration, and everything else needed to provide patients with quality health care.
Because of the interaction with physician and patient, the role is key in the facility. The assistant handles the details in the exam room that keep appointments running smoothly.
It’s not a career for everyone, but it is a growing field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of medical assistant positions could rise by 29 percent from 2012 to 2022. With an aging Baby Boomer population, and the emergence of many new technologies, there is a high demand for trained professionals in the field.
What Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants keep doctors offices, clinics, and other health care facilities running smoothly. They perform administrative tasks, along with clinic duties, that ensure the physician can focus on the patient and provide the necessary care.
The duties of a medical assistant vary depending on the specifics of the office, such as the location, the size, and the specialty of the practice. Medical assistants often have both administrative and clinical duties to perform, and they report to an office manager, the physician, or a department head, depending on the size of the facility.
Since medical assistants often work front desk or the check-out desk, administrative duties involve working with medical records, filling out insurance forms, scheduling appointments and working with hospital admission. Other duties often include the handling of lab services, billing and other correspondence.
Medical duties are what separate the clinical medical assistant from a general assistant. Often, the clinical assistant will prepare exam rooms and insure that medical supplies are in stock. The assistant also has a lot of direct contact with the patient to prepare the patient for the visit. They’ll speak with the patient and record their medical history. Often, the clinical medical assistant will also aid the physician during the exam.
Clinical medical assistants, under doctor supervision, often work hands-on with patients. These tasks range include administering medications, cleaning and dressing wounds, removing sutures, taking blood samples and more.
What They Need to Know
In the business world, administrative assistants often don’t need much education and training beyond a high school diploma and on-the-job experience. While there are no formal educational requirements for administrative medical assistants, most doctors offices, clinics, and other facilities prefer the candidate be educated in the field and have certification.
The clinical medical assistant must have specialized skills in order to succeed in the field. They must know medical terminology. They need training in the use of clinical tools and technology. Some of these clinical tools include a stethoscope, a sterilizer, machines like the EEG and EKG, and other lab equipment.
In order to gain this knowledge and skill set, these candidates take part in a program at a vocational school or community college. A medical assistant program can last between one and two years. During the program, subjects taught include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, medical technology, medical law and ethics.
It’s key for those interested in becoming a clinical medical assistant to take part in an accredited program. The two accreditation bodies recognized in the field are the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education School (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Schools (CAAHEP). Programs that are accredited through one of these organizations include real-world experience in a health care setting.
Potential medical assistants must attend an accredited program in order to become certified. Achieving certification shows those in the health care field that the person is qualified for the position and has the proper skillset. Medical assistants must be recertified every 60 months for the CMA.
Who They Need to Be
The role of clinical medical assistant is not for everyone. Only those with special qualities will succeed in the field. While this is true of all medical assistants, it’s especially true on the clinical side.
Clinical medical assistants are in the exam room with the physician and the patient, assisting as needed with exams and procedures. They work with people who are sick, and may be upset or possibly even dying. A medical assistant must be compassionate, yet also able to maintain a professional distance. Otherwise, the assistant could become overwhelmed by the feelings and emotions displayed in the exam room.
Because the clinical medical assistant works with both the physician and the patient, excellent communication skills are vital. The assistant must be able to hear, understand and share complicated instructions quickly and accurately.
The clinical medical assistant plays a key role in patient care. He or she needs to be organized, knowledgeable, and skilled in order to ensure the success of the facility and the patient care. A career as a medical assistant can be interesting, fun and personally rewarding.