Medical Assistant Certification

What is a Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant is a vital commodity in any medical practice. They keep the offices of clinics, medical centers, and doctors running smoothly and efficiently. Each job requirement is different depending on the different needs of that employer, such as clerical, clinical, administrative, or even all three. Duties also vary due to office type, size of practice, and the location. Usually offices have all three, and sometimes four, types of medical assistants in the staff.

What does a Medical Assistant do?

As aforementioned, this depends on the duties assigned to that medical assistant. If it is a clerical medical assistant:

  • repetitive and routine duties essential for office
  • answer phones, schedule appointments, greet patients, sort mail
  • type letters for doctors
  • very similar to a clerical personnel in office settings

Administrative medical assistants:

  • more medical related tasks
  • submit medical claim forms
  • update patient files
  • schedule medical tests
  • arrange hospital admissions
  • billing and bookkeeping
  • general clerical duties

Clinical medical assistants:

  • depends on the laws of the state
  • more medical-related
  • patient prep for exams
  • medical histories
  • assisting physician during exams
  • explain medical procedures
  • order prescriptions
  • collect lab specimens
  • sterilize medical instruments
  • electrocardiograms
  • remove sutures
  • phlebotomy

Specialized medical assistants:

  • assigned a particular duty
  • optometrist assistants test eyes, explain contact lenses, basic assistance
  • Podiatrist assistants make castings and assist podiatrist during surgery
  • Medical lab assistants perform lab duties, including testing and documenting of specimens

What are the education requirements for a Medical Assistant?

Although there are no formal education and training requirements, many medical assistants take 1 or 2 year educational programs, but some are trained on the job. They usually have at least a high school diploma.

Many vocational schools are offered for medical assistants, which covers anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. This allows an overall strong foundation for a medical assistant, giving them more stature in an office. They should–but don’t have to–earn a certification from an association like the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or Association of Medical Technologists (AMT) to certify they have that strong foundation of knowledge. If you do pass the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Exam, then you are more likely to get employed.

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