Medical assistants (MA) perform a variety of duties. These duties vary from job to job. Their medical director assigns MA duties. A medical director is a physician under whom the medical assistants work. MA help the doctor’s office run efficiently. Typically, they work in both the front and back areas of the doctor’s office. Front office responsibilities include managing schedules, filing and answering phone lines. Responsibilities in the back area of the office include patient evaluation and keeping exam rooms ready for patients.
Initial patient assessments are a large part of the MA responsibilities.
- Assessments involve checking a patient’s vital signs, performing a physical exam and obtaining the patient’s medical history. Vital signs include blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate and temperature.
- The physical exam involves measuring height and weight, as well as looking for deformities or irregularities on the patient’s body.
- A medical assistant obtains a medical history by asking patients questions about their medical conditions, medications and allergies. The MA records any findings into the patient charts and alerts the physician of the results.
MA perform treatments ordered by the doctor. The treatment of injuries, wounds and a patient’s symptoms are among a MA‘s duties. Medical assistants administer medications. The doctor will tell the MA which medications to administer, as well as the medication’s dosage and route. MA typically administer medications by mouth or injection.
A doctor will tell the MA which tests to perform on each patient. A MA follows protocols that explain in detail how each test is to be performed. Protocols are typically written by the doctor. The MA tests equipment to assure it is functioning properly. Medical assistants are also responsible for collecting samples for laboratory testing. They draw blood when the doctor order’s blood work. Medical assistants process samples. They pack and ship samples to their appropriate destination.
Preparing patients is another duty performed by a MA.
- They get the patient ready for testing, treatment and procedures that the doctor may perform. Medical assistants expose any affected areas by removing bandages or clothing. When needed, they shave any necessary body parts.
- MA follow their protocols, which will explain in detail how and when to prepare the patient. For example, a MA will prepare a male cardiac patient for his EKG test by shaving areas in which the electrodes are placed to assure they stick properly to the skin. They would dry any moist skin where electrodes will be applied. The MA will apply the EKG electrodes, attach the lead wires and begin the test.
- Once the test is complete, the MA will print the collected data, remove the leads and electrodes from the patient and help the patient re-dress if assistance is necessary.
Preparing Exam Rooms
A medical assistant is responsible for preparing patient exam rooms to ensure they are ready for patients and doctors.
- They keep the exam rooms stocked with supplies needed to perform patient assessments, treatments, tests and procedures.
- They also make sure rooms have general equipment like gloves, patient gowns and exam table covers. They are responsible for keeping exam rooms clean and assuring everything in the exam room, including the exam table and all equipment, is clean and sanitized after each patient use. This helps reduce the spread of infections and ensures everything is ready for use on the next patient.
- When cleaning an exam room, the medical assistant is responsible for discarding all disposable items and placing non-disposable items in their appropriate location so they can be sanitized.
Patient education is part of a medical assistants job duties. They use their knowledge and skills to educate patients about their conditions. Medical assistants teach patients how to use certain types of medical equipment or devices needed by the patient. They provide demonstrations on how to perform tests such as blood glucose monitoring. Educating patients on their conditions, treatments and medications allow patients to live their lives to the best of their abilities. It may also help patients stay independent at their own home, reducing their need to be admitted into a healthcare facility.
Managing Patient Schedule
Managing the patient schedule is another MA duty. Medical assistants schedule patient appointments and keep track of the office schedule. A MA will schedule appointments in a way that best utilizes the time available. They schedule patients in a way that creates an efficient and manageable workload for those working in the office. They fill cancelled appointment and reschedule appointments when needed.
Front office duties for a MA include clerical duties such as filing and answering phones. They also greet patients and obtain their personal information such as address and insurance information. A MA compiles patient charts and files them appropriately. They keep the office organized, allowing it to run more efficiently.