If you have been thinking about a career change, you love helping people and you’re interested in health and medicine, consider looking into medical assisting jobs. Life as a medical assistant is often busy, challenging, and at times difficult, but one thing it can never be is boring. If you’re ready for a better career, a career that is meaningful, then you are ready for a career in health care.
Medical assistants perform a variety of tasks in medical offices, including administrative tasks like filing paperwork and making a schedule, to clinical tasks like taking patient vital signs and assisting doctors during exams and procedures. These professionals have been trained in medical assistant programs and have the credentials necessary to work directly with patients.
Medical assisting jobs are meaningful and challenging, but they also offer security and a good income. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be over 100,000 new jobs for medical assistants over the next several years. The industry is growing faster than average and trained medical assistants are in high demand and will continue to be needed in all parts of the country for years to come. In this career the average salaries are around $30,000, which means there is a potential to earn even more than that.
To help you figure out if medical assisting jobs are right for your future career, consider what a typical person does on the job on a typical day. From checking out patient charts and planning the rest of the day to taking care of files and other administrative work to holding the hand of a scared patient, the daily duties of a medical assistant are varied and never boring.
In Medical Assisting Jobs, No Day is Typical
A description of a day in the life of a medical assistant isn’t necessarily a general one. No day is ever typical because these professionals work with a different set of patients every day, each with a unique set of needs. This is one of the things that makes this career so exciting. You will face daily challenges in your role as a medical assistant, and you will never get bored doing the job. One day you may be helping a patient with routine care for diabetes and the next you are comforting someone who doesn’t feel well and can’t figure out why.
Most Medical Assisting Jobs Begin with Preparations
For most medical assistants, a typical day will begin with a review of the charts and the schedule. In this job you will probably enter the office in the morning, take a look at the patient schedule for the day and then start pulling out the files for those patients. The doctors need to review these files before meeting with each patient, and having them out and ready to go is a big help.
After reviewing the schedule and patient files, your next task will be to prepare the rooms and equipment that the doctors will need to see these patients. You might need to get out the right equipment, clean and sterilize it, and set up the exam rooms with all the necessary tools and forms that the doctors may need. Because the day starts with all this prep work, most people in medical assisting jobs are expected to be in the office at least a half an hour before the first patient’s appointment time.
Getting Patients into Their Appointments
Another important duty in medical assisting jobs is to ensure that patients get in the door and into the exam rooms in an organized fashion. In some offices, medical assistants are responsible for all parts of this process, while in others duties are split between administrative and clinical medical assistants. The administrative medical assistant is responsible for getting patients signed in, making sure their charts are ready, verifying a patient’s identity and health insurance, and helping them fill out the correct forms.
A clinical medical assistant calls each patient in for their appointments and gets them settled into the exam room. In these types of medical assisting jobs you are responsible for taking vital signs, like measuring the patient’s blood pressure and weight, and asking any necessary preliminary questions. The medical assistant in this role records all the information as well as patient answers in the same chart the doctor will be referencing throughout the appointment.
Medical Assisting Jobs Also Include Working Side-by-Side with the Doctor
In medical assistant schools you learn how to perform many of these duties independently, but in this career you will also be expected to work with doctors. An important part of the workday is being side-by-side in the exam room with the doctor or doctors depending on the size of the facility. Your job in this capacity is to assist the doctor in any way necessary, making sure you’re close at all times is key.
Working in the exam room with the doctor and patient may involve handing instruments to the doctor as needed for examining the patient or for a procedure. You may also need to open up sterile bandages or tools, provide the doctor with personal protective equipment, and add notes in the patient’s file as the doctor dictates them to you.
Helping the Patient after the Doctor Leaves
Once the doctor has completed an examination or procedure, it is up to the medical assistant to wrap up the appointment. This means explaining to the patient what to do next, any home care that he or she needs to do, when to schedule the next appointment, or how to use any medication. The medical assisting jobs also include answering any questions the patient may still have about what the doctor said. It is important to be a good communicator in this role because you will often be the person translating what the doctor has said and making it easier for the patient to understand.
The End of the Day in Medical Assisting Jobs
The time at which the day ends may vary a little bit as doctor’s appointments tend to run over their allotted times. The schedule for the day may start out set, but it has to be flexible. Before a medical assistant can leave, though, there are some end-of-day responsibilities. As a medical assistant you will probably be expected to clean and sterilize the exam rooms so they are ready for the next day, put things away, file the day’s patient files, and wrap up any paperwork that needs to be completed.
In Medical Assisting Jobs Noticing Something out of the Ordinary is Crucial
As a medical assistant you will be highly involved with patients. It may not seem as if your work is that important, but it is; in fact, it can be life-saving. A big responsibility for medical assistants is to notice when something isn’t right. These professionals are usually the first person to see the patient. If you record vital signs that are abnormal, you are expected to report it to the doctor immediately. Doing so could actually save the life of the patient.
This day in the life of a medical assistant is a general description. Medical assisting jobs do typically have a daily routine, but the routine also varies day-by-day based on the patients. The patients are what make this job so interesting. You never know who you will see each day or what their medical needs are until you start the schedule for the day and meet each new person. In a busy, large office, each day is likely to be hectic and busy. In smaller offices there may actually be some down time.
You can learn even more about what it’s like to work in in medical assistant jobs, what it takes to be a medical assistant, and the requirements for getting hired from the American Association of Medical Assistants, a professional association just for administrative and clinical medical assistants.
You can also get more information by visiting our school website. Here you can find out about how to enroll, options for medical assistant programs, and everything we have to offer students from flexible schedules to financial aid assistance and career services. When you’re ready to launch your new career in health care, contact us to get more information and to get enrolled in classes!