Healthcare delivery is a complex system that relies on a variety of professional specialties to run efficiently. Medical assistants work within the healthcare delivery system as part of the larger team with the goal of providing high quality patient care.
The role of the medical assistant is diverse and offers professionals a variety of career options. Medical assistants often work as a:
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) A CCMA works in both clinical and administrative settings to assist physicians and nurses. Typical tasks include taking vital signs, cleaning medical equipment, interviewing patients, preparing exam rooms, administering some medications, and performing point of care testing.
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) A CMAA works in hospital and clinical settings and serves as a medical office assistant or medical secretary. A CMAA is likely responsible for accessing health records, scheduling appointments, maintaining files, updating patient data and insurance information, and managing the administrative duties of the clinic or office.
- Certified EKG Technician (CET) A CET is responsible for the EKG process that measures the electrical activity of a patient’s heart. This is more than just operating the equipment. A CET administers stress tests and EKGs, prepares ambulatory monitoring, edits and delivers EKG results, and transcribes a physician’s analysis.
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) A CPT works in a variety of settings to collect blood for diagnostic and medical procedures. Typical tasks include evaluating patients for venipuncture protocol, explaining procedures, answering patient questions, performing point of care testing, preparing samples for analysis, and performing basic phlebotomy procedures.
- Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant (CMLA) A CMLA works in a laboratory to perform analysis of collected samples. A CMLA performs phlebotomy procedures, delivers specimens for testing, uses a centrifuge, communicates with others on the healthcare team, processes specimens for further testing, and maintains equipment.
- Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) A CBCS is responsible for interpreting medical charts, assigning corresponding codes, and billing both patients and insurers. This is vital to the revenue cycle of a practice and ensures that patient care is properly documented and accounted for.
- X-ray Technician Hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices rely on x-ray machinery for diagnosing, in high resolution, problems within the body. An x-ray technician operates the x-ray machinery, follows proper shielding protocol, adheres to physicians’ orders, presents images and read outs to the radiologist, and maintains detailed patient records.
In all of these specialties a medical assistant serves as a valuable member of the larger medical team. You can expect that your role in medical assisting will:
- Center on patient care Regardless if you are serving on the front line of patient care or you spend your days behind the scenes, the goal of medical assisting is always high quality patient care. Accurate billing, laboratory analysis, medical testing, and quality clinical assistance is crucial to ensuring patients receive the best care possible.
- Support the work of other professionals Just like a small cog in a much larger wheel, medical assisting plays a small role in larger system of healthcare delivery. A physician cannot offer her best to patients without a guaranteed revenue cycle provided by a billing and coding specialist. A nurse cannot adjust medication dosages without accurate laboratory results.
- Be rewarding There’s no greater satisfaction than knowing that your hard work made a difference for another person. As a medical assistant you go to work each day knowing that your work is making a difference to both patients and providers. This will motivate you to work hard and be a contributing member of an efficient team.
- Provide a satisfying future As our nation’s population ages there will be an increased need for healthcare. Earning a degree in medical assisting now will allow you to participate in the increasing demand while building a stable career. The diverse employment opportunities with a medical assisting degree will provide many avenues for employment and the possibility of career advancement.
Which specialty in medical assisting would be perfect for you? Which can you envision becoming your future career?