Medical Assistant as a Career | Harris School of Business
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Medical Assistant as a Career

Types of Medical Assistant Jobs

Clerical Medical Assistants

Clerical medical assistants perform the many duties that keep an office running efficiently. You might answer phones, schedule appointments, greet patients, sort mail, and work one-on-one with doctors to help them with their paperwork.

Administrative Medical Assistants

In addition to clerical duties, administrative medical assistants tend to handle medically related tasks. You could submit medical claim forms, update patient files, schedule medical tests, and arrange for hospital admissions. You might also handle billing and bookkeeping for the medical facility or practice you’ve joined.

Clinical Medical Assistants

Clinical medical assistants handle a variety of clinically related tasks, depending on the laws of the state in which they work. Clinical medical assistants may prepare patients for examinations, take medical histories, and assist the physician during an examination. As a clinical medical assistant, you might explain medical procedures to patients, call in prescriptions to pharmacies, collect laboratory specimens, and sterilize medical instruments. Additional duties might include drawing blood, removing sutures, and administering electrocardiograms.

Specialized Medical Assistants

As a medical assistant, you might specialize in a particular field. You could be assigned duties that reflect your areas of expertise. For example, optometric assistants work closely with optometrists in testing patients' eyes, teach patients how to use contact lenses, and assist the optometrist during an eye exam. As a podiatric medical assistant, you might help cast feet and assist the podiatrist in surgery. Medical lab assistants work primarily in the lab, with duties related to testing and documenting specimens.

Professional Settings

You will also be able to choose from a range of professional settings, including:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Offices of physicians
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Offices of other health practitioners
  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools

Topics You Will Study

As a student in the Harris School Medical Assistant Program, you will gain knowledge in a number of fields. Topics you will study might include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Patient care procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical office procedures
  • Communication skills
  • Computer skills

Job Outlook

Medical Assistants: US Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Outlook

Employment is projected to grow much faster than the national average, with forecasts of up to 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations over the decade.

Job opportunities should be excellent, particularly for those with formal training or experience, and certification.

As the healthcare industry expands because of technological advances in medicine and the growth and aging of the population, there will be an increased need for all healthcare workers.

Helping to drive job growth is the increasing number of group practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities that need a high proportion of support personnel, particularly medical assistants who can handle both administrative and clinical duties.

Medical assistants work mostly in primary care, a consistently growing sector of the healthcare industry.

Medical assistants are projected to account for a very large number of new jobs, and many other opportunities will come from the need to replace workers leaving the occupation.

Medical assistants with formal training or experience—particularly those with certification—should have the best job opportunities, since employers generally prefer to hire these workers.

Earnings/Salary Data

The earnings of medical assistants vary, depending on their experience, skill level,and location.

Medical Industry: The industry in which a medical assistant works significantly influences his or her salary. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salaries of medical assistants, broken down by industry. Examples of industry areas include:

  • Medical Offices, Clinics, and Hospitals
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals
  • Offices of Dentists
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities
  • Insurance Carriers

Location: Geographic location is a big variable in the salaries of medical assistants. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that showed the breakdown of the average medical assistants’ salaries by state. There was quite a difference in average annual salaries, depending on state.

For the latest information on medical assistant salaries, visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics site.

Medical Assistant Resource Sites

Here are additional resources you can investigate to learn more about the medical assistant field.

American Medical Technologists

National Health Care Association

Looking for a Better Career?

Now that you've read about the medical assistant program, you may decide that you are looking for something different. At Harris School of Business, we offer numerous career-training programs that will prepare you for a better job and a better life. Check out our list of programs to find the right one for you.