General Job Duties of a Medical Assistant

by: Kelsey Andriot

During the past 10 years, I have had many different jobs in the healthcare industry with many different job duties. However, working as a Medical Assistant is one of the best jobs I have had so far.

I wanted to give some insight for anyone that wants to learn more about Medical Assisting and give some examples of what we actually do at work on a daily basis. Please keep in mind, that each clinic will have different policies and protocols that their Medical Assistants need to follow. However, the duties listed are pretty universal with every clinic.

“Rooming” Patients

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In the healthcare industry, the only place that you will really find a Medical Assistant is in a clinic. The term “Rooming” is a term that is used for the action of a medical assistant calling a patient from the waiting room, getting a detailed history, and vital signs prior to that patient seeing their physician. When a patient goes to see the doctor for an office visit, the a Medical Assistant is always the medical professional that a patient sees immediately prior to seeing their physician (not a nurse).

Phone Calls (Incoming and Outgoing)

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A lot of patients will call their physician’s office with many questions. Some calls can be regarding forms and medical clearance. Other calls can be regarding questions patients may have about medications and dosages, appointments, symptoms, and more. Normally, when a patient calls their physician’s office, the first person to answer the phone is a medical assistant. In some situations, the medical assistant can help the patient directly and answer any questions or address any concerns that the patient might have. There are other situations, which might require a physician’s or a nurse’s attention; in those situations, the medical assistant will take a message and give it to the appropriate personnel.

The topic of outgoing calls can vary just as widely as the incoming calls. Medical Assistants can call patients with questions about refills. We can call patients regarding test results or to give the patient a message from a doctor. We can also call other physician offices to obtain (or send) certain medical records that we have not yet been obtained (or sent). Again, there is a multitude of reasons medical assistants can make phone calls. But generally speaking, if we are not rooming patients, then medical assistants are making or taking phone calls.

Medication Refills

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Physician clinics can see a very large volume of refill requests that come from their patients on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the doctor does not usually have the time to go through these refill requests entirely on his own. As a result, protocol usually is written so that the medical assistant can legally take over this job duty.

When a Medical Assistant helps with refilling medications, really what we are doing is we are checking everything about that patient and the medication that is being refilled. We are looking to make sure that the medication requested is on the patient’s medication list and if the dosage is the same. If it is not then we will contact the patient to discuss the situation. Or another item we look for is whether or not the patient has seen their physician or has had the appropriate labs drawn in the last year or so. If the there is something wrong with the refill request (i.e. the patient has not seen a doctor in a few years) then we will ask a nurse or a doctor for advice regarding whether or not to refill the medication.

My Advice for High Schoolers

Over the last several years, I have seen a significant increase in the amount of concerned parents (or other family members) ask me about the details of my job. Some have asked me what my actual job title is. But most have asked about the kind of education required for my job. And so on...

I tell every one the same thing. Often times, my advise in not what many people would expect.

1) Get Certified in High School

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There are many metropolitan high schools that have adopted the idea of offering trade school classes that allow their students to become some sort of certified healthcare professional at the age of 18. There are many technical jobs in healthcare that require certifications. Be sure to check with your high school guidance counselor to see which is best for you and your career goals. For example, those who are looking to go into nursing, physicians assistants, or physicians the two best certifications you should look into is the Certified Nursing Assistant or the Certified Medical Assistant.

If your high school does not offer these types of classes, usually local community colleges or trade schools will offer these programs. Typically, these programs include six to nine months of in class training along with clinicals.

2) Spend at Least a Year Working

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After getting the medical certification of your choice, start working in the field for at least a year prior to returning to school. This option is perfect for people who have no idea what they want to do with there life. During this year of working, save as much money as you possibly can and learn as much as you possibly can. (Speaking from experience) what you are going to learn by working in the field of healthcare is going to be invaluable compared to what you are going to learn in a classroom! I have learned far more by working with patients and doctors than I ever have learned in a college course. What you will learn in college will be more of a compliment to what you have already learned while working in the field.

3) Get your Employer to pay for your Bachelors Degree (and graduate college debt free)

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Most healthcare companies provide their employees with the benefit of paying for their college education. This allows your college to be paid while taking out a small amount government student loans. But there is a catch. Most hospitals (or other healthcare employers) will pay for your education so long as you work for them while you are still in school and you have acceptable grades. If you choose to go this route you will be graduating college without going several hundred thousand dollars of debt (which is typical for the college graduate today).

Studying: Best Practices

Hello everyone! It is the hard to believe that we have completed three and a half weeks for the year 2019! Where has the time gone?

Despite the year still being one quarter complete, many things have happened. I have set up a Facebook Page, reconfigured my Instagram Account, started the Spring Semester of school, passed two tests, and I have two more tests coming up that I need to study for. Thus, I have taken inspiration for today’s blog post from having to study for school.

Studying comes in many different forms. For my first degree, my time studying was almost entirely spent reading, writing and memorizing. However, I am in school trying to earn a second bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. This major is an entirely different breed. Engineering is almost entirely math. Studying for math involves more practice and deduction than anything else. But I am getting off topic, so I digress.

Since returning to college there are many things that I have learned about regarding study habits and college success. Below, I have listed out a few major points about studying do’s and don’ts.

Studying

1) The Relationship Between Comfort Level and Studying

The more experience I have with successful study, the more evident it has become that there is a correlation between comfort level and studying. In other words, the more comfortable I am, the less productive I am during my studies. To combat this, here are a few things I have found that help tremendously with my productivity during study hours.

Dress Nicely (Try to Avoid Wearing PJ’s and Athletic Wear)

No, you do not have to wear your fanciest clothing. But you will not be as productive dressed in your PJ’s or athletic gear as you would in regular clothes. Make it a point to wear jean pants or jean shorts and a nice blouse or graphic T-shirt. Another option, is a casual maxi skirt/dress, sun dress, or jean skirt. Since it is cold outside, I usually wear skinny jeans, boots, a fashion T-shirt, and a cardigan/jacket/vest. In the future, I might write a post that includes some of my favorite outfits to wear during my studies. But for now you might be able to find some inspiration on my Pinterest board I’m a Citizen of the World (pay particular attention to the Cozy Section, Casual Date Sectionand the Weekend Section).

Do not Study on your Bed

I know that I cannot be the only person who is like this, but my bed is my heaven. It is the most comfortable place for me to be. Because it is so comfortable, it is a terrible place for me to study. I am not nearly as productive if I study on my bed as I am when I study at the kitchen/dinning room table or my desk. When I am sitting on my bed, I often time get distracted doing other things. This is not ideal for an environment that needs to promote learning

Better yet, Get out of the House

Being at home makes us comfortable, since comfort level seems to be inversely correlated with productive study.  Therefore, it is probably best that you get out of the house entirely. Where you go does not matter, just get out of the house. I find that cafes are my favorite places to study. But libraries, classrooms, the Math Lab, your Professor’s office are all excellent alternatives to sit and study your material. On Friday’s I go study in my Physic’s classroom and study.  On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, I sit in my Professor’s office and complete Calculus III homework.

brown book page
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2) Read your Textbook and Write Down Everything!

There is something about writing things down that make concepts much easier to memorize and understand. As you sit and read your textbook, be sure to jot down as many notes about what you are reading. Also, it is very important that you review and rewrite the notes that you have taken while in class. For example, one of the things I do (especially in Physics). I sit and read the book and write down any and every major point and revelation the book gives me. Then you sit and practice the sample problems. Generally, I will try to attempt the sample problem myself, then go back and see what I got wrong (you do not learn a thing by getting everything right). Finally, I will attempt to solve every odd numbered problem at the end of each chapter (these problems have the solutions in the back of the book).

3) Setting Timers

This subject will most definitely require another post, because it applies to every situation (not just school). Plus, if you have never gotten into the habit of timing yourself, then there are a few things that you might want to know prior to picking this up as a habit. Therefore, I will follow up with a post in the next few weeks regarding this topic.

4) Finally, Take Breaks and Do No have “Study Marathons.” 

As humans, some of our biggest flaw is thinking that we learn more if we sit for several hours and study the same subject they whole time. This could not be further from the truth. Be sure to take breaks during your studies. During those breaks, be sure to actually get up and do something. There are many things you could do during your breaks, clean your room, clean the kitchen, go for a run/walk, lift weights, spend time working on a hobby, blog and so on. This is why timing yourself with timers are so important, so that you do not get so caught up in studies. Also timers help you time your breaks so that you  do not loose yourself in these hobbies during these breaks.

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