Medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices and clinics of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors and optometrists running smoothly. Medical assisting is one of the nation’s fastest growing careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Medical assistants have both administrative and clinical duties. They may answer the telephone, greet patients, fill out medical records and update them as needed, schedule appointments and handle correspondence and billing.
On the clinical side, medical assistants often are the people who take medical histories, prepare patients for examination, assist the doctor during appointments and perform basic laboratory tests, along with other clinical responsibilities.
What a medical assistant does will depend on the office where she or he works, state law and the needs of the assistant’s employer.
While medical assistants work in a variety of settings, most work in a clinic or doctor’s office. The medical assistant is a valuable member of a team that provides patient care. They need to be able to multi-task and prioritize their daily responsibilities. Work hours are usually Monday through Friday, although many clinics offer extended evening and weekend hours.
Salary Range and Outlook
The average hourly wage for medical assistants is $14.69.
Most employers prefer graduates of formal programs in medical assisting. Such programs are offered in vocational-technical high schools, post-secondary vocational schools, community and junior colleges and colleges and universities. Post-secondary programs usually last either one year, resulting in a certificate or diploma, or two years, resulting in an associate degree.
The American Association of Medical Assistants’ website provides information about accredited training programs. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs website includes a database of accredited programs by state.
Learn More About a Career as a Medical Assistant
- Watch this video profile of a day in the life of a medical assistant.
- Read more about what a career as a medical assistant can offer in these profiles.