There is a growing need for medical assistant jobs in today's health care field due to an enormous amount of paperwork and lab tests that must be completed. While most medical assistants work in a medical office or even a walk-in clinic, some are now working for specialists and even optometrists. When working for a physician, medical assistants are usually the first person a patient sees when they enter a practice. Their responsibilities often include:
- Having the initial conversation with a patient about their ailment or physical discomfort
- Taking a patient's blood pressure
- Taking a patient's temperature, if there is a sign of a fever
- Weighing a patient
- Performing simple vision and hearing tests.
After assessing a patient's initial problems, they will record the patient's "numbers," and perhaps even write down the ailment. They will also provide a clean gown for the patient to change into, or at least advise them of what article of clothing needs to be removed before the physician can further examine them.
When not directly assisting a doctor, medical assistants may also perform clerical work. Strong organizational skills as well as computer knowledge (word processing and scanning) are normally required for these types of jobs. A friendly, caring demeanor is also a plus, especially since medical assistants often have to deal with people who are not well. Some examples of clerical work might include:
- Answering multiple phone lines
- Scheduling appointments and referrals
- Making sure a patient's personal information is updated
- Confirming insurance coverage
- Taking co-payments when necessary
- Processing bills to submit to the insurance carrier
- Filing and/or scanning patient claims.
Helping the Physician
After evaluating a patient, a doctor may ask a medical assistant to draw blood from a patient and handle urine samples. Both of these samples would need to be properly labeled and sent out to a lab for further processing. Medical assistants also frequently perform EKG's and/or hook up a patient to a heart monitor at the request of the physician. When results from all these types of tests are in, a medical assistant would notify the doctor so that he or she could analyze the results and determine how a patient should be treated.
Being A Medical Assistant For An Optometrist
When working with optometrists, medical assistant jobs often include providing the same type of clerical work as in a medical office. Unlike a regular doctor's office, in which blood and urine samples might be required, an optometrist's office would require medical assistants to help with routine eye exams and glaucoma testing. Additionally, they might assist with contact lens fittings, ordering lenses for new prescription glasses and even fitting patients with new frames.