As many of our students prepare for their careers in the medical and dental industries, it becomes increasingly important to prepare students for the daily tasks and duties in the professional world as well as the theoretical framework it will take for them to get there. While medical assistants, including those who study phlebotomy, may go into fields with remarkably specialized disciplines, they also need to understand the core duties that will make up the bulk of their time in the medical office. Below, we look at some of these core duties and what they entail.
Schedule & Set-Up
One of the core functions of most medical assistants will always be reviewing that day’s itinerary and preparing the rooms, equipment, charts, and more for the physicians. Based on the schedule, medical assistants are required to set up the equipment and the examination room for each patient. This includes paying close attention to rules and regulations about equipment, sterilization, and disinfection, ensuring that the exam table and equipment are clean and ready to be used on a new patient. Housekeeping like this is an important way to set the tone for new patients visiting your practice; this helps maximize the time that the patient is able to spend with the physician, as well as establishing a safe, predictable, clean environment for patients who may be visiting the office. Patients can often show signs of stress or discomfort just coming to a doctor’s office; by ensuring the practice is kept in order and the doctor’s have the tools and materials at their disposal to effectively care for a patient, medical assistants essentially keep the practice running as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Probably the one role that many commonly associate with a medical assistant is prepping the patient for the visit of the physician by performing typical tests and pertinent procedures. Medical assistants will help patients prepare for their appointment with the physician by taking vital signs and other measurements for doctors. Many medical assistants take blood pressure, temperature, height, weight, and more to note any irregularities that may prove to be integral insights for the physician. This initial screening goes straight onto the patient chart, allowing the medical assistant to be agile in moving from patient to patient while effectively preparing the physician to spend more time with their patient and get a comprehensive glimpse into their overall health.
In addition to having a firm understanding behind what healthy vitals look like for different age groups and populations, medical assistants should be intimately familiar with medications, their side effects, and common health issues that may be affecting their patients. Doctors will often rely on medical assistants to collect information about any potential allergies the patient may have, current prescriptions, and basic information about medical history. This helps the doctor to get insight into their current state of health and saves time in diagnosis, but it also helps to set the expectations of the patient to better prepare them for the physician.
Administrative & Appointments
In addition to hands-on help like the items mentioned above, medical assistants also spend a portion of their day as administrative assistants. The administrative capacity of a medical assistant is usually simply communicating with patients to relay information about prescriptions, conditions or diagnoses, or simply follow-up information for previous appointments. Essentially, medical assistants tend to act as a liaison in between the doctor and the patient. Because the medical assistant is so vital to this communication process, it’s very critical that they have a comprehensive understanding of how to communicate sensitive, delicate information with tact and precision. In many ways, the medical assistants are the front line of communication for a medical office.