What Roles do Medical Assistants Play in Various Physician Offices?Medical assistants (MAs) are vital to physicians in ensuring efficient functioning of their practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 57% of all MAs work in Offices of physicians. Here, we’ll give you everything you need to know about the roles doctors and MAs play in specialized medicine, the work environment, and what kind of schedules you can expect. Keep in mind that state Scope of Practice laws may limit some of these duties if you are not registered or certified as an MA.
AnesthesiologyAn anesthesiologist is a doctor (DO or MD) who practices anesthesia. They are vital in surgical wards as they develop anesthetic care and administer anesthesia according to a patient’s particular needs. They are responsible for keeping a patient sedated and monitoring his or her health during surgery.
A medical assistant working for an anesthesiologist may perform a variety of tasks related to the specialization. His or her role is to assist the anesthesiologist before, after, and sometimes during surgeries. Duties may include:
• Taking a complete patient history, as previous surgeries may have an effect on the type or amount of anesthesia a particular patient may need or tolerate.
• Assisting with physical exams to help identify problems or concerns that may affect the anesthesiologist’s plan for care.
• Helping with diagnostic and laboratory tests.
• Preparing patients for monitoring during and after surgeries, usually with noninvasive procedures.
• Assisting with specialized procedures including but not limited to electroencephalographic spectral analysis, echocardiography, and the catheterization of the pulmonary artery.
• Testing and calibrating the machinery used to deliver anesthesia to the patient.
• Assisting with adjusting and monitoring anesthesia levels.
• Monitoring the patient during postoperative care.
• Assisting the anesthesiologist and surgical team with life support when needed.
• Helping in intensive care, critical care, and pain units as required.
• Performing a variety of administrative duties, which may include research and documentation.
Anesthesiologists and their MAs typically work set hours in hospitals, though they are often on-call. This means that there may be times when the MA will need to be available around the clock for days at a time. They will need to be able to get to the hospital quickly in order to assist with a surgery.
CardiologyA cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the heart, the blood vessels, and the entire cardiovascular system. They are called upon when special expertise and treatment related to the heart is required. Cardiologists are not cardiac surgeons, though they can and often do perform specialized invasive tests such as cardiac catheterizations.
A medical assistant working for a cardiologist must have special knowledge of the cardiovascular system. He or she may gain this knowledge on the job through training or through classroom coursework. His or her duties may include:
• Taking medical histories from patients.
• Prepping patients for cardiovascular procedures.
• Recording the results of heart tests, including stress tests, accurately in the patient’s records.
• Applying monitors to patients.
• Taking electrocardiograms as instructed.
• Educating patients on heart-healthy diets and medications.
• Communicating with patients about their concerns.
• Collecting blood and other samples for laboratory processing.
• Performing administrative duties such as scheduling appointments and contacting insurance companies.
Most cardiologists work in their own offices and at their own practices. Some may work in clinics, as well. Because cardiologists do travel to smaller communities on occasion (once weekly or twice monthly) to provide their services, an MA working in cardiology may also be required to travel.
Chiropractic MedicineA chiropractor is someone who focuses on the diagnosis of certain types of neuromuscular disorders. His or her primary function involves manipulating and adjusting the spine to provide relief from pain and pressure. Oftentimes, it is categorized as alternative medicine, but it is growing increasingly popular and is often recommended by primary care physicians.
A medical assistant working in a chiropractor’s office is sometimes called a chiropractic or chiropractor’s assistant. He or she is often responsible for ensuring that the office runs smoothly throughout the day, and he or she may perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks along the way. They include:
• Maintaining and keeping track of the supplies needed to run the office.
• Scheduling patient appointments.
• Verifying patients’ insurance coverage prior to the provision of services.
• Sorting through the office’s mail.
• Transferring patients as necessary.
• Keeping the exam rooms and work area clean and orderly.
• Cleaning gowns and towels used by the chiropractor to perform services.
• Assisting patients with referrals from the chiropractor to other specialists, such as medical doctors and pain management specialists.
A chiropractor very rarely works outside of normal daytime hours, and while most work in their own private offices, a select few may work for a clinic in a particular health network. This means that a chiropractic medical assistant will work very predictable hours in a very predictable setting.
DentistryWhether or not you can work as a medical assistant in a dental office depends on the state in which you live. In some states, you must have a certificate or diploma that is specific to dental assisting, and in all states, you’ll need a postsecondary degree or award in medical assisting at the very least.
A dentist is responsible for providing oral care to patients, and the role of a medical assistant in a dentist’s office is supportive. The MA may perform mainly clerical or mainly clinical roles, though in many cases, they act as jacks of all trades. The duties may include:
• Taking medical and dental histories from patients.
• Preparing patients and the exam rooms for procedures.
• Assisting patients with their comfort prior to and during procedures.
• Assisting dentists by providing them with tools and implements.
• Using suction tools to keep patients’ mouths dry, enabling dentists to work.
• Taking and processing dental x-rays and other lab tasks.
• Scheduling patient appointments.
• Verifying patients’ insurance coverage or applicable discounts.
• Working with patients with payments and billing.
• Instructing patients in proper oral care.
• Calling or otherwise sending reminders to patients before their regular checkups.
Dentists typically work weekdays during the daytime hours, though some offices are open through the evenings and even on the weekends. A medical assistant in a dentist’s office will rarely work overtime, and typically does not work on weekends or holidays.
DermatologyA dermatologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases and conditions of the skin. They may treat everything from moderate acne to early-stage skin cancer, psoriasis, and even conditions of the hair, scalp, and nails. Dermatologists work with patients of all ages.
As a medical assistant in a dermatologist’s office, your roles may vary from patient to patient. You will likely perform a variety of administrative tasks throughout the day, and you will be called upon to assist the doctor with patient care, as well. Duties include:
• Scheduling patients over the phone or reviewing online scheduling applications.
• Obtaining consent for treatment from patients via forms.
• Assisting with billing, medical records, and insurance claims.
• Collecting and reviewing patient medical histories prior to treatment.
• Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens to assist with diagnoses.
• Assisting the dermatologist with procedures as required.
• Contacting other specialists, such as oncologists, and scheduling appointments on behalf of patients.
Like many other specialists, dermatologists typically work in their own practices or in network-based clinics alongside other types of specialists. Medical assistants in dermatology will work daytime hours through the week, and will almost never be required to work weekends or holidays.
Emergency MedicineEmergency medical facilities are open around the clock to provide a variety of services to patients who are critically ill or injured. Emergency medicine is an incredibly stressful and fast-paced work environment, and every member of the healthcare staff – including doctors, nurses, and medical assistants – must be up to the challenges of saving patients’ lives.
As a medical assistant in an emergency department, you will support doctors, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team. The roles you perform on a daily basis may fluctuate wildly from one minute to the next. Your duties will include:
• Assisting with triage for patients who come into the department for emergency care.
• Taking and recording patient vital signs.
• Taking and maintaining patient histories that may help doctors with the proper diagnosis and treatments.
• Performing basic first aid and CPR as required to save patients’ lives.
• Providing blankets and linens to the ER department as needed.
• Ensuring that patients have clean water to drink.
• Assisting with admitting patients into the hospital when needed and overseeing their transport from the emergency department to another department.
• Contacting family members when required to gather information about patients.
• Providing any sort of assistance the doctors, nurses, aids, radiologists, phlebotomists and other specialists may need to help them provide quality healthcare.
An emergency room medical assistant may work days, evening, nights, or even swing shifts depending on the needs of the facility. You may also be on call for days at a time, which means that even on your days off, you may be called in to work based on need and demand.
EndocrinologyAn endocrinologist is a doctor who focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions that result due to hormones or hormonal imbalances. Often, their main plans of treatment are centered on restoring normal hormonal balance. Some of the conditions they treat include diabetes and thyroid problems, though there are many others that range from relatively common to incredibly rare.
A medical assistant in an endocrinologist’s office should have some advanced knowledge of hormones, including what they are and what they do in the body. This helps the medical assistant deliver the best possible support and care to the patient. Some of the duties you may perform as an endocrinology medical assistant include:
• Setting patient appointments.
• Greeting patients and showing them to exam rooms.
• Administering hormone injections under the supervision of an endocrinologist.
• Assisting with biopsies, lumbar punctures, and other procedures as requested.
• Administering oral medications and answering questions about those medications.
• Answering patients’ questions about their unique conditions.
• Assisting with referrals to other medical specialists when required.
Endocrinology offices are rarely open outside of regular business hours, which means that an MA working in such an office will have a very predictable schedule. However, there may be cases when you are called to a hospital or nursing facility on your off time to assist the doctor with patient emergencies.
Family MedicineA family medicine doctor is a general practitioner who sees patients of all ages. He or she is often the first line of contact when someone is sick or injured in a way that does not require immediate medical attention. They provide infant well-checks, annual physicals, and regular care for their patients.
A medical assistant in a family medicine practice will have a variety of roles. He or she will likely be the first face patients see upon arriving, and the last one they see before leaving. It is your duty to assist the doctor and/or nurses with providing the best possible care. Your duties may include:
• Greeting patients upon their arrival.
• Helping patients fill out paperwork.
• Taking patient information, including the reasons for their visits and medical histories.
• Helping patients to exam rooms as necessary.
• Talking to the doctor or nurses about patient needs.
• Assisting with keeping very young children calm during their examinations.
• Scheduling appointments with a variety of specialists on patients’ behalf.
• Answering telephones and filing paperwork.
• Keeping front and back office areas clean and stocked.
Although many family medicine offices operate only during regular business hours, more and more practices are remaining open through the evening and even on some weekends. As such, your hours may vary based upon the specific practice or physician for whom you work.
GastroenterologyA gastroenterologist is a doctor who has extensive knowledge of conditions affecting the stomach, esophagus, intestines, and biliary system, which includes the gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, and pancreas. Patients are often referred to gastroenterologists by their primary care doctors due to specific symptoms or a suspected diagnosis of a specific condition. Some of the conditions gastroenterologists treat most frequently include chronic heartburn, gall bladder problems, bowel incontinence, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and more.
A medical assistant working for a gastroenterologist should have special knowledge of the digestive tract and biliary system. This will allow you to be a strong asset to doctors and nurses working in gastroenterology. You may perform some or all of the following duties:
• Greeting patients and preparing them for treatment and examination.
• Taking patient history and vital signs.
• Preparing exam rooms with the right tools and implements based upon the procedure being performed.
• Giving injections and assisting with blood draws or other specimen collection.
• Preparing and maintaining medical implements, including the sterilization of those instruments.
• Helping doctors get ready to perform small outpatient surgeries.
• Assisting with front office duties such as answering phones and/or patient scheduling.
In most cases, working for a gastroenterologist means you will work standard daytime hours with very few, if any, nights or weekends. However, keep in mind that some gastroenterologists perform emergency surgeries, and you may be asked to be present.
Geriatric MedicineGeriatrics is defined as a medical specialty focused on the care of the elderly. A physician who works in geriatric medicine has a solid understanding of (and experience with) conditions that affect the aging portion of the population. Patients may schedule their own appointments with a geriatric medicine physician, or they may be referred by a primary care physician in some cases.
A medical assistant working in geriatric medicine should also have advanced knowledge of the aging process and some of the conditions that come with it. For the most part, your primary duty will be to act as a liaison between the physician and the patient to relay information and assist in providing care. Otherwise, you may perform some or all of the following tasks on a daily basis:
• Greeting patients and assisting them to their seats or exam rooms.
• Taking patient histories and vital signs.
• Creating basic health reports for physicians based on the patient’s history and current vital signs.
• Assisting patients with ambulation, when required.
• Assisting the physician with examinations or procedures when requested.
• Talking with patients about their fears or concerns regarding certain procedures, test results, medications, and more.
• Talking with patients’ families about options for care, particularly when that patient has a legal Power of Attorney to make decisions for him or her.
• Reviewing all of the patient’s medications for safety.
• Collecting and delivering lab specimens.
• Performing basic front office duties like answering phones, filing records, and assisting patients with forms.
Geriatric medicine is much like a traditional doctor’s office, only designed and developed for elderly patients. Most of the time, you will work a nine-to-five shift during the week, and you will not be asked to work weekends or weekdays. It offers a very predictable schedule.
Infectious Disease SpecialistAn infectious disease specialist is a physician who has expert knowledge in bacterial, viral, fungal, and even parasitic infections. He or she also has extensive knowledge in antiviral, antibiotic, and antifungal medications. In most cases, patients who see these specialists are referred by their physicians after receiving a diagnosis. In a few cases, patients who have been previously undiagnosed due to the rarity of a condition may be asked to see an infectious disease specialist for an accurate diagnosis.
A medical assistant working in an infectious disease specialist’s office should have advanced knowledge of the prevention and treatment of a variety of infections. You will need to understand how to prevent the transmission of contagious pathogens, and you will need to work directly with patients who may have contagious illnesses. Some of the duties you may need to perform on a daily basis include:
• Preparing, cleaning, and sanitizing exam rooms between patients.
• Checking charts for lab results, x-ray results, and other laboratory results.
• Preparing patients for their examinations by taking medical histories, assessing symptoms, and taking vital signs.
• Asking patients to wear masks to prevent the transmission of potentially contagious diseases.
• Drawing blood and collecting other lab specimens.
• Administering oral or injectable medications as directed by the physician.
As an MA in an infectious disease clinic or office, you will likely work a regular daytime schedule. However, in some cases, these specialists may be called to hospitals to assess patients who are too sick to travel to the office. In cases like these, you may be called to assist, which could mean evening, weekend, or even holiday hours.
Internal MedicineA doctor of internal medicine works with adults to provide diagnoses, care, and treatment to patients who have a very broad range of illnesses and conditions. They perform wellness examinations, but they also treat adults for many common and some rare conditions, too. Internal medicine doctors are common in inpatient settings; they often make rounds to see patients in hospitals before and after their regular office hours.
As a medical assistant working in internal medicine, you should have ample knowledge of basic medical care. You will likely see patients with a variety of conditions and needs on a daily basis. Some of the duties you can expect to perform include:
• Scheduling patient appointments via the telephone.
• Greeting patients and taking their medical histories and vital signs.
• Escorting patients to exam rooms and preparing them for exams or procedures.
• Talking to doctors or nurses about patient complaints and symptoms in order to provide better care.
• Preparing, cleaning, and restocking exam rooms between patients.
• Administering oral or injectable medications according to the doctor’s orders.
• Collecting and delivering lab samples as well as checking for lab results.
• Talking to patients about their conditions and the proper management of chronic conditions.
You may or may not be called to accompany the physician to make hospital rounds. In these cases, assistance may be provided by nursing assistants or MAs employed directly through the hospital. This means that your work hours will likely be very predictable in nature.
NephrologyA nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in treating conditions that affect the kidneys. General care physicians often refer patients to nephrologists if they have kidney stones, blood or protein in their urine, high blood pressure, and even electrolyte disorders.
If you work as a medical assistant in a nephrology clinic, you will have a wide variety of very specific duties. It is helpful to have a firm understanding of the kidneys, though knowledge of common insurance practices and basic medical care is also relevant. Some of the duties you will perform daily include:
• Greeting patients and assisting them with initial intake paperwork.
• Talking to general care doctors and documenting reasons for patient referral.
• Working directly with patients, when required, to collect specimens for the lab or to prep patients for things like biopsies, blood draws, venipunctures, and more.
• Documenting procedures and their results appropriately and thoroughly.
• Performing front office/administrative tasks such as filing, coding, billing, and verifying patients’ insurance coverage.
• Providing clinical and clerical support to the entire office staff as needed.
• Assisting patients with and facilitating regular dialysis treatments.
Nephrology is generally a daytime-only medical practice. Patients who are on dialysis typically come on a set schedule during the week. This means that you will likely work the same hours each and every day of the week with very few exceptions, even in the case of an emergency.
NeurologyA neurologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases and conditions of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. They are often the first contact for patients who have suffered from aneurysms or strokes, and they also work with patients who have certain diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Some neurologists are also neurosurgeons (brain surgeons) but this is not always the case.
As a medical assistant working in neurology, advanced knowledge of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves will certainly serve you well. Familiarity with how these systems work together in the body is essential when it comes to providing the best possible assistance to the neurology staff. Some of your daily duties include:
• Taking and recording patients’ vital signs.
• Drawing blood or collecting other specimens for lab work or examination.
• Assisting the physician during the examination or treatment of patients.
• Maintaining patient charts with accurate, updated information.
• Arranging for lab work when needed, and scheduling appointments with other specialists (neurosurgeons or oncologists, for example) as needed.
• Talking to patients about their histories, chief complaints, and symptoms.
• Performing front office duties such as contacting insurance companies, answering phones, coding, billing, and more.
A job in a neurologist’s office is typically predictable. You will likely work daytime hours through the week and have weekends and holidays off work. However, if you find the human brain fascinating, this is a very fulfilling and interesting career option for you.
Obstetrics and Gynecology
A doctor of obstetrics and gynecology is responsible for the care of women’s reproductive health. This doctor is also responsible for the care and treatment of pregnant women, all while keeping both the health of the mother and her child in mind. The doctor also travels to hospitals regularly to check on laboring mothers and deliver babies.
A medical assistant working in an obstetrics and gynecology practice has a very exciting career. He or she will often get to know patients over the course of their pregnancies, and they will see others annually (or more often) for well-checks and routine preventive care. Some of the duties you may be asked to perform in this setting include:
• Answering phones and scheduling appointments.
• Verifying insurance coverage.
• Greeting patients upon their arrival.
• Collecting urine or blood for pregnancy tests and other laboratory work.
• Accompanying the doctor into exam rooms to help patients feel more comfortable.
• Talking with patients about proper prenatal care and in some cases providing advice.
• Discussing the dangers of certain activities while pregnant.
• Reassuring women who are pregnant and easing their apprehension about labor and delivery.
• Scheduling birthing classes and hospital tours on behalf of patients.
• Keeping accurate patient records.
• Checking the results of lab work and tests; contacting patients with those results.
A career as a medical assistant in obstetrics and gynecology can be incredibly busy and fraught with long ours, but also rewarding. Oftentimes, an obstetrician will ask his or her MA to accompany him or her to the hospital to see laboring patients, or even aid in the delivery of babies. In fact, obstetrics is one of the most in-demand specializations among medical assistants.
OncologyAn oncologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats different types of cancer. He or she has extensive knowledge in the various causes, types, and treatments for cancers. There are three main areas of oncology, or subspecialties. These are surgery, medicine, and radiation.
A career in oncology can be heartbreaking and rewarding at the same time. Some patients lose their battles with cancer, but others come through with flying colors. You will need a developed set of qualities such as compassion and a degree of separation from your patients to succeed in this field. Depending on the subspecialty of the physician for whom you work, your duties may vary. They include:
• Scheduling new patients via referral from their physicians.
• Greeting new patients as they arrive, taking their medical histories, and obtaining their vital signs.
• Recording and keeping accurate patient charts.
• Filling out insurance forms on patients’ behalf.
• Cleaning, preparing, and restocking examination rooms.
• Collecting blood, urine, stool, or biopsy samples for examination.
• Assisting the physician with examinations as requested.
• Talking to patients about what they can expect during a certain treatment and how they can help themselves feel better at home.
Oncologists usually work daytime hours, so their assistants do, as well. You will likely work a Monday through Friday workweek, but this isn’t always the case. Oncologists’ offices in larger cities, where there are more patients requiring care, may be open well into the evenings and even on weekends.
OphthalmologyAn ophthalmologist is a physician who has special education and experience in the medical and surgical treatment of the eyes. They are responsible for treating eye injuries and conditions, but they also help their patients prevent certain conditions, too. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in that they are licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery.
A medical assistant in an ophthalmologist’s office will play several unique roles. People of all ages come to see the eye doctor, typically once per year, so you will likely see the same faces time and again. During your career, some of the different duties you may perform include:
• Setting up patient appointments for eye examinations, whether to diagnose or treat an illness or to obtain corrective lenses.
• Keeping and updating patient charts with accurate, timely information.
• Speaking with optometrists about patients who have been referred to the ophthalmologist for conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or in some cases, even laser vision correction surgery.
• Administering drops to dilate patients’ eyes for certain tests and procedures.
• Contacting insurance companies or applying vision discounts as applicable.
• Helping patients choose the right corrective lenses for their unique needs.
• Keeping the office clean and well-stocked.
• Performing basic clerical tasks like answering phones, organizing charts, billing, coding, and more.
Ophthalmologists often work daytime hours, though they may be called to hospitals to see patients who have significant or potentially serious eye injuries. In these cases, the doctor typically does not require his assistant to accompany him. This means that you will work daytime hours through the typical workweek. In a few areas, particularly in larger cities, you might even work weekends or evening hours depending on the doctor.
Orthopedic SurgeryAn orthopedic surgeon is someone who surgically repairs diseases or injuries of the musculoskeletal system. They may also prescribe the use of corrective mechanical devices, including traction, to help stabilize bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves, allowing them to heal.
If you choose to work as an orthopedic medical assistant, you will fare best if you have above-average knowledge of anatomy, particularly as it relates to the musculoskeletal system and even radiology. Some of the duties you will be asked to perform on a daily basis include:
• Performing basic clerical tasks like data entry, answering phones, billing, filing, and more.
• Greeting patients upon arrival and escorting them to exam rooms.
• Assisting in making patients comfortable as they wait to see the surgeon.
• Communicating with doctors and nurses about patient histories and medical records.
• Accompanying the surgeon into the exam room to help with implements, instruments, and exams.
• Helping patients schedule their surgeries, and talking to them about how to prepare and what they will need to expect in terms of recovery.
• Contacting pharmacies and medical supply stores to help patients with prescribed medicines and devices.
• Administering medicines as needed and as asked by the surgeon.
A medical assistant working for a surgeon may have unpredictable hours depending on his or her role. If your role is primarily clinical in nature, the surgeon may ask you to accompany him to the hospital when he sees his pre- and post-surgical patients. However, if your duties are mostly administrative in nature, you may only work daytime hours through the week.
OtolaryngologyAn otolaryngologist is more commonly known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT. Patients are often referred to an otolaryngologist by their primary care physicians or, in some cases, by their allergists, when they experience ongoing problems with their ears, tonsils, sinuses, and other related systems.
Working as a medical assistant for an otolaryngologist requires specialized knowledge of this area of anatomy. Some knowledge of radiology is also a plus, since you may be called upon for diagnostic imaging from time to time. Duties you will perform regularly in this setting include:
• Greeting patients upon arrival and showing them to exam rooms.
• Verifying insurance information.
• Speaking with primary care physicians’ offices regularly to schedule new patients upon referral.
• Performing basic care, including taking vital signs and examining the inner ear, throat, and nose for signs of infection or irritation.
• Assisting the doctor with in-office procedures and examinations.
• Discussing diagnoses and intended treatment plans with patients and their caregivers.
• Administering medications topically, orally, or by injection under the supervision of the physician.
• Scheduling surgeries on behalf of patients.
An otolaryngology medical assistant works through the week during daytime hours. In a few very rare cases, you may be asked to travel to smaller towns on occasion to see patients there. It is a fairly predictable work environment and one that many MAs find rewarding.
Pain ManagementA pain management physician is a doctor who specializes in helping patients with chronic pain due to injury or illness. They combine therapies such as physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and prescription pain medications to create unique treatment plans for their patients.
As a medical assistant working in a pain management clinic, you will do well to understand the various types of therapies prescribed to patients who deal with chronic pain, and you should also understand the variety of medications – including narcotics – that are given to patients to help them manage it. The duties you will perform on a daily basis include:
• Answering telephones and performing basic clerical duties, particularly when it comes to scheduling new patients through physician referrals.
• Greeting patients, taking their vital signs, and getting their medical histories.
• Maintaining accurate medical records to help physicians create the best possible treatment plans.
• Assisting the doctor with examinations as needed.
• Administering pain medications under the supervision of the doctor.
• Discussing treatment plans with the patient, including why those particular plans were chosen and any side effects that may result as the use of certain medicines.
• Tracking patient progress and remaining vigilant when it comes to drug-seeking behaviors.
Medical assistants working in pain management clinics find their work very fulfilling. The ability to help patients manage their pain can change their entire lives. This work environment is also predictable; pain management clinics are open Monday through Friday during daytime hours, though they may also be open on Saturdays if the clinic is in a larger city and has many patients.
PediatricsA pediatrician is a doctor who monitors and treats children. This individual is responsible for monitoring a child’s progress in terms of growth and development, and he or she will also provide immunizations, recommendations for nutrition, and other things that ensure a child’s overall wellbeing.
If you are interested in working in a pediatrician’s office, you’ll need to be able to work well with infants and children of all ages. An advanced understanding of childhood growth and development is also particularly useful. Tasks that you will perform on a daily basis include the following:
• Greeting patients upon entering the facility.
• Taking children’s vital signs and getting medical histories from parents, where needed.
• Talking to parents about their child’s development and overall health, including any concerns that parents may have.
• Taking accurate notes and translating those into patient charts to keep accurate records.
• Assisting the physician with medical examinations and wellness checks as required.
• Administering immunizations and medications under the direction of the doctor.
• Collecting stool, urine, blood, and other samples for the laboratory.
• Getting test results from the laboratory and documenting them in patient charts.
• Making telephone calls or mailing letters to parents to remind them of upcoming wellness checks.
If you enjoy working with children, then a job as a medical assistant for a pediatrician is always a great choice. Most of the time, these individuals work traditional daytime hours, but a few weekends and evenings are not out of the question, especially if you work in a very large practice.
Plastic SurgeryA plastic surgeon is a physician who performs cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, but he or she also performs minimally invasive or non-invasive procedures, as well. These individuals work with a variety of patients to ensure their overall health, and in some cases, they may even refer their patients for psychiatric evaluation before agreeing to perform drastic surgeries.
As a medical assistant in a plastic surgeon’s office, some knowledge of how reconstructive and cosmetic surgery works is beneficial. You should also have advanced knowledge of things like implants and collagen injections, as these are also performed by plastic surgeons on an outpatient basis. Some of the tasks you will be asked to perform include:
• Clerical tasks such as filing paperwork, filling out patient charts, answering telephones, and billing.
• Taking patient vital signs and medical histories prior to their examinations.
• Talking with patients to understand their overall desires and reasons for wanting plastic surgery.
• Taking notes while in an exam room with the patient and doctor for later review.
• Contacting insurance companies to verify coverage for reconstructive surgery, or working out billing arrangements with patients who want cosmetic surgery that is not covered under their health insurance plans.
• Discussing procedures with patients, including what they should expect as far as recovery is concerned.
• Following up with the patient’s post-surgery to check on their health and wellbeing.
Plastic surgeons wield the power to completely transform lives, so working as an MA for a plastic surgeon is a very rewarding career choice. It’s also quite predictable as far as scheduling is concerned; you will work Monday through Friday during daytime hours.
PodiatryA podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in treating conditions and injuries related to the feet. This includes everything from the treatment of diabetic ulcers to severe bunions that are impacting patients’ quality of life. Although some podiatrists do allow patients to schedule themselves, others rely upon referrals from doctors who are in the same healthcare network.
As a medical assistant for a podiatrist, advanced knowledge of the anatomy of the human foot is beneficial. What’s more, you should also understand the variety of conditions that people commonly experience. The duties you will perform regularly include:
• Scheduling new patients, especially through referrals from their primary care physicians.
• Taking vital signs and medical histories from patients before they see the podiatrist.
• Talking to patients about their chief complaints and documenting these in the patients’ charts.
• Assisting the podiatrist with examinations and diagnoses where required.
• Administering medications orally, topically, or via injection under the supervision of the doctor.
• Discussing recommended surgical procedures with patients as necessary, and helping them understand post-surgical care and recovery expectations.
Podiatry is one of the more predictable specializations as emergencies related to the care of the feet are very rare. As such, you can expect to work very flexible daytime hours with very few evenings or weekends.
Primary Care Offices and ClinicsA primary care physician is often a patient’s first point of contact within his or her healthcare network, regardless of his or her medical needs. When patients need physical examinations for work, when they have the flu, or even when they have chronic medical conditions, their primary care doctors are first in line to treat them.
A medical assistant working in a primary care office or clinic should have basic knowledge of the human anatomy, the various common conditions that affect children and adults alike, and a very polite bedside manner. The tasks you will likely perform each day as an MA include:
• Clerical tasks like answering phones, scheduling patient appointments, recordkeeping, billing, coding, and more.
• Greeting patients and escorting them to exam rooms prior to seeing the doctor.
• Providing masks and other equipment to prevent the spread of the flu, a cold, or other potentially communicable diseases.
• Talking to parents, caregivers, and powers of attorney regarding the health of their loved ones, particularly when treating the very young or the very old.
• Discussing symptoms and proposed treatments with patients.
• Contacting specialists as required to help patients get the best possible care for their ailments or conditions.
Primary care offices and clinics may be open a variety of hours. In most cases, they’re open through the week during the day, but in larger cities, they are increasingly staying open through the late evening or even on Saturday and Sunday. As a result, your work hours could vary.
PsychiatryA psychiatrist is a physician who diagnoses and treats a variety of mental health issues. These individuals often work with patients of all ages who are coping with things like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders, to name a few.
As a medical assistant working at a physiatrist’s office or inpatient facility, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the most prevalent mental health issues that people experience. Some of the tasks you may be called upon to perform each day include the following:
• Scheduling appointments and sending reminders.
• Taking referrals from primary care physicians and others specialists who feel that a psychiatric evaluation is beneficial to the patient.
• Taking medical histories and vital signs.
• Asking patients about any medications they take, as many psychiatric medicines will interact with common prescription medications.
• Assisting the psychiatrist with certain treatments.
• Contacting inpatient facilities to set up advanced treatment for patients when needed.
• Discussing diagnoses and treatment plans with patients alongside the physician.
• Basic clerical tasks which include filing paperwork like insurance claims or updating patient charts.
Your hours and schedule will depend primarily on the facility in which you work. If you work in a psychiatrist’s office, your hours will be quite predictable. On the other hand, if you work in an inpatient facility, you may be asked to work overnights, weekends, and even holidays. Nonetheless, MAs who are especially interested in the human psyche and medical disorders will enjoy their careers.
PulmonologyA pulmonologist is an individual who specializes in the treatment of lung conditions and diseases. It’s an internal medicine subspecialty, which means most of the patients a pulmonologist sees are referred by their primary care physicians. They diagnose and treat conditions including asthma, emphysema, and even tuberculosis.
A medical assistant working in pulmonology should have advanced understanding of the human lungs and how they work. This will facilitate better patient care and more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Some of the tasks you will perform daily include:
• Clerical tasks like answering phones, filling out insurance claim forms, updating patient charts, sending billing information, and more.
• Patient intake, especially through referrals from primary care physicians.
• Greeting patients and taking their medical histories and vital signs prior to seeing the pulmonologist.
• Administering diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and MRIs, and assisting with reading the results.
• Administering a variety of treatments which may include inhaled medications through nebulizers, oral medicines, or even injections under the supervision of the doctor.
• Discussing short-term and long-term treatment plans with patients, including their medications and any side effects to be expected.
• Tracking patient progress to better help the pulmonologist make changes to treatment plans when necessary.
Many pulmonologists work in their own practices or in clinics, and in this case, you will work mainly daytime hours with very few, if any, nights or weekends. However, some pulmonologists work in hospitals and other inpatient facilities like nursing homes. In these cases, you may be called upon to work nights, weekends, or even holidays.
RadiologyA radiologist is a specialist who specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries or other conditions through the use of diagnostic imaging. This includes x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, nuclear medicine, and more. These individuals have advanced knowledge of radiation and how it affects the body, as well.
As a medical assistant working in the radiology field, advanced knowledge of how these diagnostic machines work will serve you well. What’s more, you should also be familiar with radiation and how it can affect people exposed to it. Some of the tasks you will perform daily include:
• Preparing patients for diagnostic imaging, which may involve administering barium or other agents that allow clearer images.
• Shielding patients from radiation with lead vests when needed.
• Talking to patients about procedures and how they work, answering questions, and obtaining patient permission to begin.
• Interpreting physicians’ orders and providing diagnostic imaging according to those orders.
• Performing fluoroscopy in some cases, which is ongoing x-ray that is recorded as video rather than as a photo.
• Placing nasoenteric or oroenteric feeding tubes alongside the radiologist.
• Assisting in the interpretation of test results and patient diagnoses.
• Working with the radiologist to come up with a recommended treatment plan.
• Updating patient charts with information and images.
• Performing basic clerical tasks such as answering phones, filing insurance claims, billing, coding, and more.
Radiologists may work very long hours depending on patient load. Oftentimes, they work in hospitals and other inpatient clinics because their services are in high demand following traumas and other injuries. As a radiologic medical assistant, you may work days or nights, and you might also be called upon to work weekends or holidays as required.
RheumatologyA rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating rheumatoid arthritis as well as other diseases of the bones, joints and muscles. He or she may work with patients of all ages, including children, to diagnose both very common and very rare disorders.
A medical assistant working under a rheumatologist should have a firm understanding of a variety of conditions, particularly autoimmune conditions, that can affect the bones, joints, and muscles. You should also understand the various treatments, including medications, used to help these patients. Your daily tasks will include:
• Preparing patients for treatment and examination by the rheumatologist.
• Measuring height, weight, and vital signs.
• Performing venipuncture for blood draws and laboratory tests.
• Performing vision and hearing screenings as requested by the doctor.
• Administering treatments and medications according to the rheumatologist’s orders.
• Contacting pharmacies to fill prescriptions.
• Removing sutures and applying dressings.
• Working with the healthcare team and the patient to maintain and support long-term care plans for patients who have chronic conditions.
• Performing basic clerical duties including answering phones, filing paperwork, contacting insurance companies, and more.
A medical assistant working for a rheumatologist will work with patients of all ages and with a variety of conditions, which makes this job unique. Due to the nature of a rheumatologist’s work, most MAs working in this field will work daytime hours through the week with very few nights and weekends, if any at all.
Speech Therapy and AudiologySpeech therapists and audiologists work with people of all ages who have conditions that affect their ability to speak or hear. They are responsible for gauging patients’ hearing levels and providing the right form of correction, and they also work directly with patients to help them learn to communicate with others.
A medical assistant in this field may be referred to as an audiology assistant, though they often do far more. Special knowledge of human speech and the workings of the auditory system are especially helpful in this line of work. You may be asked to perform some or all of the following duties:
• Keeping up with basic office and clerical duties such as restocking supplies, answering phones, scheduling appointments, filling out claim forms, contacting patients with reminders for appointments or billing, and more.
• Cleaning and maintaining equipment where appropriate.
• Preparing patients for their treatments, tests, or examinations, which includes taking vital signs and explaining what they should expect during such tests.
• Repairing and recalibrating hearing aids where required.
• Providing neonatal testing when called upon by an obstetrician to do so.
• Providing assistance with a variety of hearing tests for diagnostic purposes.
• Helping with speech therapy sessions when called upon.
Speech therapy and audiology is a very rewarding field, particularly when you are part of a team who helps someone hear for the first time or learn to communicate with loved ones. Because of the nature of this specialty, your job hours will likely be daytime only with no required nights or weekends.
UrologyA urologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the urinary tract. He or she is also responsible for diagnosing and treating conditions and disorders involving the male reproductive system. They are responsible for treating conditions of the kidneys, bladder, adrenal glands, penis, prostate, and testes.
As a urological medical assistant (also known as a urology assistant), advanced knowledge of the urinary and male reproductive systems is vital. This will help you become a better asset to the healthcare team and deliver high-quality care to patients. Some of the duties you will perform daily include:
• Performing basic clerical tasks and office upkeep, which includes answering phones, filing paperwork, and maintaining patient charts.
• Performing tests like urinalysis, blood tests, and x-rays where required.
• Addressing patient questions or concerns regarding diagnoses, tests, or proposed treatment plans.
• Taking patient vital signs and medical histories.
• Discussing post-surgical care with patients, including the side effects to be expected from prescribed medications.
• Assisting in pain management following surgery or during certain conditions, such as the passing of kidney stones.
• Retrieving laboratory test results and accurately documenting them in patient charts.
Urology assistants will usually work during the daytime hours only, Monday through Friday. In some larger cities and under larger patient loads, urology offices may remain open on Saturdays or into the evening hours to better facilitate patient care.
ConclusionAs you can see, the role of a medical assistant can differ significantly based on the specialty you choose. You can work as a medical assistant in a variety of specialized practices that suit your area of expertise and your own personal interests. This allows you to fine-tune your occupation in such a way that you feel fulfilled and rewarded each and every day.