Pediatric Medical Assistants, also known as (PMA’s), are like other traditional medical assistants that helps assist doctors and/or Nurse Practitioners with certain duties within the clinics. An ideal candidate for this particular department are individuals with a polished, professional attitudes, ones that possess excellent people skills, compassion for children, a strong work ethic and who support the mission statement on providing excellent care.

But what do pediatric medical assistants do everyday?  What are their daily duties and responsibilities?  We’re going answer these questions in-depth in today’s article.

Pediatric Medical Assistant Duties

Pediatric Medical Assistants specifically works along with, well, Pediatricians.  This is a job and career path that, by and large, provides care to newborns.

Pediatrics is the branch of medicine that focuses on the care and health of children from a newborn (birth to 1 ½ month), Infants (2 months- 1 year), Toddlers (1 year to 3 years) Pre-Schoolers ( 3-5 years), Middle Childhood( 6 – 11 years) and Teenagers (12-17 years). Once an individual reach the age of 18 they’re no longer accepted into pediatrics offices and will need to find a Primary Care Provider (PCP).

From annual wellness visits to uncovering medical problems, pediatricians are important figures in the healthcare industry. Traditionally, PMA’s are employed at clinics in the community or small private owned facilities. PMA can be employed at hospitals, but will have to be certified. CHOA located in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the few hospitals that employ PMA’s.

Primary Duties

There are (2) two types of Pediatric Medical Assistants that are essential for the daily office, running to maintain patient flow and a well-established environment from the time of opening until the closing of the office: the front office and back office assistants.

Tasks of Front and Back Office PMA’s

Front-Office Pediatric Assistant perform administrative duties and other secretarial tasks, such as:

  • Greets and provide excellent communication/customer service skills
  • Verify insurance from different insurance agencies(approved or denied)
  • Medical Billing and Coding on visit dates
  • Schedule Appointments such as medical procedures, follow-ups and routine visits.
  • Make reminder calls about next day or future appointments.
  • Check In/Check Out patients
  • Triage calls with Multi-line Telephones and give messages to appropriate person
  • Data Entry- updating patient’s addresses and numbers and registering information

Back-Office Pediatric Assistants perform clinical duties and minimum laboratory duties.

  • Collects patients history and chief complaint (what brings the patient in for today)
  • Collect Vital Signs, height/weight and including BMI, Hearing Testing, Snellen Chart
  • Perform blood draws (venipuncture and phlebotomy) and Administrating shots
  • Prepare exam rooms and prep the patient for procedures
  • Assist MD’s or NP’s with procedures

Training and Education

So, how long does it take to become a medical assistant? Well first off, medical assisting programs are available at many community colleges, universities, institutes and technical schools in the United States.

To obtain a certificate or diploma, the course only takes about 9 months to a year to complete, but you can also enroll in a (2) two year program to obtain an Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting.

At the end of the MA program you will need to complete an externship. Students are placed in a professional setting where they can gain valuable insight into what they can expect to experience within the field they have chosen. The externship is mandatory for both programs.

There are some slight differences between just obtaining a Medical Assisting Certificate/Diploma and an Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting.

The differences are explained more thoroughly below:

Certificate/Diploma in Medical Assisting: The program is less than a year and you can also take administrative courses, but more clinical than administrative duties.

  • You can complete the program quicker
  • Less expensive than obtaining an Associate’s Degree
  • Subjects included in the program are broken down in modules
  • You do not have to take additional classes that you don’t need (languages, physics)
  • Tuition Cost: Varies by state and school

Associates Degree in Medical Assisting: More in-depth than a certificate program. You’ll be required to take general more courses in administrative and languages.

  • Stay in school longer mainly technical colleges and universities
  • Much more expensive than the certificate program
  • Can transfer credits to get your bachelors
  • Employers are more likely to choose a candidate due to extended time in the program
  • Tuition Cost: Varies by state and school

Additional Information

After completing the Medical Assisting Program from any accredited institutes you will be giving the opportunity to become a Certified Medical Assistant instead just a Medical Assistant. Though it’s not a state or federal requirement most healthcare employers would like their potential candidates or established employees to be certified due to medical liability and plus you may be offered a higher salary.

Your school may pay for the certification the first go around. The following most common National Certifications for Medical Assistants Websites are listed:

NHANational Health Career Association

AAMAAmerican Association of Medical Assistants

NCCANational Center for Competency Testing

Qualities & Traits

Working in Pediatrics may be a little different than other specialties due to the fact that you’re working with infants, toddlers and middle years children that might not understand the concepts for getting routine check-ups.

That’s why it’s important to have excellent qualities and traits. Having patience, being compassionate about what you do and being a mature individual are qualities that you should have because not only you’re assisting and caring for children you have to deal with the parents, grandparents and/or guardian.

So, as Pediatric Medical Assistant, you should have all the excellent traits and qualities to provide superior results. Below are some good and bad qualities that PMA’s should and shouldn’t possess, respectively.

Good Traits of a Pediatric Medial Assistant

  • Great Communication Skills (The ability to communicate clearly)
  • Outstanding Customer Service (Going out and beyond patient expectations)
  • Compassionate (Happiness and Understanding)
  • Punctual (Always on time and on point)
  • Reliable (Can do tasks without being told to do so)
  • Empathy (Understand the concerns that an individual is having)
  • Driven (Being under compulsion, to achieve something)
  • Team Player (Can work well with others)
  • Dependable (Reliable, can count on)
  • Honest (Being truth-ful)
  • Organized (Neat, everything is in place)

Bad Traits of a Pediatric Medial Assistant

  • Rudeness (Not being polite to an individual)
  • Aggressiveness (To attack or confront, impolite)
  • Dishonest (Not telling the truth, hiding something)
  • Judgmental (Excessive critical point of view; in other words judging someone or something)
  • Unreliable (Not able to be relied upon)
  • Mean (Being rude or saying having hateful conversations)
  • Uncooperative (Not listening to commands)
  • Snobbish (Think you are better than other people)
  • Moody (Having a bad day, not in a happy mood, gloominess)
  • Careless (Not careful about things or misplace)

Salary and Hourly Wages

The hourly salary of a medical assistant varies differently within the United States and some healthcare employers may rely off previous experiences with specialties, years in the healthcare field, skills, education and volunteering experiences, but do not get discouraged over these qualifications.  If you just completed a Medical Assisting program having externship experience with great references from professional individuals, a passion to care for others can help you obtain the job that you’re seeking.

Remember, to stay focused and think positive throughout the whole process.

The estimated hourly wage for an entry-level Pediatric Medical Assistant will be around $11.00- $12.00 averaging around a $28,000 to $29,000 yearly salary. If you have over 8+ years of experience and additional courses for continuing education your hourly wage can range from $17.00 to $20.00. Remember, every state and healthcare institutes has different pay summaries and cost of living plays a role as well.

The 2014-2016 statistics shows that Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida hourly wages are $11.00-$14.00 with a $27,000-$31,000 yearly salary. However, some upper North East states such as New York, Vermont and Connecticut has an hourly rate that’s from $16.00- $24.00 and Texas, California and Alaska hourly wage can range from $16.00-$26.00 due to the cost of living and specific specialties.

To better break down the “cost of living” it’s basically the price of goods and services required for maintaining an average level standard of living.

Skills and Documentation

As a Clinical Pediatric Medical Assistant and/or Front Office Pediatric Medical Assistant you must know how to perform duties that you were taught in school and execute the tasks. You will also need to apply your medical terminology skills especially if you work with Pediatricians that only uses abbreviated words and symbols.

When the Clinical PMA uses the Snellen Chart- which is an eye chart that is used to measure visual acuity or how well an individual sees; they will need to abbreviate some words for the attending pediatrician.

For an example, let’s say an 11-year-old female patient came into the office for an eye check. You will document the patient name, date of birth and time. If both of the patient eyes were checked and did not have any difficulties recognizing the numbers, you’ll put OU with a 20/20 reading. This will help pediatricians understand the results better. The real term for (OU) means both eyes.

The reasoning behind medical terminology is very important because it’s the medical field language that is understood by healthcare professionals; to communicate with each other on how to treat a patient that comes in to the emergency department and/or clinics.

Without proper training and knowledge with the medical terminology, the communication between healthcare workers may get confusing and the patient might not get the proper treatment at the end and can result in poor patient care.