In this article, we will examine what the duties are for a medical assistant so that you can get a strong grasp for what the everyday routine is like for MAs across the country. We’ll not only discuss the things a medical assistant is required to do on the administrative and clinical side, but we’ll also go into a little bit of detail of what medical assistants aren’t allowed to do based solely on their scope of practice.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
First, let’s get into the typical administrative tasks you can expect to be asked to do as part of your job description:
- Answer phones
- Schedule appointments
- Follow up with your patients
- Update a patient’s medical history
- Document in Electronic Health Record, provided you are a certified medical assistant
- Contact insurance companies by phone
And here are some clinical duties of a medical assistant:
- Draw blood from patients
- Arrange laboratory services
- Perform a basic lab test
- Change a patient’s dressing and/or remove sutures
Now, let’s move onto what exactly EHR is, and how it might impact your day to day workload on the job.
What is Electronic Health Record?
We mentioned EHR above earlier, but now is a good time to explain what it is. Electronic Health Record is essentially a digital version of medical records and history that used to typically be held in a physician’s office in paper form.
EHR is not only convenient because we live in a digital world, but because this digitized record is capable of being accessed by different organizations and healthcare providers. And in order to use EHR, a medical assistant is now required to be certified. At least, to do certain things inside EHR.
In fact, in January of 2013, the CMS ruled that only certified (or registered) medical assistants could enter radiology, laboratory, or medication orders into the CPOE system for meaningful use purposes for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.
This is very important information. Why? Because you will be competing for key jobs with your peers who have sought or are currently seeking medical assistant certification. And while we won’t go into that entire process in this particular article, what’s important to remember here is that anyone seeking certification will need to have graduated from an accredited medical assistant program.
If you’re unable to do that, you will be unable to acquire certification. And this means that you may be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to being hired by an employer.
That’s because employers are beginning to use and implement Electronic Health Record. And from their point of view, it doesn’t make much sense to hire a medical assistant who isn’t certified if the job description calls for documenting in EHR.
What a Medical Assistant Cannot Do
There are of course many things that a medical assistant is unable to do simply because it’s beyond their training and scope. And in fact, what’s unique about the medical assistant profession is that some things you sometimes feel you’re able to do in one region of the country, you’re not allowed to do in another region.
Nevada, for example, is a great example. In Nevada, medical assistants for the past several years have now been given the all clear to give all kinds of shots to patients. But this wasn’t the case before 2009.
Now, thanks to the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, medical assistants in Sin City and all throughout Nevada can give patients a shot for everything from the flu to Botox injections.
Ultimately, once you are hired, it will be made clear to you what you can and cannot do. Just always remember to be honest when it comes to your resume and your certification status. A lot of employers dislike the fact that medical assistants consider themselves to be “certified” when they are not, giving off the impression that they’re capable of documenting medication orders in Electronic Health Record—when that’s really not the case.
You must understand that saying you are certified on your resume, when you’re really not, is a huge red flag. It makes the applicant appear ignorant of what “certified” means, or even worse, makes it seem as if you are intentionally lying in an effort to get ahead of other potential job applicants.
Also note, too, that employers can verify your credentialed status on websites like the AAMA, so thinking that you can lie (or claim blissful ignorance) your way into a job just isn’t realistic.
Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand the daily responsibilities of a medical assistant, giving you a healthier understanding of just what they do all day. And why it’s no doubt a lot of work, it’s a rewarding job that is unique in the fact that it gives you the opportunity to do both desk and clinical duties.
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