What Are The Different Types Of Medical Assistants?

"I have been interested in becoming some kind of medical worker for some time now, but I don’t think I’m up for nursing school or something else that would take that long. Plus, the programs where I am located are hard to get into. I heard though that medical assistants are in high demand and it’s easier to become one. What does a medical assistant do, and are there different types of medical assisting jobs?"

asked by Bonnie from Providence, RI

It is indeed easier to become a medical assistant. You only need a few medical courses to qualify. As a medical assistant, you provide support to physicians and nurses in hospitals, clinics, and other medical workplaces. This is not a high-earning position, but it can be a good transitional career if you are hoping to go back to school later for nursing or another medical profession.

There are several different types of medical assistants. They are:

Clinical Medical Assistant

This type of medical assistant focuses on providing patient care. You might take patient histories and prepare medical examinations as a clinical assistant, and even perform minor treatments. The job is similar to that of an LVN, but with less education required and a lower pay grade (though not by much). This is a great role if you want to actually be involved medical work directly.

Administrative Medical Assistant

This is a job which is clerical in nature. You might answer the phones, staff the desk at a clinic, and file patient records. You also would be responsible for scheduling appointments and possibly for accounting. This job, like the clinical role, involves direct contact with the public, so you have to enjoy working with others to excel at this role. If you do not want to work with patients in a medical capacity, just work in a medical setting, this could be a great match.

Specialized Medical Assistants

Some fields of medicine require assistants who have specific focuses, like oncology or podiatry. These workers often assist physicians in specialized clinics to conduct highly specialized tasks. On-the-job training is usually what is needed to develop these highly specific skills. You may find a higher pay grade with some of these specialized roles.

Medical assisting is not the most highly paid occupation, but it will likely provide you with steady work in the coming years, since the medical field is booming despite the economic turmoil of the past few years.

Additionally, it may help you to decide whether you want to pursue a career as a nurse, physician assistant, or another type of medical professional which requires more education and a greater investment of time and money. You may even make the professional connections that you need to advance in the field.

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