Certified Medical Assistants


become a medical assistant - I can do this

Enter Zip Code:
Type: Online Campus Both


Vocational training in your area

Medical Assistant Responsibilities

The responsibilities of medical assistants may vary from state to state, facility to facility and office to office. Various states have specific statues that deal with medical assistant responsibilities and issues, however, one thing that remains constant is that medical assistant's duties and responsibilities will evolve and change over the course of time as the medical practice grows and laws change.




Front Desk Duties of a Medical Assistant

As a medical assistant working the front desk for a doctor's office, or medical center, you will be required to pull and file medical records and patient charts, register each new patient, and verify their address, insurance plan, and any other demographics of existing patients have not changed as the arrive for further appointments. The registration includes, but is not limited to, patient completing insurance documentation, medical history information, health care proxy, known allergies information forms, and medical disclaimers.  A medical assistant should be able to communicate and explained in detail each of the forms and their requirements with the patient.  As with anything, the more the medical assistant is familiar with the content and legal requirements of each of these documents, the more he or she is better able to serve the patient and the employer.

Clinical Back Office Duties

The clinical medical assistant's back office duties will always include preparing patients to be seen by the doctor, explaining upcoming medical and diagnostic procedures and rooming patients, taking their vital signs, preparing and positioning them for their exams, setting up instrument trays, monitoring screening and therapeutic devices, assisting during examinations, maintaining equipment, answering phones, calling in prescriptions to the pharmacy and administering medications as ordered by the doctor. Proper medical office practice dictates that a medical assistant remains with a patient that has just received any form of medication, undergone allergy testing, is acutely ill, has seizures, pain, bleeding, or fainted to observe, monitor and minimize trauma to the patient. These incidents and the outcome must be charted in the patient's medical record and initialed by the supervising physician.

On 04/29/2008 Illy (CMA) shared the following with us:
"Medical assistants are very vital to a clinic or hospital. We do it ALL. I room up to 30 patients a day by myself. When I am not rooming, I am helping the receptionist answer multiple phone lines, medical records, faxing prescriptions, filing, preparing charts for future appointments..."

My list is long:

  • Maintain patient’s safe passage in and out of the clinic, and ancillary services
  • Greet, assess and interview patients
  • File paperwork, lab slips, and insurance information into the medical charts
  • Obtain past medical and surgical history, family history, social history, vital signs
  • Review present medications, allergy history, chief complaint, and brief interrogation of complaint
  • Act as a liaison between doctor and patient
  • Explain medication, side effects, treatments, diets, diseases and disease processes
  • Update medication list and current problem list
  • Prepare and assist patients for examination, treatment, or procedure by medical staff
  • Anticipate needs of patients, and the doctor under whom I work
  • Monitor of patient during examination, or procedure
  • Maintain and update level of skill for pertinent medical assistant duties
  • Maintain patient care areas
  • Stocking and ordering of supplies as needed
  • Charge and code supplies, medications, and procedures
  • Respond to patient’s concerns in person or by telephone while simultaneously documenting the problem
  • Maintain patient confidentiality
  • Participate in training and skills development of new medical assistants

Medical Assistants Administering Allergy Tests

Although allergy testing techniques are quite safe, when it comes to sensitive patients trouble can follow very quickly. A medical assistant is not qualified, nor legally permitted, to administer allergy testing without a doctor physically present in the office. There may be offices in the same building with doctors on call, still, because of the inherent risk of severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis, and the remote chance that a patient is given the wrong dose, trying to locate a doctor in the building NOT sufficient and a recipe for serious consequences. Having the allergist there to intervene in an emergency is a MUST and the law when medical assistants perform the procedure.

Medical Assistants Administering Controlled Substances

Wherever controlled substances are used in a medical office, or facility, medical assistants can only administer such drugs under a physician’s direct order, control and supervision, and only where not specifically prohibited by state legislation. Direct supervision requires the physical presence of the supervising doctor in the office before, during, and after the administration and includes the diagnosis, authorization and evaluation of the patient. Any other use and means is illegal and will be taken very seriously, with very SERIOUS consequences if something should go wrong. It has been asked whether a medical assistant can be entrusted with the key to the controlled substances locker. This decision is left up to the discretion of the supervising physician. Read: Medical Assistant Scope of Practice.