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A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant

Posted Monday, Oct 21, 2019 by Altierus

Looking for a career path that keeps you on your toes and has good job growth prospects? Consider becoming a medical assistant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects national job openings for medical assistants will grow 23% over the 2018-2028 period—that’s more than four times as fast as the overall national job growth rate of 5% and much faster than the overall national healthcare job growth rate of 14%.[i]

Another advantage of the medical assistant career path is that you don’t have to invest years in a training program. At Altierus Career College, our medical assistant diploma program takes as few as 10 months to complete. In addition to hands-on training, our program includes exam preparation for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam.

So, what does a medical assistant do all day? Their tasks span the clinical and administrative, and while every day is different, here is an overview of what most medical assistants are likely to accomplish on a daily basis.

Starting the Shift

As of 2018, 57% of medical assistants worked in physicians’ offices.[ii] This means most medical assistants work a typical eight-hour office workday. Those who work in hospitals, urgent care clinics, and other facilities with extended hours may have different schedules.

Regardless of when the shift starts, medical assistants will spend the first part of it becoming familiar with the day’s appointments and preparing for the arrival of patients. They may:

  • Check phone, e-mail and postal mail messages for anything that requires urgent follow-up
  • Attend a team meeting to review the day’s scheduled appointments and any other business for the practice, clinic or department
  • Prepare rooms for the first appointments, ensuring all equipment and supplies are available to the doctors and nurses who will use them
  • Prepare any paperwork necessary for the day, such as referrals or insurance paperwork

Prime Time: Seeing Patients

When patients begin to arrive, the day becomes very busy. Many physicians’ offices and clinics see patients every 15 to 20 minutes. While the clinical duties a medical assistant can carry out will vary depending on the practice they work for and the laws of the state they practice in, typical duties include:

  • Welcoming patients and directing them to their appointment rooms
  • Taking a patient’s height and weight, and sometimes other vital signs such as temperature or blood pressure
  • If necessary, helping the patient change into an exam robe
  • Collecting any samples, such as blood or urine, and packaging them for processing at a lab
  • Carrying out or assisting with routine procedures such as removing sutures, changing wound dressings, administering certain types of injections or medication, and more
  • Cleaning and re-stocking exam rooms between patients
  • Entering appointment data into a clinic’s electronic health records (EHR) system
  • Processing prescription requests
  • Calling in patient referrals to other providers

Depending on how many administrative staff work at the practice, medical assistants may also have additional duties such as answering phones, typing up correspondence, and completing other medical office tasks.

At the End of the Day

A medical assistant’s day does not end after the last patient has gone. Routine end-of-day or end-of-shift tasks may include:

  • Completing EHR data entry
  • Cleaning exam rooms and sterilizing any reusable equipment
  • Arranging for lab sample pickup
  • Forwarding results of any tests to doctors and providers
  • Restocking exam room supplies, taking inventory, and putting in orders if necessary
  • Making any final phone calls regarding referrals, insurance issues, prescription refills or patient appointments

Medical assistants who work in facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, may also check in with the medical assistant on the next shift to provide an update about what happened in the department that day, what appointments the new shift has, and any other outstanding issues.

Training for Medical Assistant Careers

As you can see, a medical assistant’s day is busy and draws on capabilities ranging from organizational skills to clinical skills. If this sounds like a career path that interests you, Altierus Career College offers a 10-month Medical Assistant diploma program that is available at all three of our campuses. Find out more about this program and how to apply – contact us today!

Additional references:


[i] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-6

[ii] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-3

Train for a career as a Medical Assistant

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