5 Types of Medical Assistant Specialities
A career in the healthcare industry offers a multitude of opportunities for growth and development. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the healthcare field will be among the fastest-growing occupations in the next decade.
Medical assisting is one of the allied healthcare jobs that will see the most demand, with an 18% growth projection from 2020 to 2030. Thanks to their educational background, ongoing training opportunities, and experience, these professionals have the chance to explore a host of different specialties, from general medicine to surgery and from pediatric care to senior care.
Different Types of Medical Assistant Jobs
Medical assistants have administrative and clinical roles to fulfill, making them a critical part of any medical team. For those who wish to know how to get a medical assisting diploma but don’t know what specializations they should seek, here’s a quick guide:
- Medical Administrative Office Assistant
Most medical clinics want to provide their patients with the best experience possible, but there is often a gap in handling administrative tasks. Medical doctors are simply not trained to manage non-medical tasks, which are still a critical part of their operations.
This gap is where medical administrative office assistants come in. Their medical training and clerical background can assist doctors and patients through the processes of scheduling, appointment tracking, insurance filing and claiming, and updating patient records. Medical administrative assistants are a valuable part of medical office teams, enabling medical facilities and doctor’s offices to be productive businesses as they provide a seamless patient experience.
Some of the responsibilities of a medical administrative office assistant include:
- Taking phone calls
- Handling appointment scheduling
- Updating patient medical records
- Completing patient charts
- Ordering medical supplies
- Processing payments
- Managing billing and insurance concerns
- Clinical Medical Assistant
While many medical assistants are trained to deal with administrative tasks, some lean more towards patient care. Clinical medical assistants often have direct interaction with patients, including getting their medical history and preparing them before the doctor sees them. The roles of clinical medical assistants vary by state but they generally include:
- Taking medical histories
- Getting vital signs
- Assisting in medical procedures
- Administering vaccinations
- Changing wound dressings
- Surgical Medical Assistant
Surgical assistants provide pre- and post-operative patient care, including checking the patient’s vital signs, applying dressings, sterilizing the operation site, and inserting intravenous lines and tubes.
On top of having good interpersonal and communication skills, surgical assistants are also expected to know basic medical tasks and have a working knowledge of different surgical tools and their functionalities.
During surgery, they must know how to keep the operating field sterile, ensure supplies, tools, and surgical equipment are available and disinfected; apply clips, sutures, and staples to control bleeding, and adjust operating room temperature and general conditions according to the surgeon’s preference.
- Cardiology Medical Assistant
Medical assistants can also choose to specialize in cardiology if they are interested to learn more about the different heart diseases and abnormalities. As part of their core roles and responsibilities, they will handle cardiac imaging, cardiac stress tests, and bloodwork. To perform their job, they must be familiar with operating different kinds of medical equipment, such as an electrocardiogram machine.
Keep in mind that some cardiologists prefer working with medical assistants who have hands-on training and experience.
- Phlebotomist Medical Assistant
Phlebotomist medical assistants have a specialized role in medical clinics. Since most doctors request lab work when making diagnoses, they need the help of phlebotomists who can draw blood samples for them. As part of their roles, these medical assistants must:
- Put patients at ease before drawing blood
- Accurately label specimens before sending them to a medical laboratory
- Sanitize equipment and follow infection control protocols
- Prepare and ship samples to partner laboratories
- Prevent sample contamination
Phlebotomist medical assistants are more flexible when it comes to choosing the clinics they can work in. They can choose to work in surgical or cardiology clinics, and can also work with patients of all ages.
As the healthcare industry enjoys a boom in the coming years, demand for support workers, such as medical assistants, will remain high.
Find out how you can get a medical assisting diploma here.
If you want to know more about the different healthcare careers, explore our programs page.
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