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What is Medical Assisting?

Updated on February 14, 2012
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Medical Assisting

Medical assisting is very similar to nursing. A medical assistant is most likely the person who calls your name at the doctor’s office to go back to the room. They will greet you and ask how you are feeling. Medical assisting is a job that requires compassionate, friendly service. Many times patients are very ill and feeling poorly. A kind medical assistant can make all the difference. A medical assistant will usually take your blood pressure, temperature and weight. Once you are in your room a medical assistant will ask you what brings you to the office. They will take down any symptoms related to illness or other important information and enter it into a computer in the room. Then, they will ask you to wait for the doctor and leave the room with your chart. They will hang your chart just outside the door and have some sort of notification system to let the doctor know you are waiting. The systems vary for each office. Some are colored tabs or simply a chart outside the door.

A medical assistant will sometimes be in the room with the doctor during your visit. Sometimes, the doctor will ask the assistant to go find out certain information or grab a needed item. If a gynecological exam is part of your visit a medical assistant will simply stand in the room for liability reasons. Often medical assisting will require helping with particular surgical assisting- handing the doctor needed tools or gauze during stitches etc. Medical assisting will sometimes include calling prescriptions in to pharmacies for the doctors. This requires knowledge of medications and the special codes for directions. Medical assistants will also call patients to let them know results from testing. Medical assisting is indeed a form of nursing. In fact, many medical assistants are called nurses. Many of them do nearly all the same responsibilities as registered nurses including giving shots, removing stitches and medication administration. They, however, have less schooling than LPN’s or RN’s. Schooling to qualify for certification for medical assisting assures a better wage than if you are trained on the job and are uncertified.

My sister enjoyed being a medical assistant for nearly 20 years. I have often called her for advice about when to take a sick child in, or to come over and look at an injury or listen to lungs to see if we should go into the doctor. Maybe her experience is out of the ordinary, but she has assisted in delivering babies, helped to give treadmill tests for heart patients, assisted with (in office) surgical procedures, and done many things I thought only nurses did. She loves medical assisting and if these things sound interesting to you, you may too!

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