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Medical Assistant  What They Do

Just the Facts


Performs administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Health Informatics pathway, Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Records patients' medical history, vital statistics, or information such as test results in medical records.
  • Interviews patients to obtain medical information and measures their vital signs, weight, and height.
  • Prepares treatment rooms for patient examinations, keeping the rooms neat and clean.
  • Shows patients to examination rooms and prepares them for the physician.
  • Prepares and administers medications as directed by a physician.
  • Collects blood, tissue, or other laboratory specimens, logs the specimens, and prepares them for testing.
  • Authorizes drug refills and provides prescription information to pharmacies.
  • Explains treatment procedures, medications, diets, or physicians' instructions to patients.
  • Cleans and sterilizes instruments and disposes of contaminated supplies.
  • Performs routine laboratory tests and sample analyses.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



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Medical Assistants

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Certified Ophthalmic Technician (COT) -- Duties include acquiring health histories from patients, explaining how to use contact lenses, maintaining equipment, measuring vision, performing diagnostic examinations and providing eye medication.
  • Certified Phlebotomy Technician -- Collects and prepares blood samples for laboratory testing.
  • Medical Billing Coder -- Enters codes for patient care so that insurance companies can be billed for work a physician or other healthcare professional has performed.
  • Medical Office Assistant -- Provides administrative assistance to trained medical staff where basic medical terminology, billing and coding, handing electronic medical records, HIPAA requirements as well as general customer service is needed.
  • Ophthalmic Assistant -- Duties might include recording vision, applying eye dressage, testing eye muscles, performing diagnostic and vision tests, administering eye medications, and readying the surgical equipment.
  • Optometric Technician -- Performs administrative and clinical duties to prepare patients for eye examinations and vision therapy.
  • Phlebotomist -- Duties are to draw blood, label and transport the blood after it is withdrawn, and may also perform diagnostic tests on the blood and help interpret the results.
  • Physician's Aide -- Provides diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive healthcare services under the supervision of a medical doctor.
  • Respiratory Therapist Assistant -- Duties might include maintaining and assembling respiratory equipment, transporting patients, updating charts and performing other clerical work.
  • Sterile Processing Technician -- Uses special devices to sterilize instruments and other operating room materials; transports surgical instruments, draping material, intravenous solutions and equipment into the operating room; and verifies that all operating room equipment functions prop