Medical Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: April 20, 2022

A Medical Assistant, or a Clinical Assistant, is responsible for assisting Doctors and Nurses in providing care to their patients. Their duties include recording and updating medical histories and contact information in patient files, scheduling patient appointments and performing standard care procedures like drawing blood, checking vitals or collecting lab samples.

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Medical Assistant duties and responsibilities

Medical Assistants rely on technical skills so they understand how to use equipment to take patient vital signs. They should also be detail-oriented, as they must enter all patient data accurately in their records so doctors and insurance companies can refer to them. Medical Assistants should also have interpersonal skills so they can work with patients who may be in pain.

Medical Assistants may perform the following duties:

  • Schedule appointments
  • Obtain blood samples
  • Perform data entry
  • Measure and record vital signs
  • Clean exam rooms
  • Answer phone calls
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What does a Medical Assistant do?

Medical Assistants typically work for hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities to perform administrative and clinical duties to support medical staff. They work closely with other healthcare professionals to communicate with patients and maintain patient confidentiality. Their job is to restock supplies in examination rooms, change bandages, remove stitches and perform physical examinations. They may also be responsible for accepting payment from patients and coordinating prescription refills for patients to pick up at their local pharmacy.

Medical Assistant skills and qualifications

A successful Medical Assistant candidate will know how to interact with patients and be able to get information from those who may be in distress. They should have a background in computers, chemistry, anatomy and biology. Candidates should be able to use analytical skills to understand medical diagnoses and follow medical charts. They must also understand medical codes.

Medical Assistants should have the following skills and qualifications:

  • Associate’s degree in a medical field
  • Pass a minimum of one exam from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies
  • 2+ years of working in the healthcare field
  • Strong verbal and written skills
  • Superior customer service skills
  • A high level of professionalism

Medical Assistant salary expectations

A Medical Assistant makes an average of $15.47 per hour. Pay rate may depend on the level of education, experience and geographical location. 

Medical Assistant education and training requirements

A successful Medical Assistant candidate should have a degree from a postsecondary schooling program. While this is not necessary for every employer, most of them strongly prefer candidates who have a degree. Medical Assistant programs are available at vocational schools, community colleges and technical schools. They take an average of one year to complete. Some employers may be willing to train Medical Assistants once they hire them, but candidates should have familiarity with the health and medical fields. At a minimum, candidates should have a high school diploma.

Medical Assistant experience requirements

Medical Assistants should have experience working in a related healthcare position. This helps them have exposure to medical terminology and other information that is necessary to know as a medical assistant. Having a background working with the public can also be helpful to prepare the candidate to work with a variety of people. Job shadowing can be helpful for those who are interested in this field.

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Frequently asked questions about Medical Assistants


What is the difference between a Medical Assistant and a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

Medical Assistants and Certified Nursing Assistants both assist healthcare professionals in providing standard care to their patients, but their professional requirements and job responsibilities differ. For example, Medical Assistants perform both administrative and clinical tasks in a healthcare facility. They help patients sign up for appointments and update patient files in addition to completing specific clinical duties, like taking blood samples and performing physical examinations. They also need to obtain a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.

In contrast, Certified Nursing Assistants don’t perform administrative tasks. Instead, they assist healthcare professionals by providing standard care procedures to patients like helping them eat, bathe, reposition, change bandages and use the restroom. Further, Certified Nursing Assistants are more likely to be employed by home care services and assisted living facilities to aid elderly, disabled or sick patients. All Certified Nursing Assistants need to have a CNA certification from an accredited program.


What are the daily duties of Medical Assistant?

On a typical day, a Medical Assistant reviews their facility’s appointment schedule for the day. They organize patient documents and greet patients as they arrive. Throughout the day, Medical Assistants interact with patients in the examinations before the Physician or General Practitioner comes in. They ask patients about any changes in their medical history and any concerns to address with their Physician. They may also perform standard procedures like taking blood pressure, listening to their lungs and checking their heart rate. 

Medical Assistants also call patients with upcoming appointments to confirm their availability and reschedule appointments as necessary.


What qualities make a good Medical Assistant?

A good Medical Assistant is well-organized, enabling them to maintain up-to-date patient files. They also value continued education and strive to obtain certifications regarding medical terminology and procedures to assist Doctors and Nurses as best they can. Medical Assistants should also have a calm and personable nature that helps patients feel comfortable and relaxed before, during and after their appointment. Further, a good Medical Assistant has excellent interpersonal communication, which allows them to adjust their communication tactics to effectively speak with patients, Doctors, Nurses and other healthcare professionals.


Who does a Medical Assistant report to?

A Medical Assistant typically reports to the Physician within a healthcare facility to perform administrative tasks on their behalf and assist them in medical examinations or procedures. In the absence of a Physician, a Medical Assistant may report to a Nurse Practitioner or a Registered Nurse for instruction.

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