Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
If you’re thinking about becoming a medical assistant, you might be wondering where do medical assistants work? This post provides you with everything you need to know about where medical assistants work. But, before we do that, if you’re interested in becoming a medical assistant, consider enrolling in FCC’s Medical Assistant Training Program. The program can be completed and you can earn your medical assisting diploma in as few as 10 months.
To say that the medical field is massive is far from an overstatement. Today’s healthcare sector employs around 11% of all American workers, from the top surgeons, healthcare administrators and insurance executives in the country all the way down to those who keep hospitals and exam rooms clean and sterile.
This also, of course, includes medical assistants.
As trained medical professionals, medical assistants play vital clinical and administrative roles within the medical field, helping clinics of all types operate smoothly and efficiently. Through their day-to-day duties and tasks, medical assistants help ensure optimal patient care while also making life easier for doctors, nurses, and clerical staff.
Yet, medical assistants don’t always have to work in a clinic. While it’s true that most do work in clinics, it’s also true that being trained as a medical assistant can open the door for one to consider positions within a number of different healthcare environments, fields and specialties.
In this post, we’re going to explore of few of these possibilities, but before we do that, let’s answer the question of where medical assistants work?
Where do Medical Assistants Work?
In the United States, medical assistants work in private clinics, physician offices, and state, local, and private hospitals. Medical assistants also work in outpatient care centers, chiropractor offices, and other healthcare facilities. That said, medical assistants work in a variety of other healthcare facilities, here are some of them to name just a few:
- Urgent Care
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN)
- Psychiatric & Behavioral
The daily tasks a medical assistant may be required to perform within a pediatric clinic, for example, is likely going to significantly differ from those a medical assistant performs in a cardiology clinic. Differences are not only in patient prep, testing and procedures offered, but also in record keeping, client demographics, scheduling and referrals, and so on. Additional training and certifications may also be required to work in certain types of clinics.
Beyond the private practice environment, the services provided by medical assistants can also benefit teams within other types of medical facilities. Whether the focus is on direct patient care, administrative work, or a little of both, medical assistants are often also employed in the following settings:
- Outpatient Care Centers
- Medical Research Centers
- Emergency Departments (ERs)
- Long-Term Care Facilities
- Diagnostic Labs
Medical Assistants Clinical vs. Administrative Work
Besides the type of environment within which you work, a medical assistant’s career may also vary based on the type of tasks you are most likely to perform on a typical day. Such tasks are generally broken down into two categories: clinical and administrative tasks.
Normally, medical assistants are trained to learn and develop the skills to necessary to successfully perform tasks within both categories. By learning font-office tasks like scheduling appointments and updating medical records, in addition to back-office work such as taking patients to their exam rooms, taking vitals, and updating medical records, medical assistants in a way serve as the glue that holds the team together, allowing them to operate smoothly and efficiently.
However, some medical assistant positions may more heavily lean one way or the other. Within busy family clinics, for example, physicians may prefer to have a medical assistant serve as a back-office coordinator who focuses on prepping patients (i.e., taking vitals, updating medical records, etc.) within the exam rooms.
In other instances, medical assistants may spend their day focusing on scheduling patients, coordinating tests and/or referrals, maintaining inventory, and working with medical billers to payors (i.e., insurance companies) are getting the information they need.
What is the Best Place to Work as a Medical Assistant?
With so many options as far as where to seek employment and where to focus career-wise, the “best” place to work as a medical assistant is going to vary. It’s an issue of preference, one that will depend on your personality, your skillset, and even where your future aspirations in the healthcare field lie.
To answer this question, in other words, is will require that you take a step back and consider what you most enjoy about your medical assistant career and how you hope your career plays out in the years ahead.
If you have a passion for, say, working with children, helping the elderly, or ensuring people can move better, you may be best suited to work in a pediatric clinic, an elderly care facility, or a chiropractic clinic, respectively.
Or, if you find that you most enjoy the administrative side of health care, working in a hospital, or perhaps as a clinic administrator, may be more your cup of tea.
That said, many people opt to enter the profession of medical assistant because they enjoy variety in their careers. So, if you prefer wearing many different hats on a given day, and you welcome new challenges and opportunities, working in a private practice medical clinic may be most suitable for you.
What is the Difference between a Medical Assistant and a Nurse?
This is a big topic – one that involves more detail than we’ll go into here – but the gist is this: nurses are more highly trained healthcare professionals than medical assistants. This enables them to perform a wider range of duties than a medical assistant, which may even include creating and overseeing patient care plans. In contract, medical assistants must always work under the supervision of a physician or registered nurse.
Both professions may provide basic patient care like taking vitals, updating medical records, making injections, preparing examination rooms, and so on. As medical professionals who work under their own license, nurses can perform medical procedures and may also specialize in areas such as oncology, cardiology, operating rooms, ICU, and so on.
For those who wish to go into the medical field but who are unsure if they can afford the level of educational and/or financial commitment required to attend nursing school, medical assistant training as a possible entry-level career option in healthcare.
What Does a Typical Work Day Look Like for a Medical Assistant?
When working in a healthcare clinic, a typical day in the life of a medical assistant begins with a quick review of the patient schedule for that day. The medical assistant may start on the day’s paperwork (patient charts, insurance information, etc.) and begin preparing exam rooms for the day.
Once patients begin to arrive, medical assistants may greet them at the front desk and then take them back to their exam rooms, where initial vitals are taken and patient information is updated in preparation for the doctor’s visit. Depending on individual patient needs, as determined by physicians, medical assistants may circle back to assist with giving injections, drawing blood, performing tests, assisting with X-rays, and whatever other needs might arise. They may also provide patients with special care instructions prior to the end of appointments.
In between appointments, medical assistants may also perform a variety of administrative duties like taking phone calls, scheduling additional appointments, working with billing and insurance, and assisting patients with paperwork.
How Do You Become a Medical Assistant?
One can usually become a medical assistant through training programs provided by community, vocational, or career colleges, such as Florida Career College (FCC). For example, with FCC’s Medical Assistant Technician training program, which can be completed and a diploma earned in as few as 10 months, students receive both classroom and hands-on training to help them learn the skills they will need to become successful medical assistants.
In addition to classroom and lab instruction that includes such topics as front-office procedures, back-office procedures, electrocardiography, diagnostic imaging, phlebotomy and hematology, pharmacology, and so on, FCC requires that students complete a real-world externship at a local clinic or medical office. Once the program is completed and the student had graduated from the Medical Assistant Technician program, FCC’s Career Services department works to place her or him into an entry-level position at a medical clinic or facility.
So, if you’re interested in becoming a medical assistant, consider enrolling in FCC’s Medical Assistant Training Program. The program will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on training you need for an entry level medical assistant career.