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Medical Assistant



Man the front desk at a Doctor's office.

Salary Range

$27,580 - $38,340

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

What does a Medical Assistant do?

When a patient walks into their doctor’s office and receives assistance right away, they usually have a medical assistant–not a nurse or even a receptionist–to thank for it. As a medical assistant, you’re the person who makes the doctor’s office run smoothly in any way you can.

In this job, you can work in a few different areas. You might do clerical, clinical, specialist, or administrative work, or even a combination of all four.

As a clerical or administrative medical assistant, you do all the things that a front desk position entails. You answer phones, take payments, make appointments, and file charts. The difference between you and just another secretary, though, is the focus of your work. That is, you handle medical needs. For example, you might arrange for the transport of a patient, schedule medical tests, update a patient’s file, or work with insurance companies on medical claims.

If you want to focus more on medicine than on filing cabinets, then the role of a clinical medical assistant is the right one for you. The exact responsibilities of this position vary depending on what is allowed in your specific state. But the general responsibilities include things like showing patients to the exam room, getting their medical history, and helping during the exam. You might be able to take blood, arrange for lab tests, explain procedures, or remove sutures.

In a specialist’s office, what you do depends on what the specialty is. For example, if you work in an optometrist’s office, you might administer eye exams, help with surgery, explain how contact lenses are used, and assist in eyeglass selection. No matter where you work, though, a knack for organization and a caring attitude are essential in this line of work.

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