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Medical Assisting

Occupational Description

Medical assisting is a multi-skilled allied health profession; practitioners work primarily in ambulatory settings such as medical offices and clinics. Medical assistants function as members of the health care delivery team and perform administrative and clinical procedures.

Job Description

Medical assistants work under the supervision of physicians in their offices or other medical settings. In accordance with respective state laws, they perform a broad range of administrative and clinical duties:
Administrative duties
  • Scheduling and receiving patients 
  • Performing basic administrative skills 
  • Handling telephone calls and writing correspondence 
  • Serving as a liaison between the physician and other individuals 
  • Managing practice finances
Clinical duties
  • Preparing and maintaining electronic medical records
  • Asepsis and infection control 
  • Taking patient histories and vital signs 
  • Performing first aid and CPR 
  • Preparing patients for procedures 
  • Assisting the physician with examinations and treatments 
  • Collecting and processing specimens 
  • Performing selected diagnostic tests 
  • Preparing and administering medications as directed by the physician
Both administrative and clinical duties involve maintenance of equipment and supplies for the practice. A medical assistant who is sufficiently qualified by education and/or experience may be responsible for supervising personnel, developing and conducting public outreach programs to market the physician’s professional services, and participating in the negotiation of leases and of equipment and supply contracts.

Employment Characteristics

More medical assistants are employed by practicing physicians than any other type of allied health personnel. Medical assistants are usually employed in physicians’ offices and other ambulatory healthcare settings, where they perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks to facilitate the work of the physician. The responsibilities of medical assistants vary, depending on whether they work in a clinic, hospital, large group practice, or small private office. With demand from more than 200,000 physicians, there are, and will probably continue to be, almost unlimited opportunities for formally educated medical assistants.

Educational Programs

Length. Programs grant an associates degree, certificate, or diploma.

Prerequisites. High school diploma or equivalent is usually required.

Curriculum. The curricula of accredited programs must ensure achievement of the Entry-Level Competencies for the Medical Assistant. The curriculum must include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, medical law and ethics, psychology, communications (oral and written), medical assisting administrative procedures, and medical assisting clinical procedures. Programs must include an externship that provides practical experience in qualified physicians’ offices, accredited hospitals, or other health care facilities.


American Association of Medical Assistants
20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1575
Chicago, IL 60606
Toll free: 800-228-2262

American Medical Technologists
10700 W. Higgins Road, Suite 150
Rosemont, IL 60018

National Center for Competency Testing
7007 College Blvd., Suite 385
Overland Park, KS 66211
Toll Free: 800-875-4404

National Healthcareer Association
11161 Overbrook Road
Leawood, KS 66211
Toll free: 800-499-9092 

American Medical Certification Association
194 Route 46 East
Fairfield, NJ 07044
Toll free: 888-960-2622



American Association of Medical Assistants
Department of Accreditation
20 North Wacker Dr., Suite 1575
Chicago, IL 60606-2903