What Medical Assistants Can and Cannot Do

Medical Assistants Can and Cannot Do
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Becoming a medical assistant is an excellent career choice for anyone that is looking for an opportunity to work hand-in-hand with those who need support. The best programs enable you to learn in a hands-on way, gaining the insight and skill you need to work in this very important field. There are a lot of different paths for those who want to enter the healthcare industry and that’s why it is so important for you to consider what a medical assistant can do.

Medical assistants are typically key players within the healthcare team they work in, often supporting the work of doctors, nurses, and specialists while also meeting the individual needs of their patients. A medical assistant has some limitations on the types of things they can do based on their training and licensing. Some employers place additional restrictions on the work these assistants can do.

You can always verify what you are allowed and not allowed to do through the California Medical Board.

What does a medical assistant do?

Some of the tasks that most medical assistants can do include the following:

  • Greet patients and assist them with completing paperwork, answering questions, and listening to patients discuss their situation
  • Take vitals for patients
  • Answer phones and emails related to the patients’ care, including scheduling patient appointments
  • Prepare exam rooms between patients
  • Update patient records electronically and in charts as directly by doctors or others
  • Handle the billing and bookkeeping tasks of a health care practice, such as providing entries on care received so they can be coded for insurance submission
  • Clean and sterilize all medical equipment and tools between patients
  • Work with a doctor to support the provider during exams
  • Support a doctor during outpatient procedures
  • Collection of blood and urine as needed for lab tests
  • Administer medications under the direct supervision of a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant
  • Help to gather information and insight from the patient to communicate to a healthcare provider
  • Help a patient with eating and ensuring they are eating properly, overseeing how much the patient eats

Keep in mind that many healthcare centers will have additional restrictions that a person must complete as a part of the job. The key here is to know what you cannot do under the law.

What does a medical assistant not do?

There are some tasks that a medical assistant is not allowed to do under the law. It is very important for you to avoid engaging in these tasks as they could put your career at risk. The most common tasks a medical assistant cannot do include:

  • Diagnose a patient’s health condition or even make recommendations for what “it could be”
  • Treat patient conditions with any type of therapy or medication outside of what the doctor’s treatment protocol is
  • Interpret test results, such as providing a patient with information about their test results
  • Evaluating a patient
  • Creating a treatment plan for patients
  • Administering IV medications
  • Administering any type of anesthesia
  • Advising patients in any way about their medical condition
  • Operating any type of laser equipment
  • Engaging in any type of invasive treatment or test, such as performing a spinal tap or epidural
  • Prescribing medications or changing the dosing of medication for a patient

Be sure that you understand any additional restrictions that may be placed on you by your employer as well.

What Is the Day-to-Day Work of a Medical Assistant Like?

Many times, the work that a medical assistant does is very valuable and contributes to the function of the treatment center or doctor’s office. They can work in most types of healthcare centers, such as hospital settings, nursing homes, or private practices. The work you do, then, will vary based on the atmosphere you are in.

Oftentimes, medical assistants help to prepare medical records and help patients go from the waiting room to the office space to meet with their doctor. They may help with maintaining patient charts and getting supplies the doctor may need during an appointment or procedure. They also help with maintaining the equipment and office space, ensuring it is clean and sterile.

Often, they also help with the administrative tasks of the location, such as ordering supplies as needed, scheduling patient appointments, and maintaining any office equipment necessary. Some also submit claims to insurance companies, and they may work to manage a patient’s payments for the care they receive.

During appointments or treatments, medical assistants can also help with the collection of urine or blood for a lab to test. In addition to this, they can also assist a doctor in a treatment or procedure by providing supportive services.

Are you Ready to Start a Career as a Medical Assistant?

ATA College offers a comprehensive medical assistant program that provides you with the education and hands-on support you need to do well in this field. You may be able to complete your education in just 8 months. That would allow you to start on the path to your career in no time. Reach out to us today to learn more about this program and what it could mean for you!

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