Medical assistants perform a mix of both administrative and clinical duties. While they don’t diagnose patients, prescribe medications or do surgery, they are expected to be able to perform some procedures and assist the physician or nurse as needed. If you’re thinking about starting a career as a medical assistant, it’s important to know ahead of time what type of procedures you’ll be asked to do. It varies based on the healthcare setting, of course, but here’s a general overview. As a student at the Prism Career Institute, you’ll be taught what you need to know about all of the following medical assistant procedures.
When a patient comes in, one of the first things you’ll do is update their medical record and check their vital signs. This information helps paint a picture for the doctor of what the patient’s current health status looks like. You’ll check the patient’s pulse, respiration, pulse oximetry, blood pressure and body temperature. Depending on why the patient has come in, you may also conduct other basic tests and collect samples, such as urine samples, throat cultures and blood samples. Then, you’ll help prepare the patient for any exams they might be scheduled to have that day.
The doctor performs most physical exams, but a medical assistant will often get asked to help. Some common procedures you might be involved with include:
- Gynecologic exams
- Eye and ear irrigation
- Newborn screening tests
- Pediatric exams
- And more
While medical assistants may help with exams, the doctor will be the one to interpret the results and prescribe treatment if necessary. You’ll be available to educate patients on exams, as well. For example, medical assistants in Ob-Gyn clinics can teach women how to perform self breast examinations on their own at home.
The majority of procedures you’re expected to do are non-invasive. This includes performing tests, such as electrocardiograms to check cardiac function, urine tests to check whether or not a patient is pregnant, and invasive blood glucose measurements. You’ll also frequently have to administer immunizations and medications, including pills, powders, injections and eye drops. Additionally, it’s common for medical assistants to care for various injuries and wounds. This involves removing sutures and staples, changing dressings and applying ice bags. If a patient has to use medical devices, such as walkers and crutches, you’ll be there to help them learn what to do.
Medical assistants have the training to assist with some invasive procedures, too, should the physician need them to. For example, you might get to help perform some minor office surgeries used to treat things like boils, cysts, infections and in-grown toenails. Other procedures you might assist with include:
- Incision and drainage
- Emergency medical procedures
- Phlebotomy procedures
- And more
Get Ready for an Exciting Career
Just by looking at this broad spectrum of clinical duties, you can tell that life as a medical assistant can be very rewarding and fulfilling. Everyday will bring something new and you’ll continue to gain new knowledge and skills. When you enroll in the Medical Assistant Program at Prism Career Institute, you’ll get to learn about all these procedures and much more to make sure you’re completely prepared. Not a student yet? Apply online today and get your career off the ground.