If you are looking to work in healthcare facilities as a certified medical assistant (CMA), you need to understand what the job entails.
CMAs work in many different facilities as assistants to healthcare staff, performing administrative and clinical duties.
Let’s look at the certified medical assistant job description, including duties, skills, and qualifications.
Certified Medical Assistant Job Description
It can be difficult to accurately summarize the duties of a certified medical assistant because of the many different tasks involved in their daily jobs. The setting in which the CMA works also has an influence on the types of duties they perform.
For example, a certified medical assistant working in a small facility might be responsible for clinical tasks as well as the day-to-day administration of the facility.
CMAs who work in large healthcare facilities might have more specialized duties. These include patient care, managing patient information, working in the back office, or doing front office work.
Below are some of the typical duties that form part of the certified medical assistant job description:
Assisting with Patient Care
CMAs are responsible for assisting with the care of patients at the facility.
While patients wait to be seen by the doctor or specialist, the CMA will ensure the patient’s comfort whether in the waiting room, doctor’s office, or hospital ward. While waiting, the CMA may also record any health complaints that the patient may have before seeing the doctor.
Performing Clinical Procedures
CMAs are responsible for certain clinical tasks. This includes measuring the vital signs of the patient:
- Taking the blood pressure
- Measuring temperature
- Determining heart rate
- Performing basic laboratory tests
This information is then recorded for the doctor.
CMAs also assist doctors during the examination of the patient, or provide assistance with any medical procedures where needed.
Maintaining Medical Records
The certified medical assistant job description includes administrative tasks. These tasks include taking down the medical histories of the patients and entering any data from the patient charts or relating to vital signs into the computer system.
It’s up to the certified medical assistant to maintain these patient records on an ongoing basis.
Administering Medications and Injections
A CMA must be competent in administering medications as well as discussing the purpose and effects of the medications with the patients.
On occasion, they will also be responsible for administering necessary injections or drawing blood.
Assisting with Office Management Tasks
CMAs serve an administrative function as well, they:
- Greet patients as they arrive
- Collect patient information
- Escort patients to the examination rooms
- Assist with billing, invoicing, and coding
- Organize the office space
- May have to do basic cleaning duties when needed
- Schedule appointments
Communicating with Patients and Healthcare Providers
Communication skills are crucial for certified medical assistants as they work with patients and insurance companies.
CMAs are responsible for contacting patients telephonically to remind them of appointments or follow up on late payments.
The CMA is also typically responsible for contacting healthcare insurance providers to obtain pre-approval, determine insurance coverage, and complete insurance forms.
Types Of CMAs
There are several types of national certifications for medical assistants available:
- Certified medical assistant (CMA) – the American Association of Medical Assistants
- Registered medical assistant (RMA) – the American Medical Technologists
- National certified medical assistant (NCMA) – the National Center for Competency Testing
- Certified clinical medical assistant (CCMA) – the National Healthcareer Association
Skills And Qualifications
A certified medical assistant job description includes a specific set of skills that candidates interested in this career should possess. These skills and qualifications will help a certified medical administrative assistant excel at his or her job, especially considering the varied administrative and clinical tasks.
Here are the basic technical skills that a CMA will need:
- Basic medical skills, including drawing blood, administering medications, cleaning wounds, and preparing patients’ rooms
- Ordering medical supplies
- Scheduling appointments
- Coordinating with other healthcare facilities for tests or admissions
- Maintaining patient information
- Understanding medical terminology
- Being familiar with the use of medical instruments, including stethoscopes, thermometers and sphygmomanometers
- Having knowledge of medications, including herbal supplements, over-the-counter medicines, and prescribed drugs
As CMAs are involved with patient care, they need certain interpersonal skills to do the job well:
- Communication skills since you will be working with patients face-to-face, liaising with doctors, insurance companies, and facility managers
- Brilliant customer service skills to respectfully interact with patients
- Empathy for the patients and what they are going through
- Commitment to working long hours and busy days where duties vary
- Ability to work under stressful conditions
- Strong ethics and morals as confidentiality is crucial in this role
- A strong desire to help people
CMAs need strong organizational skills to manage the office, complete administrative duties, and stay on top of patient care:
- Basic understanding of different computer software used for medical records
- Maintaining and updating patient charts
- Office administrative skills, such as scheduling appointments, bookkeeping, and answering phones
- Keeping track of patients’ medicines
Education and Training Requirements
CMAs can take different routes to become certified, as evident in the different types of CMAs listed above.
However, there are general education and training requirements that apply to all CMAs:
- High school diploma (or equivalent): It is possible for you to get a job as a medical assistant with only a high school diploma. In this instance, you can become certified after a year of work experience in the past three years.However, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and most employers are looking for candidates with tertiary qualifications.
- Post-graduate diploma or certificate: Community colleges and technical schools offer diplomas or certificates to become a CMA. There are online courses available, making it possible for those already working as medical assistants to get a formal qualification.While coursework is online, lab work will have to be done on campus, and you will have to undergo an externship.
- Associate’s degree: It will take you two years to complete your degree (although some schools offer fast-track options). The degree will cover modules in anatomy, medical terminology, and biology. It also includes laboratory work and an externship at a healthcare facility.This degree will provide you with in-depth knowledge and experience, which many employers are looking for.
Certification and Licensing
Medical assistants do not have to be certified in accordance with any national or state laws. However, many employers look for certified medical assistants that have relevant education.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers medical assistants the opportunity to become certified.
The requirements for medical assisting certification from the AAMA include:
- Graduation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educations Programs or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools accredited educational programs.
- Complete a practicum or externship where you will gain hands-on experience.
- Passing the certification exam.
Although certification is not a legal requirement, you may be limited in your duties and tasks if you do not receive certification.
Working as a certified medical assistant can be an incredibly rewarding career path.
Day-to-day responsibilities vary, which keeps the job interesting. From checking patients’ vital signs, understanding medical instruments, and administering medications to office duties and patient scheduling, the job will never be dull.
Not only is a certified medical assistant a fulfilling role in itself, but it is also a great stepping stone should someone want a higher-paying job in healthcare.
What does a certified medical assistant do on a daily basis?
The certified medical assistant job description is a vast one. Where you work and your skills and qualifications will determine what you do on a daily basis.
In doctors’ offices, CMAs are responsible for greeting patients when they arrive, ensuring the patient is comfortable in the exam room, capturing medical history, measuring vital signs, assisting the doctor with the exam, and also doing administrative duties.
At outpatient care facilities, the medical assistant is responsible for updating patient charts and records, ensuring the comfort of the patients, administering medication, communicating with patients’ families, and assisting with medical procedures. CMAs are also responsible for admin tasks such as dealing with insurance companies.
A medical assistant working at a hospital has a fairly stressful job. The daily duties of medical assistants at hospitals will depend on the department they are employed in.
It generally includes measuring vital signs, capturing the medical history of patients, updating charts, maintaining patient records, answering phones, billing and even maintaining laboratory specimens.
What are the typical working hours for a medical assistant?
The working hours for a medical assistant will depend on where the CMA works. At physicians’ offices, CMAs will typically work the full day as these offices are only open during typical business hours.
Jobs at hospitals or clinics are shift-based. Medical assistants can either work day or night shifts, depending on when and in which department they are needed.
What is the average salary for a certified medical assistant?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants earn an annual wage of $37,190.
This is a significant increase from 2018 when the annual salary for a certified medical assistant was $35,120.