While all medical assistants share common responsibilities, some choose to specialize in certain areas of healthcare.
The Complete List of 15 Medical Assistant Specialties
A podiatric medical assistant has many of the same duties that other medical assistants have. Their administrative tasks include scheduling appointments, dealing with payments, and keeping medical records organized.
Their clinical tasks include caring for the toenails’ of patients that can’t reach their feet, applying ointments, applying casts, and other standard tasks like taking a patient’s vital signs.
Podiatric medical assistants can improve their chances of getting hired by taking the American Society for Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA) certification exam. However, this is not required, and you can still work at a podiatry office without getting this certification.
Ophthalmic assistants work at facilities that provide eye care services, such as hospitals and private practices. Their duties include helping prepare patients and equipment for eye tests, helping to educate patients about tests, procedures, and medications, conducting basic eye tests, and normal administration tasks.
To become a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA), you will need to pass the COA exam offered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO).
While certification is not required, COAs are paid the best out of all of the medical assistant specialties. So, most employers will expect you to have some credentials before hiring you.
Chiropractic medical assistants don’t perform any specialized duties. Their duties are mainly administration related, as they generally assist patients with their medical history documents, and help with scheduling appointments and processing billing.
There are currently no specialized certifications available for chiropractic assistants. This is because they don’t perform many of the same duties that clinical medical assistants do.
4. Obstetrics and Gynecology
Obstetrics focuses on providing care to pregnant women, while gynecology focuses on the overall reproductive health of women. However, gynecologists are usually trained in both disciplines. This is why assistants in these fields are called OB-GYN medical assistants.
Their clinical tasks include helping doctors with procedures like IUD insertions and pap smears, checking the vital signs of patients, collecting patient samples, and measuring the weight and belly size of pregnant women.
There are currently no specialized certification exams for OB-GYN assistants. But, you can go through a medical assistant program designed for OB-GYN assistants.
Geriatric care refers to healthcare for the elderly, which normally means patients over the age of 75. The duties of a geriatric medical assistant include inspecting a patient’s skin for any abnormalities, helping physicians with physical assessments, checking the vital signs of patients, and administering vaccinations and other shots.
A geriatric medical assistant will also need to be well-versed in medical insurance. This is because they will often need to help elderly patients navigate insurance systems. Once again, there is no specialist certification exam for geriatric medical assistants, but there are some specialized training programs.
Oncology regards caring for parents with cancer. A medical assistant working at an oncology center or hospital will assist doctors with radiation and chemotherapy. They also perform many other standard clinical and administrative tasks.
There isn’t a specialist certification exam for oncology assistants. But, you can go through a specialized training program to become a Specialty Certified Medical Assistant in Oncology.
Cardiology is a medical specialty that relates to treating patients who have problems with their heart and blood vessels. A cardiology medical assistant helps cardiologists perform cardiac stress tests, cardiac imaging, and electrocardiograms (EKGs).
They also provide cardiologists with information about a patient’s cardiovascular history, so that appropriate treatment can be provided.
Cardiology assistants usually need to go for specialist training before employers will consider them. While you aren’t required to take an EKG course or become certified in phlebotomy, these credentials will help when you are looking for a job.
This medical assistant specialty isn’t very demanding, as a dermatologist treats patients with issues relating to the skin. A student can finish a training program and immediately begin working for a dermatologist as an entry-level medical assistant.
Their duties often involve helping dermatologists by sterilizing and then assembling the equipment they use to perform diagnostic procedures like biopsies and wound cultures. Alongside these duties, a dermatology medical assistant also performs administration tasks.
Neurology is the medical specialty that relates to the nervous system. A medical assistant working for a neurologist assists the physician when they are examining a patient’s nervous system, and also helps with electrical tests, radiologic tests, and spinal taps.
Interestingly, there is no medical assistant specialty certification for neurology. This is because neurologists don’t actually perform surgery.
Medical assistants working at neurology offices mainly deal with administration tasks, and help neurologists perform tests.
Urologists treat patients that have disorders or diseases that affect the urinary tracts of both men and women. They also treat male patients that have diseases or disorders affecting their reproductive organs.
Like many of the other medical assistant specialties we have listed, there is no specific certification that medical assistants can get if they want to specialize in urology.
However, it would be beneficial for a medical assistant working for a urologist to have phlebotomy certification. This is because the duties of a medical assistant in this specialty include, giving injections, and helping a physician perform ultrasounds, vasectomies, cystoscopies, and more.
Endocrinology practices treat patients that have issues with their endocrine systems. These issues include diabetes, hypothyroidism, and low testosterone and estrogen levels. To test for these conditions, blood needs to be drawn, which is why a phlebotomy certification will be good for a medical assistant if they plan on working for an endocrinologist.
Blood sugar checks, urine sample collection, and administration tasks are some of the other duties that a medical assistant will do if they are employed by an endocrinologist.
Pulmonology is the medical specialty that relates to the lungs. Pulmonologists diagnose and treat conditions like emphysema, asthma, and tuberculosis.
A medical assistant working for a pulmonologist will often be tasked with administering inhaled and oral medications, giving injections, helping the physician conduct X-rays and MRIs, and performing basic laboratory tests.
To work for an pulmologist, a phlebotomy certification will be beneficial, but you will likely still be considered for positions with normal medical assistant certification.
Gastroenterology concerns diseases and disorders that affect the intestines and stomach.
There are no specialized certificates that medical assistants can complete for gastroenterology. A standard medical assistant certification and a phlebotomy certification will suffice, as you will likely receive further training on the job.
Some of the duties you will be tasked with include helping a physician with endoscopies, stool tests, barium swallows, and ultrasonography.
Orthopedic specialists focus on caring for patients with muscle and bone problems. Some of these specialists focus solely on rehabbing sports-related injuries. To work as a medical assistant at an orthopedic specialist practice, you only need to have gone through a regular medical assistant program.
This is because orthopedic medical assistants aren’t often tasked with giving injections to patients. Instead, they often interview patients to understand what led to their injuries and help physicians perform diagnostic procedures, such as assessing a patient’s level of movement.
Pediatricians diagnose and treat patients that are under the age of 18. To become a pediatric medical assistant, you will need to go through a standard medical assistant training program and get certification in phlebotomy.
Pediatric medical assistants perform many of the standard administrative and clinical tasks that many other medical assistants do. However, they are also tasked with comforting children, and making medical processes less frightening for them.
Which medical assistant specialties pay the most?
Medical assistants who work for ophthalmologist practices earn the most on average. The average annual salary for an ophthalmic assistant is $45,673.
What is the difference between a clinical medical assistant and a medical administrative office assistant?
A clinical medical assistant will have some administrative duties, but they mainly focus on patient care. Medical administrative office assistants focus almost entirely on administrative duties and have very little to do with actual patient care.
A medical assistant can enjoy some career progression and earn more money if they decide to specialize. There are a number of different medical assistant specialties for you to choose from, but your choice should ultimately depend on the specialty you are most interested in.