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What Type of Medical Assisting is Right for You?

Medical assisting is a varied field. Learn more about the different functions MAs perform in healthcare depending on where they work.

Becoming a medical assistant means joining a growing and necessary field in healthcare. Medical assistants do much of the day-to-day work that makes healthcare function, be it in a lab or at a desk. Medical assistants work in a variety of environments, and if you decide to pursue this in-demand career, there are a few paths you can take, all of which are different and all of which are necessary to make healthcare happen.


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Clinical medical assistants

Clinical medical assistants perform tests, record results, and may also give some instructions to patients. Before someone interacts with a nurse or physician, they’ll often talk to a clinical medical assistant. These medical assistants also work closely with other healthcare providers.


As a clinical medical assistant, you’ll be dealing with some of the most sensitive information available: patient data. Your role in performing, managing, and recording test results will expose you to information that must be accurate. Most jobs try to avoid error, but as a clinical medical assistant, you’ll have to be even more exact than you would in other, similar fields. You’ll be part of the chain of care. People’s lives will depend on your work.


Related resource: The Origins of Medical Assisting

Administrative medical assistants

Every organization has paperwork, and it’s up to administrative medical assistants to make sure the clerical part of their organization is in order. “Administration” doesn’t just mean paperwork, though. It also means you work with people.


If you’re an administrative medical assistant, communication is key. It’s possible that patients and their family members will talk to you more than they talk to anyone else at your place of employment. You could have more face time than doctors, nurses, or other healthcare providers. That means, more so than your co-workers, you’ll be the face of the organization. You’ll be the first person who patients see when they arrive, and the last when they leave. You’ll put them at ease when they walk in, and answer their final questions at the end of their visit. In that way, you’ll help shape not only their immediate impression, but how they perceive the entire healthcare experience.


Related Resource: Things No One Tells You About Being an MA

Specialized medical assistants

If you work in a specialized field (such as geriatrics), it’s possible you’ll have to pursue additional training or education beyond what medical assistants normally receive. It’s worth it, though. You’ll become one of the go-to people for an esoteric and necessary corner of healthcare. And as a specialist, you’ll likely work with advanced technology particular to your field, or with equipment that very few people know how to safely and effectively operate.


Related Resource: Health Hacks: Tips and Tricks to Being a Better MA Student

Registered or certified medical assistants

Lastly, some medical assistants can go above and beyond to become registered or certified medical assistants. Ameritech prepares you to become a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA), Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). That might sound like a lot, but these certifications largely depend on which organization medical assistants belong to. What they all have in common is they demonstrate to employers, colleagues, and patients that an MA has an exceptional amount of professional knowledge and skill.


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What Type of Medical Assisting is Right for You?