What Medical Assistants Do

Medical assistants provide administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and the offices of other health practitioners. The duties of the medical assistants  can vary, however the following is what is typical.

Medical Assistant Duties


Medical assistants typically per


  • Record patient history
  • Measure the patient’s vital signs
  • Assist with physical examinations
  • Schedule appointments
  • Prepare blood for lab testing

Electronic health records, also known as EHRs, are

becoming more common and are affecting the jobs of medical assistants. Hospitals and physicians are adopting EHRs, putting all patient information in an electronic format. Medical assistants will be working with the EHR software that their office uses.

Medical assistants question the patient and record patients’ personal information. They are required be able to keep that information confidential and discuss it only with other medical staff who treat the patient.

Medical assistants are different from physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under a physician’s supervision. In larger doctor practices or hospitals, medical assistants may specialize. They may be either administrative or clinical work.

Administrative medical assistants may fill out insurance forms or code patients’ medical information. Some assistants track and store supplies and equipment for the office.

Clinical medical assistants might do basic laboratory tests, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. They may also have additional responsibilities, such as instructing patients about medication or special diets, preparing patients for x rays, removing stitches, drawing blood, or changing dressings.

There are specific types of medical assistant specialties. Here are a couple examples.

Ophthalmic medical assistants and optometry assistants help ophthalmologists and optometrists, respectively, provide eye care. They show patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses.

Podiatry medical assistants work closely with podiatrists, also known as foot doctors. They may make castings of feet, expose and develop x rays, and help podiatrists in surgery.


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