What Does a Medical Assistant Do?


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If a worldwide pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that skilled medical professionals are in high demand. From outpatient clinics and hospitals to diagnostic laboratories and medical research centers, Medical Assistant Technicians play a vital role in ensuring each procedure runs smoothly.


For those who have the desire to help others and who want to make a difference by providing the best care to patients of all types, becoming a medical assistant technician can be the first step to making that dream come true. There’s a high demand for medical assistants with the training and skills to work alongside physicians in many different environments.


If you're interested in becoming a Medical Assistant, you should consider enrolling in UEI College's Medical Assisting Program. The program is short-term, allowing you to earn your Medical Assistant Diploma in as little as 10 Months.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Medical Assistants work directly with medical doctors and physicians. They perform tasks in the front office and the exam room, depending on their job description. Medical Assistants act as a liaison between the physician and their patients.


For example, Medical Assistants may be the first person to greet a patient as they enter the office or schedule their appointment. Once in the office, the medical assistant helps prepare the patient for their exam by gathering a medical history, recording the patient’s vitals, and even performing preliminary tests like EKGs, vision or hearing screenings, Capillary punctures, or processing urine samples.


The specific duties of a medical assistant can vary greatly from one office to another, just as one clinic’s specialties may vary from another. Because medical assistants may be used in the front office or in the back office, they are required to be flexible and possess both administrative and clinical knowledge.

Medical Assistant Administrative Tasks

  • Greeting patients and scheduling appointments
  • Ensuring patient medical records are up to date and correct
  • Assisting with patient check-in procedures
  • Scheduling referral and testing appointments
  • Calling and faxing prescriptions to pharmacies with the doctor's approval
  • Ensuring exam rooms are fully stocked
  • General office administration

Medical Assistant Clinical Tasks

  • Showing patients to their exam rooms
  • Preparing patients for their exams by recording vitals and collecting medical history
  • Undressing wounds, removing stitches or staples
  • Collecting samples for lab tests, including urine, blood, or cheek swabs
  • Cleaning and maintaining medical equipment and instruments
  • Assisting the physician during the exam
  • Perform specialized testing like EKGs, vision screening, and hearing tests

What Skills Should a Medical Assistant Have?

As the link between the physician and the patient, being a medical assistant requires flexibility and attention to detail. In this environment, every detail matters so great organization is a must. Being a good communicator is also vital. They must be able to speak in the technical terms the physician is comfortable with and still communicate the results to patients in a way that they can understand.


Most people seeking answers to their medical questions are feeling great anxiety. A good medical assistant will be able to put patients at ease to get through their exam and their treatment. This requires not only empathy but good people skills as well.


All of these skills can be learned through careful coaching and hands-on practice. Skills include:


Interpersonal skills

  • Empathy for patients and their family members
  • Good communication
  • Calm demeanor in stressful situations
  • Ability to stay organized even when multitasking
  • Willingness to take direction and learn new skills


Technical skills

  • Ability to record vitals and update medical history records
  • Ability to collect lab specimens and run lab tests such as urinalyses and rapid strep testing
  • Perform specialized testing like EKGs, vision screening, and hearing tests
  • Knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
  • Understand office procedures and treatment plans as well as medical terminology


Administrative skills

  • Ability to multitask in order to keep others in the office on track
  • Tracking and ordering necessary supplies to keep exam rooms stocked
  • Literacy with computers for scheduling and recording patient records

Where Do Medical Assistants Work?

Most medical assistants work in doctor’s offices, but there are many options available. Medical assistants are needed in chiropractor’s offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, clinics for children, OBGYN’s offices, and even medical research centers or diagnostic laboratories. The skills taught to medical assistants make them an integral part of the healthcare field.

Do You Need a Diploma to Become a Medical Assistant?

In California, you generally do not need a diploma to become a medical assistant. However, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a formal training program or have some post-secondary education in medical assisting. Completing a diploma, certificate, or associate degree program in medical assisting can provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the job effectively.


While formal education is not always a legal requirement, it can significantly improve your job prospects and make you a more competitive candidate. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed an accredited program because it demonstrates that you have received proper training in the field.


It's important to note that requirements and preferences can vary among employers, so it's always a good idea to research specific job postings and speak with potential employers to determine their specific expectations for medical assistant positions in California.

What Does the Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant Look Like?

A day in the life of a medical assistant varies greatly from one office to the next and is generally assigned by the office’s medical director. In a typical doctor’s office a medical assistant may be answering phones, scheduling appointments and then greeting patients and preparing them for their exam with the physician. They collect the patient’s medical history, noting it down in the patient’s record, and collect information on blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Medical assistants may be called upon to assist the doctor during the exam or collect specimens to be sent to the lab for further testing. Medical assistants may also be the one to administer oral medication or injections. At the end of the exam they are responsible for disinfecting any instruments that were used and preparing the exam room for the next patient. The medical assistant may also provide patient education, call in a prescription on behalf of the doctor and update the patient’s record.

How to Become a Medical Assistant?

  1. Step #1: Earn your high school diploma
  2. Step #2: Enroll in and complete a medical assistant training program
  3. Step #3: Gain experience through an externship
  4. Step #4: Apply and interview for open positions


Learn more about how to become a Medical Assistant!

Why Choose UEI College to Become a Medical Assistant?

At UEI College, we offer our Medical Assistant Training Program at all of our campuses. By offering a mix of online classroom instruction, hands-on lab training, and clinical experience through our externship program, students learn and become confident in the skills they need to excel as medical assistants in the real world.


Here are some other advantages of choosing to enroll in UEI College’s Medical Assistant training program:


1. Complete the program in as few as 10 months.
UEI College's Medical Assistant diploma program is designed to be completed, and you can earn your diploma in as little as 10 months. This means that you can conceivably go from having no medical experience to being career-ready in the medical assisting field in under a year!


2. Our curriculum is established to match employer needs.
At UEI College, we designed our curriculum to match the education and skillsets local employers are looking for when considering medical assistant candidates to join their healthcare teams. As needs and expectations continually evolve, we closely monitor potential market changes through trusted community partners in the field.


3. No high school diploma? You still have educational options.
Yes, employers do seek medical assistants who have a high school education. That’s why if incoming students never finished high school or earned a GED, we will help them earn their high school diplomas as they receive their medical assistant training.


4. Our instructors have experience in the field.
At UEI College, we pride ourselves in hiring instructors that not only know the materials and can teach the skills necessary to graduate. Most of our instructors also boast years of experience in the medical assisting field, and their teaching reflects this by preparing students for real-world scenarios they are likely to encounter in their careers.


5. UEI College's hybrid model allows for greater flexibility.
Our hybrid teaching model provides students with a balanced mix of online classroom education as well as in-person, hands-on lab training on one of our campuses. This means students are not expected to make the trip to campus every day, allowing them the personal flexibility they need to work, care for their families, and tend to other commitments.


6. We provide hands-on training.
Despite the virtual nature of our online classes, we know that students cannot develop the relevant skills they need to become effective medical assistants without in-person training and practice. Therefore, all our students come to campus twice each week to work in the lab, where they will receive hands-on training for such tasks as taking patient information and vitals, drawing blood, making injections, and so on.


7. An externship offers real-world experience with a potential employer.
Following the completion of all classes and lab training requirements, all Medical Assistant Technician graduates will have also completed 180 hours of real-world training and experience through an externship at a local medical clinic, private practice, or hospital. Such experience helps open students’ eyes about what it takes to become an effective and successful medical assistant while also giving them the opportunity to impress what may become potential employers following graduation.


8. Our Career Services department will help you find a position.
Unlike some schools, UEI College doesn’t simply hand over your diploma and wish you love following graduation. Our Career Services team continually works with students throughout their job searches, providing training and advice for constructing resumes and cover letters, impressing a potential employer during a job interview, and so on. The team also keeps tabs on the local job market, passing along potential medical assistant leads to students.


9. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
UEI College strives to help students establish financial plans for their educational journeys, plans that may include a combination of loans, grants, scholarships, and other sources of aid. We also offer a variety of special aid options for military veterans, active-duty military members, reservists, and their dependents.


10. We believe in second chances.
Nearly everyone has something in their personal histories – a false step, a questionable decision, an unfavorable consequence, et cetera – that doesn’t fully represent who they are or who they’re capable of becoming as a person. At UEI College, we believe that such negative missteps can help motivate people toward a positive future. That’s why we believe in offering people second chances, especially when it comes to accessing education and training that can positively impact one’s future.


11. We care about and celebrate student success.
The culture at UEI College was established with the student front and center in our minds. Everything we offer and everything we do is based on making our students succeed both in school and as professionals within their careers of choice. And, when a student overcomes challenges and achieves their career goals, we believe that’s cause for celebration! Read about student stories on our blog.

Become a Medical Assistant, Enroll Today!

If you're interested in becoming a medical assistant, consider enrolling in UEI College's Medical Assisting Program! The program is short-term, allowing you to earn a Medical Assistant Diploma in as few as 10 Months!