The Role of a Medical Assistant in Primary Care

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Have you been to the doctor’s office lately? It’s a pretty busy place! There are lots of people, from all walks of life, with all kinds of health issues. And today, the health team member who is often keeping them all straight is a Medical Assistant. If you’d like a career helping others where you’d have a lot of responsibility and the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others, check out all that a Medical Assistant does.

Flow manager: There are more than 900 million doctor office visits each year and more than half of those are to primary care physicians.1 Someone has to make sure that all those patients are seen as effectively and efficiently as possible. Could that be you? As a Medical Assistant, you would have access to Electronic Medical Records and Client Relationship Management systems that would show you who is coming in, what they need, and where they have to go.

Cleanliness champion: It’s not enough for a doctor’s office to look clean. It needs to be spotless and germ free. You’ll learn a lot about the importance of sterilization procedures and the safe disposal of biohazards in your Medical Assistant Program. But when you work in an actual primary care facility, you’ll want to go above and beyond.

Right hand man or woman: It’s the “assistant” in your title that often matters most to the doctors, nurses, and other medical staff you work with. How can you help them help their patients? Whether you’re taking vital signs, prepping patients for procedures, or getting medical equipment ready for use, you’re helping out. Many practices would be lost without the vital services their Medical Assistants provide.

Great communicator: Sometimes you’ll be the one person with whom a patient has the most contact. That means they may tell you things about how they feel and what they do when they’re not in the doctor’s office. Are things getting better—or worse? Are they taking their medications and following the advice of their doctor? You can pass along that important information to those who treat patients so they get the best care possible.

Patient advocate: Do you have a family member or friend who always has your back? One of the roles you can play as a Medical Assistant is to be your patients’ advocate. That means making sure that their needs are understood by everyone on the team. You’ll have to pay attention to the details of your patients’ care and also what’s going on in their lives. You’ll also need to know who can help them, whether it’s your supervising nurse or someone who works with them in social services.

Healthcare coach: Once a patient has that list of what they’re supposed to do and take, and when they’re supposed to do it, they sometimes need a little encouragement. As a Medical Assistant, you can translate what the physician says into a language your patients understand. Then you can be a cheerleader to their success, offering up an Atta Boy/Girl when they’re working hard to get better. And reminding them of all the reasons they have to get healthy when they’re falling short.

If the role of a Medical Assistant sounds like an important—and busy—job, you’re right! If it sounds like one you’d be interested in, check out the Medical Assistant Program at Charter College. You could complete our blended learning program in as little as 10 months. It includes a 180 hour externship so you could get some hands-on, real world experience –maybe even in a primary care facility.