What Does a Medical Assistant Do? You Should Ask, “What Don’t They Do?”

December 5, 2019


Thinking of starting an allied health career as a certified medical assistant? With excellent salaries, increasing demand, and a job that makes a difference in the lives of patients, you’ll be making a smart decision!

You may be wondering, “What does a medical assistant do?” You really should be asking, “What don’t they do?” 

In this short article, we lay out the many roles and responsibilities that these health professionals carry out in their day-to-day work. There are so many reasons to become a medical assistant!

Medical Assistant Job Description

When patients visit a doctor’s office or clinic, medical assistants (also known as MAs) are often the first person they see. Although some people may think of MAs as simple “paper pushers”, these health professionals are usually trained in both administrative and clinical responsibilities. They may also work in both roles, depending on their employer and team size. 

By taking on so many roles and responsibilities, the medical assistant allows the medical team to visit with more patients.

Clinical Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant


General Patient Care

You might see MAs speaking with anxious patients, informing them about procedures, and helping to answer non-medical questions to improve their visit. 

Checking Vital Signs

These can include heart rate, oxygen rate, blood pressure. When MAs conduct these checks, doctors and nurses have more time to provide more personal care.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

Certified MAs are trained to set up and perform EKGs for the physician.


We’re often asked, “Do medical assistants draw blood?” And while phlebotomists are important allied health professionals, medical assistants are taught to collect blood samples during their training.

Giving Injections and Vaccinations

Another common question we receive is, “Can medical assistants give vaccines?” The answer is an overwhelming, “Yes!” Employers are more interested in MAs who are comfortable (and trained) giving injections and vaccines to patients. This allows the medical team to provide more hands-on patient care.

Clerical Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

An experienced medical assistant can take over nearly all office manager duties (aside from hiring and firing, of course):


Reception Work 

This includes greeting patients, answering phones, and relaying messages to members of the team.

Patient Communication 

This is usually done on behalf of the physician and can range from prescription details to specific care instructions that patients need to follow up on.

Scheduling and Confirming Appointments

Appointments are the lifeblood of any practice or clinic. Medical assistants are expected to ensure that appointments are being filled and patients are reminded of upcoming visits.

Insurance Paperwork

Like medical billing experts, MAs check to see that insurance forms are properly filled out and processed. They may be required to contact insurance companies should discrepancies occur.

Stocking Supplies and Doing Inventory

Medical assistants keep rooms in clinics, practices, and hospitals well stocked with supplies doctors and nurses regularly use for their patients.

How Do You Become a Medical Assistant?

To join this field, you can learn through on-the-job training or an accredited medical assistant training program. Though some states don’t require MA certification, salary and hiring prospects greatly increase with the right training. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Assistant?

The answer depends on the medical assistant program that you apply to. Students can choose from a variety of diploma, associate’s, and MA certificate programs. Understandably, an MA degree takes four years and an associate’s degree takes two. 

The most popular option is an MA certificate program that gets you through your allied health training in less than one year. Along with an excellent education, accredited programs offer hands-on training via clinical internships.

Start Your Application Process Today!

Medical assistants are irreplaceable members of the allied health team. If you’re in the New Jersey area – and considering a future in this field – discover how easy it is to become a medical assistant!