Medical assistants play a very valuable role, but they are NOT nurses !
Medical assistants play a very valuable
role, but they are NOT nurses !

Medical assistant duties and responsibilities

You might be wondering, what is a medical assistant and what exactly does a medical assistant do? Medical assistants (MA) perform a variety of duties. These duties vary from job to job. Their medical director assigns MA duties. A medical director is a physician under whom the medical assistants work. MA help the doctor’s office run efficiently. Typically, they work in both the front and back areas of the doctor’s office.

Medical assistants are unlicensed caregivers who work primarily in doctors’ offices and clinics, although they may also work in hospitals in some states. Each state determines what a medical assistant is allowed to do, so their tasks may vary from one state to another. In all states, however, a medical assistant must work under the supervision of a doctor or licensed nurse such as an RN or LPN/LVN.

Patient Assessments

Initial patient assessments are a large part of the MA responsibilities.

  • Assessments involve checking a patient’s vital signs, performing a physical exam and obtaining the patient’s medical history. Vital signs include blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate and temperature.
  • The physical exam involves measuring height and weight, as well as looking for deformities or irregularities on the patient’s body.
  • A medical assistant obtains a medical history by asking patients questions about their medical conditions, medications and allergies. The MA records any findings into the patient charts and alerts the physician of the results.

Testing Duties

1. A doctor will tell the MA which tests to perform on each patient. A MA follows protocols that explain in detail how each test is to be performed. Protocols are typically written by the doctor.

2. Medical assistants are also responsible for collecting samples for laboratory testing. They draw blood when the doctor orders blood work. Medical assistants process samples. They pack and ship samples to their appropriate destination.

Preparing Patients

Preparing patients is another duty performed by a MA.

  • They get the patient ready for testing, treatment and procedures that the doctor may perform. Medical assistants expose any affected areas by removing bandages or clothing. When needed, they shave any necessary body parts.
  • MA follow their protocols, which will explain in detail how and when to prepare the patient. For example, a MA will prepare a male cardiac patient for his EKG test by shaving areas in which the electrodes are placed to assure they stick properly to the skin. They would dry any moist skin where electrodes will be applied. The MA will apply the EKG electrodes, attach the lead wires and begin the test.
  • Once the test is complete, the MA will print the collected data, remove the leads and electrodes from the patient and help the patient re-dress if assistance is necessary.

Clerical Duties

Front office duties for a MA include clerical duties such as filing and answering phones. They also greet patients and obtain their personal information such as address and insurance information. A MA compiles patient charts and files them appropriately. They keep the office organized, allowing it to run more efficiently.

Article Written by Rachel Dennis

Rachel Dennis works as both a professional writer and health care provider. She has been a licensed health care provider since 1998, with work experience as a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician. She has been writing since 1994 and has been published both on-line and in print.


3 Responses to “Medical assistant duties and responsibilities”
  1. Allan says:

    If a medical assistant dose not want to give a man a physical or be in the same room as a man getting one do I have to as part of my job ?

  2. Lamanda says:

    What are at least three risks associated with not properly opening and closing a medical office and the consequences for not following the procedure?

  3. Heather Hackler smith says:

    NC. When an Office Clerical worker is required to suddenly perform MA duties what are the liabilities to the practice if any? I was hired as an Office Manager and suddenly have found myself required to be a Medical Assistant.

    thank you for a timely response.


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