A medical assistant performs many of the tasks that doctors, physician assistants, and registered nurses do. They will collect vital information about a patient’s condition and vital signs by asking questions and performing essential physical examinations. They also document this information in patients’ medical records. Medical assistants can prepare patients for examination or treatment by washing or disinfecting wounds, removing sutures, inserting ear drops, applying bandages to minor lacerations, assisting with casts or splints, changing dressings on burns, helping with ostomy appliances (such as colostomy bags), moving an injured person onto a stretcher or into an ambulance gurney/stretcher/chair seat; preparing equipment for X-ray images; positioning patients before X-ray images are taken; holding devices that keep patients immobile during X-ray images.

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Medical assistants can be found in all medical settings, but most work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, community health clinics, nursing homes, and home healthcare services. They are also employed by the federal government, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies making case management decisions for their clients receiving medical care outside the country. Medical assistants may work part-time or at night to accommodate another job they have during regular business hours.

The primary duty of a medical assistant is to assist doctors and nurses with various tasks such as answering patient questions and preparing them for examinations. Other duties include taking vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure and updating patients’ charts on their conditions and progress throughout their stay at the clinic. Medical assistants prepare the room by sterilizing equipment and moving patients to surgery suites in a surgery setting. They also monitor vital signs and alert nurses to any changes.

Medical Assistants need to perform well under pressure as they will often have multiple tasks that must be done quickly for one patient or during surgery to serve as an extra pair of hands for nurses and doctors. As such, good multitasking skills are essential in these roles.

General Requirements

To become a medical assistant, you would typically require a high school diploma before studying further at a community college or vocational school that offers programs accredited by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). You can find out if your program is AAMA-accredited by contacting the AAMA. Once you graduate and pass the AAMA certification exam, you will be ready to become a medical assistant in most states.


To stay competitive, aspiring medical assistants should consider earning additional certifications such as Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). Earning these credentials can increase your employment prospects and earning potential by adding skills to your resume that set you apart from other job applicants. In addition to the CMA and RMA certifications offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants, other organizations also provide medical assistant certifications, including American Medical Technologists (AMT), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Many employers will also look favourably on candidates with experience in their field, particularly those who have taken part in some form of continuing education.


As of 2018, Medical assistants can expect to earn a median salary of $30,000 per year. The employment of medical assistants is projected to grow by 30 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. The need for more medical assistance with an ageing population will contribute to this growth as people live longer but need increased health care services.

Other factors contributing to the demand for these positions include insurance companies wanting specific clinical knowledge before making case management decisions that affect clients receiving medical treatment outside of the country and state laws requiring particular paperwork be completed with each visit by medical staff, including registration and insurance forms.

Medical Assistant Requirements differ from state to state

Generally speaking, you would require a high school diploma before attending medical assistant training at a community college or vocational school. These would change as you move through all the states, as every state has its own Health body. Accredited programs are preferred by employers and can be found through the AAMA website, along with the certification requirements for graduates.

You’ll find more information on becoming a Medical Assistant on the MedAssistantEdu website.