There are several types of medical assistants, people who perform tasks to make sure that the operation of medical facilities runs smoothly and efficiently. Among them are those who specifically take care of basic clinical tasks. These health care professionals are known as clinical medical assistants.
Some of the common duties of clinical medical assistants include taking vital signs of patients, conducting in-office screening tests, collecting and preparing specimens to send to diagnostic laboratories, and recording medical histories. In some places, clinical medical assistants may handle other tasks such as preparing and administering medications, applying bandages, taking electrocardiograms and X-rays, maintaining examining rooms, and purchasing and stocking medical equipment. Clinical medical assistants usually work under the supervision of physicians.
Clinical Medical Assistants vs. Other Medical Assistants
Clinical medical assistants differ from other types of medical assistants. For example, administrative medical assistants are largely responsible for the nonmedical tasks of the workplace, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, and handling billing and bookkeeping. There are also specialized types of clinical medical assistants, such as ophthalmic medical assistants, who work under ophthalmologists in providing eye care.
Most clinical medical assistants can be found in physicians' offices, hospitals and outpatient care centers. Although most of them work the traditional 40-hour week, some clinical medical assistants may work part time or evening or weekend shifts.
Most aspiring clinical medical assistants either get a diploma, which can be earned within a year, or an associate degree, which can be earned in two years. Diploma and associate degree programs are usually offered in technical/vocational schools and community colleges. Coursework includes subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmaceutical principles, clinical and diagnostic procedures, first aid and medical terminology. Professional associations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and American Medical Technologists (AMT) award certification credentials that can enhance the body of knowledge and earning potential of clinical medical assistants.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to salary.com, as of 2010, the average clinical medical assistant makes around $30,000 a year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of clinical medical assistants to grow by 34 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average for all U.S. occupations.
2016 Salary Information for Medical Assistants
Medical assistants earned a median annual salary of $31,540 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, medical assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $26,860, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $37,760, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 634,400 people were employed in the U.S. as medical assistants.