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Internists are doctors who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and diseases in adults. At an internist's office, a variety of professionals work together to care for patients, and medical assistants form an important part of this team.
The role of a medical assistant in an internist's office is to perform routine tasks that require only minimal amounts of medical training, allowing nurses and doctors to focus on providing more advanced care.
In an internist's office, medical assistants greet patients, lead them to the examining area, check their vital signs and may collect specimens for diagnostic testing, like throat cultures or blood or urine samples. Assistants also set up the examination room before each appointment.
In some internists' offices, medical assistants may perform clerical functions as well, such as answering phones, making appointments, submitting insurance claims, updating and organizing patient medical records and stocking supplies.
In order to perform their role in an internist's office, medical assistants must receive post-secondary education, typically through completing a one-year diploma program at a medical or technical training school or a two-year associate degree program at a junior or community college.
As of May 2008, medical assistants who worked in physicians' offices averaged annual salaries of $28,820, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.