A gastroenterologist office specializes in treating patients suffering from digestive system disorders. This can include any medical problem stemming from the gastrointestinal tract--the digestive organs found from mouth to anus, including the stomach and intestines. Medical assistants play an important role in the care and experience of the gastroenterology patient.
Medical assistants perform many routine tasks to help expedite the efficiency and productivity of a medical practice by assisting physicians in their duties. In a gastroenerology office, as in other specialized medical practices, medical assistants take on both administrative and clinical tasks, and often report directly to a physician or other practitioner.
In a gastroenerologist office, medical assistants update and file medical records, handle patient insurance information and correspondence, schedule appointments, answer phone calls and greet patients. They may also have clinical duties, depending on state law, including conducting basic laboratory tests, checking patient vital signs, recording medical histories, explaining treatments and preparing patients for procedures on behalf of the physician.
As medical assistants deal closely with the public, they must have excellent communication skills. They must maintain a clean appearance and have a pleasant, friendly manner. Medical assistants must also have strong organizational skills, a basic technological understanding, an eye for detail and a respect for patient confidentiality.
A minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent is required, and a medical assistant receives on-the-job training. Although medical assistants do not universally need formal postsecondary education, a health care degree helps for advancement purposes or employment with more prestigious or specialized practices. Vocational or technical schools and colleges offer medical assisting classes.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, medical assistants working in private physician offices earned an annual median salary of $28,710. This position may offer hourly or salary-based compensation. Salaries fluctuate depending on experience, education and location.