Most medical assistants, including certified medical assistants (CMAs), work in doctors' offices, clinics and hospitals. A medical assistant floater works for different physicians within a large practice or a medical complex. These assistants have administrative, clinical and laboratory responsibilities, and the duties of a medical assistant floater may vary widely among different offices.
A medical assistant floater must be flexible. She might focus more on administrative duties in one office and more on clinical duties in another. Some floaters learn each morning where they will be working that day and what their responsibilities will be. The medical assistant floater may need to travel to different parts of a city or region each day if working for a practice with numerous locations.
A medical assistant floater may have receptionist and computer-related responsibilities. In some offices, he might answer telephones, schedule patient appointments and register patients at the front desk. In practices involving walk-in patients and emergency situations, the medical assistant may be responsible for triage. Computer responsibilities include creating spreadsheets and entering data, updating patient records, doing word processing of correspondence and completing insurance forms.
Medical assistant floaters also have clinical duties, which will vary from office to office when working for physicians with different specialties. The medical assistant records patient medical histories and explains procedures to patients. She takes vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, draws blood for testing and prepares patients for X-rays. The medical assistant also removes sutures and changes sterile dressings. An office may need a medical assistant floater to set up and restock exam rooms, and clean and sterilize medical instruments and surgical equipment.
Laboratory responsibilities of a medical assistant include preparing blood samples, urine specimens, pap smears and throat cultures for analysis. Some medical assistants perform basic laboratory tests on these specimens as well, then enter test results on forms and on computer records.
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.