A podiatric medical assistant is a medical assistant who specialized in the field of podiatry, which is a branch of medicine that focuses on the foot, ankle, and lower leg. Medical assistants perform the routine activities for a physician in order to keep the medical office running smoothly. The duties of a podiatric medical assistant vary greatly depending on position, certification, and local laws, but commonly include a mixture of administrative and clinical duties. In some states, podiatric medical assistant duties may include assisting the physician in minor surgeries.
A podiatric medical assistant's responsibilities may include ordering, sorting, and storing supplies and restocking exam rooms. Other tasks are likely to involve cleaning exam areas, setting up instruments and equipment and cleaning the sterilizer according to the maintenance schedule. Some assistants are responsible for greeting patients, answering the office phones, managing payroll, performing data entry and scheduling appointments.
A podiatric medical assistant's duties include keeping a record of the patient's medical history and vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to the patient and answering any questions the patient may have. More hands-on assistance may entail helping elderly patients take off and put on their shoes and move around the exam area, preparing the patient for a procedure by giving a foot bath and clipping their toenails, and bandaging the patient's feet. Many assistants are required to take and develop x-rays of the patient's legs, ankles or feet, cast for orthotics and apply fiberglass casts to the ankle or foot. The assistant will also help with diabetic foot exams and noninvasive peripheral arterial exams, where permitted by state law.
Each state has its own laws that govern the procedures in which a medical assistant is allowed to participate. These are referred to as Scope of Practice Laws and can vary greatly throughout the US. In many states, podiatric medical assistant who receive certification through the American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA) are allowed to assist a doctor in minor surgeries at their local hospital or surgery center. These minor surgical procedures may range from ingrown nail removal to bunion surgery.