Medical Assistants, also known as “clinical assistants” are healthcare professionals, trained and certified in paramedical courses, work in hospitals, clinics, laboratories or other healthcare facilities alongside doctors, physicians and nurses. They perform various clinical and administrative tasks such as assisting doctors in operation theatres or performing laboratory tests for the diagnosis of a disease.
Courses for medical assistants in India are offered at Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate and Post Graduate level.
|Certificate Program||6 months- 2 years|
|Diploma Program||3 years|
|Degree Program||3-4 years|
|Post Graduate Program||1-2 years|
Types of Medical Assistant Courses
- Physical Therapy Assistant
- Nursing Assistant
- Dental Assistant
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They aid patients who have challenges with mobility due to illness or disease. They perform certain physical therapy sessions under the supervision of physiotherapists
PTA’s are thus assigned tasks specific to patients with challenges in movement and thereby help in relieving their pain and encourage the patient to do more movement.
PTA’s may also be assigned for home care services for physically challenged patients.
Nursing assistants provide care to patients in nursing homes or home care facilities. They assist the patient in their day to day tasks such as cleaning, bathing, dressing, eating and grooming. They provide personal assistance to patients who have challenges performing these chores themselves. Nursing assistants handle several patients altogether and thus this job role comes with a requirement for very good people skills. NAs take care of several patients that require different types of care
NAs are required to note down or record the activities of such patients as well as have good communication skills to perform the job effectively.
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These are healthcare professionals that are involved in patients’ blood collection, testing and storage. A phlebotomist must be well aware of the procedure and should perform the task with utmost care. Their main role is to collect blood from the patient using the proper procedure called venipuncture. A phlebotomist works under the supervision of a Medical Lab Technician or MLT.
Dental assistants work in the dental care setting and are involved in various tasks relating to the patient that includes, including providing care to the patient, maintaining the patient record, performing x-rays and scheduling appointments. Major responsibilities include: Ensuring that the patients are comfortable in the dental chair, Preparing patients and the work area for the procedures, sterilizing instruments needed during the procedure, handing over instruments to dentists during the procedures, using suction hoses and other equipment whenever necessary, working with patients on billing and payment.
Medical assistant job roles include administrative and clinical care of patients in conjunction with the nurses and doctors. They are involved in duties such as, filing and updating medical records, scheduling appointments, preparing patients for examination and carrying out diagnostic tests. Let us understand these roles in detail:
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Medical assistants may have different tasks in varied work environments. For example, tasks in a hospital are slightly different from that in a clinic. In a hospital setting, the tasks assigned are more specific and since the number of staff is more, each person adheres to their specific duties, while in a clinical setting the medical assistant has to do a lot of roles altogether from welcoming the patient and making him feel comfortable to removing stitches or sutures, but some duties remain common and in general, these are a few of the tasks that a medical assistant performs on a day to day basis:
- General patient care
- Checking the vital signs of the patient
- Helping the patients understand the medical treatments
- Getting the patient ready for examinations/procedures
- Performing and setting up electrocardiograms (EKG)
- Performing venipuncture
- Collecting patient specimens for diagnosis
- Giving injections and vaccinations
- Timely change of dressings
- Administration of medication (under the direction of a physician)
Medical records are an important part of patient care, thus maintaining the same is also a task that should be done with utmost care. Thus the administrative role of a medical assistant includes maintaining this record and apart from that, depending on the work setting, i.e. hospital or clinic other duties such as, billing, data and insurance analyses are also part and parcel of their work. Duties such as:
- Welcoming patients
- Attending phone calls
- Maintaining patients’ medical record
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Filling insurance forms
- Maintaining medical inventory
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While a few colleges offer the course to the students who have completed the 10th class from a recognized board, others offer the degree program to the students who have completed class 12th.
To become a medical assistant one must have the relevant degree, which starts from the certificate level. All students that have completed the 12th standard with the relevant stream are eligible to apply for the training program which provides a certificate that is the minimum requirement for applying for the role of a medical assistant.
While the job role is very generic, some specific degree/diploma holders are also eligible to apply for the same job role, for example, OTT, MLT, EMT and DMLT Course. These courses are readily available at Virohan for a very nominal fee, which includes hands-on internship experience.
For a medical assistant, the work environment includes the working space which is within a healthcare setting such as hospitals, laboratories, clinics, etc. The main responsibility of a medical assistant is patient care. However the domains may be different in different work settings, in clinics both administrative and clinical roles are performed by the same person, while in big shot hospitals specific roles are given to different individuals.
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A medical assistant should be very well versed with medical terminology and should be compassionate towards the patients apart from that he/she should have relevant communication skills.
The professional must be well versed with the technical skills required to do the job and should be able to communicate effectively with the patient and the physician. The average salary for a medical assistant ranges from 2-6 LPA.
Must have records and inventory management skills and a strong customer service
While a medical assistant is involved in generic tasks or overall care of the patient, other paramedical jobs such as OTT( Operation Theatre Technician), MLT (Medical Laboratory Technician), EMT( Emergency Medical Technician), etc are involved in more specific job roles.
Example, an OTT is required to assist in surgery and prepare the patient as well as the Operation Theatre before the operation, The OT Technician is required to have the technical know-how of the surgery so that they can prepare the patient as well as the surgical part before the operation is conducted. The technician is required to know the details of the surgery beforehand so that he can assist properly during the procedure. These job roles come with specialized tasks and the training provided is also specific. Apart from the technical aspect, the average salary of the specialized paramedics is more than that of a Medical assistant.