Medical Assistant FAQs


When choosing your future career, nothing is more important than doing your research to better understand what the job entails and what steps will need to be completed to qualify for the position. To make the job easier, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about being a medical assistant. Here is what you need to know to jumpstart your career.


Q: What is a Medical Assistant?

A: Medical Assistants are an important part of any hospital or medical facility. These individuals perform clinical and administrative work to ensure that the facility runs smoothly and that every patient receives the highest-quality of care.

Medical assisting is one of the fastest-growing career tracks in the medical community. More and more jobs are becoming available to medical assistants, but they are also becoming more competitive. This has led many to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) to set them apart from other applicants. 


Q: What tasks do Medical Assistants perform?

A: A medical assistant’s work will depend on the kind of facility they work in, how many patients are seen daily, and the specialization of the physicians they work under. Administrative duties for a medical assistant may include the following:

  • Answering phones
  • Greeting patients
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Filing patient medical records
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Managing billing, bookkeeping, and correspondence
  • Using the facility’s computer software

The clinical duties of a medical assistant can vary greatly depending on what state the CMA works in. Some common clinical duties for CMAs include:

  • Explaining procedures to patients and their families
  • Taking medical histories
  • Helping patients prepare for examinations
  • Assisting a doctor during an exam
  • Performing laboratory tests
  • Offer patients instruction on medication usage and special diets
  • Drawing blood
  • Changing bandages
  • Taking electrocardiograms


Q: How is medical assisting different from other allied health professions?

A: Medical assisting is different from other allied health professions, such as being a nursing assistant or patient care technician, due to the cross training involved. While patient care technicians primarily care for the comfort of the patient, and nursing assistants primarily focus on following the nurses’ orders, medical assistants are known to do many different tasks. From assisting doctors, to performing tests on patients, to doing administrative work, medical assistants are known to have the most versatile job of the allied health professionals.


Q: What is the typical work week of a medical assistant?

A: Most medical assistants work a regular, 40-hour work week. However, it is possible to work as a part-time medical assistant. Due to the nature of hospital work, some medical assistants have schedules outside of the typical workday. Some work over the weekend or through the night as needed. However, medical assistants who work in doctor’s offices or other outpatient facilities may enjoy a standard 9-to-5 workday.


Q: Where do medical assistants work?

A: Medical assistants work wherever physicians are present. That means medical assistants can find work in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities such as doctor’s offices and clinics, but they can also be found in hospital settings.


Q: What do medical assistants earn?

A: Medical assistant compensation can vary based on location and years of experience. The average entry level medical assistant makes between $10.14 and $16.60 per hour. More experienced medical assistants can earn up to $21.22 in some areas.


Q: How long does it take to become a medical assistant?

A: The time it takes to become a medical assistant varies by program and by each individual student. For instance, a part-time CMA student will have to be in school longer than a full-time student. CMA training requires 40.5 credit hours, which would take one year if a student was attending full time.


Q: What does CMA training include?

A: Training programs prepare students for entry level medical assistant positions and are taught through a variety of methods. Many courses begin with a series of in-class lectures, which are followed by hands-on laboratory instruction. Most programs require course preparation, homework, and clinical externship instruction. To help prepare future medical assistants, lessons include lectures on standard medical practice, medical law and ethics, medical record keeping, medical communication, insurance, basic lab procedures, testing, and patient care.


Q: What is certification, and how is it obtained?

A: A CMA certification shows potential employers that a medical assistant has earned the highest credential possible for a medical assistant. To acquire a CMA, one must attend a medical assisting program that is accredited by the  Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Once completing the required courses, one must take and pass the CMA Certification Examination to become a CMA.


To have a competitive advantage over your peers, it is highly recommended to attend a medical training school that offers CMA certification. At Woodruff, you’ll gain real-world experience working alongside doctors and nurses, and we will even give you flexible scheduling options. Visit us online to learn more.

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