Assistants are mandatory for any medical practice. They are responsible for various administrative tasks, from handling phone calls and emails to greeting patients.
Medical assistants are vital in a healthcare team. However, not all assistants in a medical setting are equipped for every healthcare-related task.
The difference between a clinical medical assistant and a medical assistant becomes prominent here. While the distinction might seem slight, the duties and responsibilities of each position can be quite different.
Below, we conduct a clinical medical assistant vs. medical assistant comparison to explain this difference in detail.
What is a medical assistant?
An administrative medical assistant is responsible for performing clerical duties in a medical office. They work directly with patients and insurance companies. Plus, they work with other medical professionals to ensure the smooth operation of the office.
They may also be responsible for scheduling appointments and maintaining medical records. Depending on your practice, they may bill patients. Their responsibilities include:
Dealing with phone calls
Nowadays, most patients prefer to communicate with medical offices by email or phone. Medical assistants are responsible for fielding these calls.
They might have to give the patient directions to the office. Or, they might have to relay a message to the doctor. If the patient has a question about their bill, the medical assistant assists them.
Checking patients in
Medical assistants have to check patients in. This process differs based on the kind of medical practice they work in. For example, in a dermatology practice, patients might have to fill out paperwork about their allergies and medications.
In a family practice, the medical assistant may ask the patient why they're there and take their vitals. In an optometry clinic, the medical assistant will review the patient's insurance information.
There's a lot of paperwork involved in any medical practice. This paperwork includes insurance forms, disability forms, and patient information. The medical assistant is in charge of assembling paperwork.
They might have to fill out certain forms. For example, the medical assistant has to complete insurance forms with patients' information.
Filing medical histories
Physicians must know about a patient's medical history before treating them. The medical assistant is responsible for filing this information.
They will pull the records from the patient's previous physician. If the patient is new, however, the medical assistant will have to gather the information from them.
Medical assistants also have to accept payments from customers, so they must know how to use the office's billing system. They might have to take cash, check, or credit card payments.
Contacting insurance companies
Insurance companies are necessary in the medical field. The medical assistant is responsible for contacting them for prior authorization for tests or procedures.
Since a medical assistant's job is administrative, they can work remotely, too. For example, a remote medical assistant can do all the tasks of a traditional medical assistant while not being physically present in the office.
To learn more about how Hello Rache can help your medical practice save time and money with qualified virtual assistants, book a call with our team.
What is a clinical medical assistant?
A clinical medical assistant is a medical professional who works in a clinic setting, providing patient care under a licensed physician's supervision. Clinical medical assistants are responsible for many tasks. Some of them include:
Taking medical histories
Depending on the type of medical practice, clinical medical assistants take patients' medical histories. For instance, they might collect the following information:
- History of the current illness
- Past medical history
- Family medical history
- Surgical history
- Social history (smoking, drinking, drug use, etc.)
Physicians use this information to make treatment decisions. Having these details is also imperative before scheduling a patient for surgery.
Administering injections and medications
Some clinical medical assistants administer injections and medications. For example, they might give flu shots or allergy shots to patients.
Some clinics train their clinical medical assistants to start IVs. Others might have their medical assistants draw blood.
Clinical medical assistants who work in clinics prepare rooms for patient examinations. They might stock rooms with the necessary supplies. They might also disinfect rooms between patients.
Clinical medical assistants provide patient education. For example, they might teach patients how to properly care for wounds, or they might instruct patients on how to take their medications.
For example, if a patient has to take insulin twice a day, the clinical medical assistant shows them how to do it. They might even provide a demonstration.
Preparing samples for lab tests
Before a lab can test a patient's blood or urine, a clinical medical assistant has to prepare the sample. This includes:
- Labeling the specimen
- Collecting the specimen
- Sending the specimen to the lab
- Collecting the reports
Clinical medical assistants might also collect other types of samples, such as tissue samples or cultures. However, they need specialized training for that.
Recording patient vitals
Clinical medical assistants conduct various types of physical examinations. For example, they might:
- Measure a patient's height, weight, and blood pressure
- Test a patient's vision
- Listen to a patient's heart and lungs
Additionally, they record patient vitals, such as.
- Body temperature
- Respiratory rate
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
Physicians need these vitals to diagnose and treat patients properly.
Clinical medical assistants also document changes in a patient's vitals. These changes might be an indication of a more serious condition.
Clinical medical assistants work closely with patients. Thus, they must be professional and have an excellent bedside manner.
They should also be able to handle a fast-paced work environment. Even more importantly, they should be comfortable working with blood and other bodily fluids.
Qualities of a medical assistant
A medical assistant must have several qualities to thrive in the workplace. When hiring a medical assistant, look for the following attributes.
- Detail orientation: A medical assistant's job is to take care of the details of each patient's visit. This means that they will be responsible for keeping track of medical records and files. They need to be able to enter data accurately and find information when requested.
- Technical skills: Medical assistants should know how to use computers and medical equipment, such as thermometers. They should also be familiar with electronic medical records (EMRs).
- Administrative skills: Most medical assistants schedule appointments, check in patients, and answer phone calls, so they must have excellent administrative skills. This means they should be able to prioritize tasks. They should also demonstrate proper etiquette on the phone.
- Analytical skills: Medical assistants must be able to understand and follow medical charts. They should be able to identify patterns and trends.
Qualities of a clinical medical assistant
A clinical medical assistant has more clinical responsibilities than administrative, so they should have the following skills and knowledge.
- Bedside skills: Bedside skills refer to how a medical professional interacts with patients. Clinical medical assistants should be caring for patients and their families. They should also show empathy. Plus, they need to respect patients' wishes.
- Transcription skills: Clinical medical assistants need to record patient histories and medical charting. This requires excellent spelling, grammar, and vocabulary skills.
- Clinical skills: Clinical medical assistants should know how to take patients' vital signs. They should also know how to measure blood pressure and perform basic laboratory tests. Plus, they should be comfortable using a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and other standard medical tools.
- Familiarization with medical terminology: They should know common medical terms used in charting and transcription. This will help them understand the doctor's instructions.
Clinical assistant vs. medical assistant: salaries and benefits
On average, clinical assistants make up to $69,140 per year. While entry-level assistants earn less, they can expect raises as their experience increases. A clinical assistant's geographical location and educational background also play a role in their earnings.
The salaries of medical and clinical assistants also differ based on where they work. For instance, those employed in outpatient care centers can expect to earn more than those who work in physicians' offices.
When it comes to benefits, medical and clinical assistants are typically entitled to similar ones. Some of them are:
- Health insurance: You can offer dental, vision, and health insurance to your employees. This will help them stay healthy and productive.
- Paid time off: Most medical assistant jobs offer sick leaves, sabbaticals, and vacations. Working in the medical field can be hectic and tiring. It is good for your employees to get some time to unwind.
- Retirement plans: If you have a large practice and can afford it, you can offer retirement plans to your employees.
- Professional development opportunities: These could include paid conferences, continuing education opportunities, and training programs.
In addition to these benefits, clinical and medical assistants may be eligible for bonuses and commissions, depending on their employer.
Clinical assistant vs. medical assistant: education and training
Medical and clinical medical assistants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Clinical medical assistants may also need to have postsecondary education.
Medical assistants must complete a postsecondary medical assisting program. These programs are offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools. They typically last one year or less and lead to a certificate or diploma.
Some medical assistants must complete a two-year associate degree program in medical assisting. Professionals who learn dissection and nuclear medicine earn more than the national average.
Clinical medical assistants have more training than non-clinical medical assistants. For example, they learn to take and record electrocardiograms (EKGs), measure blood pressure, and draw blood. They may also learn to give injections and perform basic laboratory tests.
Certifications for medical assistants can include:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
All of these programs involve coursework and a written exam, so it's essential to recertify every two years.
When you hire medical assistants, you can offer them the chance to become certified in CPR and first aid. You may also assist them in taking education courses to keep up with the latest medical advancements.
You can offer them tuition reimbursement and time off for continuing education courses. Some clinics also offer certification bonuses.
Clinical medical assistant vs. medical assistant: which should you hire?
Whether you hire an administrative or clinical medical assistant may depend on the size of your practice, the patient population, the procedures you perform, and the type of assistance you require. These factors are written out in detail below.
- Size of practice: A smaller practice may only need one medical assistant to handle administrative duties. But a larger practice may require multiple medical assistants, each with specific job responsibilities.
- Patient population: If you see a lot of pediatric patients, you may want someone with experience working with children. If you have elderly patients, you may want to hire an administrative medical assistant to handle scheduling and insurance issues.
- Types of procedures: What procedures do you perform in your office? An administrative medical assistant may be all you need if you are a family practice doctor and mostly see patients for wellness visits. But if you're a surgeon who performs many types of procedures, you'll need someone with clinical skills to assist you.
- Type of assistance: What kind of help do you need? If you need someone to handle administrative tasks, such as scheduling and billing, an administrative medical assistant is a good choice. However, if you want someone to assist patients, administer injections, and prepare rooms, you'll need a clinical medical assistant.
Make sure you take the time to consider your needs before you hire a medical assistant. The right medical assistant can make all the difference in the efficiency of your practice.
Hire a virtual medical assistant for your practice
But how do you find a HIPAA-compliant assistant who knows the ins and outs of your practice? At Hello Rache, you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
Find a virtual assistant from Hello Rache to transform your practice and make the most of your time. Get in touch to learn more.