The work of medical assistants is varied. They
assist physicians in their offices or other medical settings, performing
clerical and/or clinical duties.
Their clinical duties may include preparing patients
for examination and/or treatment, obtaining blood pressure, pulse,
and temperature, administering medication, assisting the physician
in the examination, performing phlebotomy and medical laboratory
procedures and electrocardiograms, taking x-rays, sterilizing equipment,
and assisting with minor office surgery. Clerical duties include
scheduling and receiving patients, maintaining medical records,
handling telephone calls, and assuming responsibility for billing,
collections, and insurance claims. Medical assistant responsibilities
vary from one office to another. In a small office the assistant
may be a generalist while in a large office the physician may expect
the assistant to perform either clerical or clinical duties, but
Areas of Specialization
Assistants may specialize in a particular area of medicine, such
as podiatry, rehabilitation, ophthalmology, and sports medicine.
Most medical assistants are employed in physicians' offices. They
may also work in hospitals, medical clinics, or health maintenance
organizations. They generally work 40-hour weeks, which may include
weekends. Work is usually very pleasant in clean, air-conditioned
offices. Uniforms may be required but a stipend may be paid for
them. Work schedules are often flexible and many employers are now
offering excellent fringe benefits.
The number of medical assistants employed in Florida in 2006 was
28,667. It is projected that in 2014 there will be 39,446. This
represents an annual average growth rate of 4.7 percent.
Length of Training/Requirements
Completion of a formal training program is preferred prior to employment;
however, medical assistants may be trained on the job. Formal training
programs are offered in schools of technology or community colleges.
Technology programs take one year or less to complete and result
in a certificate. Community college programs are usually two years
in length and award an associate degree. Students in these educational
programs take courses in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology,
clinical procedures, pharmacology, word processing, insurance coding
and billing, transcription, administrative office procedures, basic
laboratory procedures including phlebotomy, radiology procedures,
and emergency procedures, and medical office management. Some technology
schools and community colleges also have an externship training
component in addition to the course work. Applicants to the programs
must achieve 10th grade levels on the Test for Adult Basic Education
(TABE) prior to program completion.
Advancement can come with experience and additional training. Medical
assistants may move into management or administrative positions
without further education. Advancement in the clinical area requires
additional schooling, however. Articulation at some colleges and
universities is now in place. Students who are already certified
as medical assistants can seek a degree in such areas as "Health
Service Management," after completion of general education
requirements. The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered
Medical Assistant (RMA) can also be used for acceptance in some
of the college/university transitional programs such as nursing
and emergency medical services.
At this time, licensing is not available in the state of Florida.
However, medical assistants may voluntarily take the certification
examination offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants
to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or seek credentialing
by the American Medical Technologists to become a Registered Medical
The average hourly wage for medical assistants employed in Florida
was $13.75 in 2009.