What is a Medical Assistant? What does a MA do?

If you are looking into being a Medical Assistant (MA), obtaining your MA Certificate by attending a trade school program or just curious about the career because someone told you they are a MA, read below to see what this job is all about.

You can explain what a MA is in just one sentence: Medical staff that is able to do a number of tasks in a medical environment. It’s a bit of a simplistic and not too specific answer but here is why. The reason for this is because every one of the 52 States in the union has its own requirements and responsibilities for MAs.

Most states DO NOT have a scope of practice for MAs. As a result what a MA can and can not do is very vague. In MOST STATES a MA has to attend a training program to be able to practice as a MA. Other states allow MAs to be trained on the job and do not require previous education, with that being said almost everyone hiring a MA is looking for that previous education. Be it a training program, a bachelors degree or and associates degree most jobs will require some sort of education and a bit of experience which is normally attained through externships. Keep in mind that an education will add value to you as an employee. What does that mean? It means you will get paid more than a MA that will be trained on the job.

Medical assistants are NOT NURSES! Even though MAs will likely work along side a nurse, I repeat they are NOT NURSES.

There are 2 different sides to being a MA. The clinical side and the administrative side.

This means the MA could be scheduling appointments for patients, schedule surgeries, fill out paperwork, run visits and treatments through the insurance verification process,  medical billing and coding.  

Now most clinics will use a MA for their clinic skills like: drawing blood, run the tests on the blood that is drawn, MA can all do limit scope X rays, EKGs, assist in sterile and non-sterile procedures, MA’s room patients. Rooming patients includes bringing them to the room and doing their vitals, update everything in that patients chart to include medications, allergies, new symptoms, review of systems, review all of the medical history and family medical history. MAs do more than just take the blood pressure! So in summary the MA is the clinical know it all.

All in all an MA is an integral part of the medical support staff and has an array of duties and responsibilities based on the state you practice in.


She is a great source of information. Please visit her youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi2tjpCe49UnBYkhUm5dluQ

Blog Post written by:
Dr. Eida Lopez
Medical Assistant Instructor