what is an administrative medical assistant

Administrative Medical Assistant vs. Clinical Medical Assistant: What’s the Difference?

Medical assistants work under the direct supervision of healthcare providers and oversee fundamental support services for medical facilities.

There are several different types of medical assistants, or titles that you can apply for within the medical assisting field. Many medical assistants are responsible for both administrative and clinical tasks while working in a medical setting. However, some medical assistants take care of only one aspect or the other. Thus, you may come across administrative medical assistant and clinical medical assistant jobs.

Administrative roles typically focus on the business, clerical, and organizational components of medical office management. Clinical medical assistants, meanwhile, help to coordinate the hands-on observation and care of patients.

Most medical assistants have versatile skill sets, due to their level of education. Medical assisting programs equip students with both administrative and clinical knowledge, preparing them to be highly sought-after professionals in the field.

Continue reading to discover:

  • Administrative vs. clinical medical assistant responsibilities
  • Administrative and clinical skills shared by medical assistants
  • Medical assisting program options, and
  • Forecasts for the field

Administrative Medical Assistant Responsibilities

Administrative medical assistants are experts in the management and organization of the medical office. Whether they work in a private practice or hospital setting, administrative medical assistants keep the facility running smooth. They file and organize patient documents, schedule and coordinate appointments, order medical supplies, and often collaborate with insurance companies. Administrative medical assistants are also some of the first people a patient sees when entering the healthcare facility.

In general, administrative medical assistants are responsible for the following job duties:

  • Adjusting patient accounts for issues like non-sufficient funds
  • Accurately inputting and updating patient data using electronic systems
  • Answering phones, assisting, and greeting patients
  • Applying HIPAA rules and regulations regarding privacy and the release of information
  • Billing and coding for insurance purposes
  • Compliance with public health statutes
  • Describing the financial obligations of patients for services rendered
  • Ensuring the timeliness and quality of a patient’s visit
  • Explaining technical medical information to patients
  • Filling out insurance forms
  • Handling essential finances and bookkeeping
  • Interpreting information on insurance cards
  • Interviewing patients to gather medical information
  • Performing additional clerical work as needed
  • Reporting incidents about patient care or illegal activities
  • Scheduling and triaging office appointments and procedures
  • Surpassing state standard practice and medical assistant scope of care
  • Taking inventory of medical supplies and equipment

Clinical Medical Assistant Responsibilities

Clinical medical assistants are well-versed in the structures and systems of the human body across the lifespan. They are knowledgeable in first aid, patient vitals, the infection cycle, and appropriate immunizations. Clinical medical assistants can detect abnormal test results in graphs and tables, and are familiar with Center for Disease Control regulations, dietary supplements, and special needs.

Depending on the state, clinical medical assistant duties may include the following:

  • Administering CPR, first aid, or medications as directed by a provider
  • Applying or changing bandages, dressings, or splints
  • Assessing the physical conditions of patients
  • Assisting physicians with medical procedures
  • Collecting biological specimens and testing supplies
  • Conducting diagnostic tests
  • Drawing blood
  • Explaining complex procedures to patients
  • Operating medical equipment
  • Performing patient screening and basic healthcare procedures
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Recording medical histories
  • Selecting appropriate PPE and sterilizing rooms
  • Taking vital signs
  • Wound care

Administrative and Clinical Medical Assistant Skills

Successful administrative and clinical medical assistants excel in the following skillsets:

  • Active listening
  • Advocacy for protective practices (plans and procedures concerning accidents, evacuations, fires, natural disasters, and other emergencies)
  • Coaching patients
  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Maintaining boundaries
  • Navigating telehealth platforms
  • Overcoming communication barriers
  • Personable and professional behaviors, ethics, and morals
  • Respect for diversity, inclusion, and belonging
  • Utilizing high-quality community resources to facilitate referrals

Medical Assisting Program Options

It’s standard for medical assistants to receive formal postsecondary education such as a medical assisting certificate or associate degree program. Clinical internships are customarily required for all medical assistants to graduate, and academic program completion can range from one to two years.

At career-focused institutions like Goodwin University, students pursuing a certificate in Medical Assisting can complete the accredited program in as few as 12 months. Likewise, at Goodwin, students earning their associate degree in Medical Assisting can obtain college credits and their degree in as few as 16 to 20 months.

Goodwin students receive an engaging education with individualized attention. Additionally, the University offers medical assisting students flexible course schedules — with morning, evening, on-campus, online, and hybrid offerings.

Future medical assistants attaining their certificate at Goodwin can become licensed during their final semester. Similarly, learners studying for their associate degree in Medical Assisting are eligible to sit for further certifications upon graduation.

Job placement for medical assisting students is also offered at Goodwin, and each graduate proudly enters the field with existing career competencies and experience.

Medical Assisting Field Forecast

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical assistants is projected to grow 16 percent from 2021 to 2031. With anticipated growth much faster than the average for all occupations, experts estimate 123,000 new medical assistant job openings each year over the decade.

Medical assistants can work in the front of medical offices or in a more practical, patient-facing role, depending on their job title. Both administrative and clinical medical assistants have their pick from multiple career options, such as exciting employment in the following areas:

  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Healthcare practitioner offices
  • Inpatient and outpatient units
  • Medical laboratories
  • Private and public hospitals
  • Specialty practices
  • Urgent care locations
  • Walk-in clinics, and more!

In May 2021, the BLS reported the median annual wage for medical assistants as $37,190. The same year, medical assistants living in Connecticut made an average yearly salary of $41,010.

Curious about a rewarding career as a medical assistant? Learn more about Goodwin’s Medical Assisting programs and discover how you can make a meaningful difference every day by doing what you love.