The Different Types of Medical Assistants

The demand for primary care is growing, and increasing alongside it is the need for healthcare support staff. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an upward number of healthcare practices, clinics, and medical facilities are seeking trained professionals to take on both the clinical and administrative facets of the field. Among the many fast-growing healthcare careers today is that of a medical assistant.

Throughout the country, nearly 139,000 medical assisting jobs are expected to open up by the year 2024. Overall employment rates for medical assistants are expected to increase 24 percent during that same period. If you are considering a career in medical assisting, now is the perfect time to get started.

Medical assisting is a multi-faceted field, in which professionals must have an understanding of both the clinical and administrative duties involved. This means that, while medical assistants typically work under the supervision of a licensed physician, their responsibilities and training are quite extensive.

To become a medical assistant today, most employers require that you hold a medical assisting degree, postsecondary certificate, or comprehensive on-the-job experience. The level of education, training, and certification you choose to pursue will be largely dependent on the type of medical assistant you wish to become.

There are several different types of medical assistants, all of which are vital to the healthcare field. In general, medical assistants work alongside a team of nurses, physicians, and other health professionals to deliver top-quality patient care. Medical assistant duties can range from office management and scheduling appointments to performing lab tests and assisting with patient exams.

To help you take the next step in your career, Goodwin College has outlined the different types of medical assistants, their roles and responsibilities, and the required training needed to fulfill a job.

Clinical Medical Assistants

In the advancing field of healthcare, clinical medical assistants are in high demand. Clinical medical assistants are dynamic members of a medical team, working alongside physicians, surgeons, and nurses to provide direct patient care. If you are interested in working directly with patients and are passionate about the hands-on aspects of the medical field, clinical medical assisting may be the right career path for you.

On the day-to-day, clinical medical assistants can be found administering medications, collecting laboratory specimens, performing tests such as EKGs, taking patient vital signs, dressing wounds, and assisting with minor medical procedures. In this position, you may also sterilize medical instruments, prepare patients and rooms for exams, record patient medical histories, and educate patients and their families on treatment plans and procedures.

Clinical medical assistants can work in a range of environments, including physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient centers, and specialty practices. The duties of clinical medical assistants are governed by state-specific regulations and may vary place to place.

Because of their many responsibilities, clinical medical assistants require a specialized skill set and working knowledge of medical procedures. To land a career is a clinical medical assistant, one should complete an accredited medical assistant program at the college-level. At Goodwin College, you can finish your training in as few as 12 months – 25 percent less time than other medical assisting schools! Here, you can also earn your medical assistant certificate while working towards an associate degree.

Administrative Medical Assistants

While clinical medical assistants work directly with patients, administrative medical assistants manage the clerical side of the medical office and therefore take on a pivotal role in in the practice. It is the administrative medical assistants that keep the business running smoothly, ensuring that insurance claims are properly filed, patients are taken care of, and physicians are not over-booked.

According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, administrative medical assistants are typically responsible for assisting new patients and their families, managing the appointment schedule, contacting insurance companies and filing insurance claims, as well as entering patient histories and data into the systems appropriately. Typically, administrative medical assistants can be found filling out insurance forms, coding medical information, scheduling patient appointments, answering telephones, processing patient payments, maintaining office inventory, and ordering medical supplies.

To be great in this administrative position, you must have strong written and oral communication skills, so that you can effectively engage with patients and their families. You must also have good phone etiquette, an aptitude for computers and the latest medical software, as well as a basic understanding of medical terminology. This (and more!) can all be learned in a medical assistant training program.


If you enjoy both the clinical and administrative aspects of the medical field, there is still a position for you. In fact, most medical assistants take on both clinical and administrative duties in their day-to-day work. Clinical medical assistants may also assist administrative staff at the office’s front desk. Administrative medical assistants may also prepare exam rooms and record patient medical histories. Your duties will ultimately vary with the location, specialty, and size of your medical practice.

For this reason, Goodwin’s medical assistant school trains students for each and every duty that may come their way. Through hands-on classroom experiences, you will gain the skills and knowledge needed to perform clinical and administrative duties in a working healthcare practice. Upon completion of our program, you will be eligible to apply for the Certified and Registered Medical Assistant examinations.

Specialized Medical Assistant

Just as doctors and nurses may choose a specialization in medicine, medical assistants may do the same. Among the many types of medical assistants are those that choose a focus area of study (such as podiatry, optometry, and other ophthalmic fields), often referred to as “specialized medical assistants.”

There are many types of medical assistant specializations and certifications available today. There are also many specialized medical assistant career options for those holding a postsecondary degree. Education requirements for specialized medical assistants are typically the same as those for clinical medical assistants, but employers will require focused training in a particular area of study.

No matter which type of medical assistant you choose to become, know that you will be entering a thriving field and prosperous working environment, one full of integrity, good pay and benefits, and opportunities to help those in need.

Start your medical assisting career right here at Goodwin College. Visit us online or call 800-889-3282 to learn more.