medical assisting frequently asked questions

10 FAQs for Medical Assistants

Updated By Staff Writer on June 25, 2020

What Can Medical Assistants Do and Other Questions

If you’ve ever had a question about medical assistants and what they do, you’ve come to the right place. Browse the questions below to learn more.

What Can a Medical Assistant Do?

A medical assistant performs both administrative and clinical duties within a healthcare facility, including medical offices and office clinics. They can act as a healthcare professional and administrator simultaneously.

What else can medical assistants do?

Assistants can specialize in either administrative or medical roles depending upon which kind of work speaks to you, and the requirements of the specific job.

Are There Tasks Medical Assistants Cannot Do?

While they can serve in a clinical role, there are many tasks a medical assistant cannot do, including:

  • Proscribing treatment plans
  • Providing or revealing a diagnosis
  • Writing medication prescriptions
  • Operating lasers, x-rays, and other complicated equipment
  • Administering IV medications

In other words, medical assistants are not allowed to act as primary care physicians, rather serving in a supportive role.

What Is the Next Step After Becoming a Medical Assistant?

There are several options for job growth after becoming an assistant, including becoming a registered nurse or a health information manager, or being promoted into leadership roles. Generally speaking, job advancements will require you to gain more education in order to obtain them.

Medical assistants can advance in their roles by completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, which is especially necessary if you are considering becoming a nurse.

What is the next step after becoming a medical assistant? Ultimately, that step is up to you.

Do Employers Recognize an Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting?

Absolutely. An associate’s degree not only provides the necessary training that you’ll need as a medical assistant, but it may also makes you seem like a much more well-rounded candidate, as you are required to learn a wider range of topics in order to obtain the degree.

What Is the Difference Between a Medical Assistant Diploma and Medical Assistant Degree?

Generally speaking, it takes a student about two years to complete a medical assistant degree, while a diploma only takes about a year to obtain. In addition, a medical assistant diploma will only focus on the tasks that a medical assistant typically performs, while an associate’s degree covers a broader range of topics.

What Other Jobs Can a Medical Assistant Do?

In addition to being an administrative and/or clinical medical assistant, assistants can also do a variety of other jobs, including:

  • Phlebotomy technician
  • Medical office assistant
  • Surgical tech (in some states, see your state’s requirements for confirmation)
  • Ward clerk
  • Claims examiner
  • And more

Medical assistants can also advance in their career to become a lead medical assistant or healthcare administrator.

How Many Hours Does a Medical Assistant Work?

Typically, medical assistants will work 40 hours a week on a full-time basis. However, this isn’t always the case. Depending on the facility there may be job opportunities that may only require part-time hours. This depends entirely on the policies of the healthcare facility that you are working for.

What Is a Passing Score on the NHA Medical Assistant Certification Exam?

The minimum passing score for the NHA Medical Assistant Certification Exam is 390.1 However, the National Healthcareer Association is able to change the minimum passing score whenever they feel it’s appropriate.

The exam takes three hours and is difficult, so it’s imperative that you study well if you are looking to pass.

How Long is a CMA Certification Good For?

After obtaining your CMA credential, you’ll need to renew this credential every 5 years. Fortunately, the CMA is offered year-round, so you can easily set up an appointment to take the exam again.

If you are planning to gain a CMA credential, you’ll need to take the exam within 12 months of graduation.

What Is the Difference Between Medical Assistant and LPN?

While these are similar positions, there are differences between a medical assistant and a licensed practical nurse. The biggest difference is probably that a medical assistant will focus mainly on assisting a doctor or nurse and help to complete medical paperwork for the patient, while a nurse will focus mainly on the care of the patient.

It also takes more education to become a licensed nurse.

Learn More

Want to learn more about becoming a medical assistant? Visit our Medical Assisting degree page and learn how to begin on this career path today.