Though both administrative and clinical medical assistants manage and supervise some of the elements in the health care practice, there’s a large difference between the two. In general, administrative medical assistant are in charge in handling clerical duties and are responsible in office operations while clinical medical assistants work more directly with physicians and patients. The extent of their scope of work depends under the state law which the health care office is located. Clinical medical assistants do fulfill some clerical duties in some instances most especially in smaller health care offices.
For medical administrative assistant they are primarily the first persons that patients and office staff see in a health care office. They are often placed at the front of the office or reception area. They are commonly referred to as the receptionist or medical secretary. A level of knowledge in computerized medical office software is also required for administrative medical assistants since they are in charge of filling in and updating medical files of patients, and organize lists of some equipments and supplies of the medical facility. Some knowledge in accounting and bookkeeping is also needed for billing and coding of accounts. Other operating skills on fax and copy machines may also be needed for communications.
Clinical medical assistants scope of work as mentioned, vary on the state law when dealing with patient care. But the common tasks they perform are recording medical histories, checking vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for physical examinations, purchasing or maintaining supplies and equipments and they are also in charge in keeping medical facilities neat and clean. Medication and special diets are also screened by clinical medical assistants. Seldom do clinical medical assistants interact with patients on waiting or reception areas except when they are there to call in the next patient.
Regardless of their duties both administrative and clinical medical assistant may work to about 40 hours a week. But can still depend on the size of the medical facility.
Administrative or clinical capacities of medical assistants may be determined during the national certification aside from their level of education. Both are also required to complete a year or two of training program which is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
The difference between administrative and clinical medical assistant can be equated to the front versus back of the office. But with these designated areas, both types of medical assistants work hand in hand in the success of operating the health care facility.