Anatomy and Physiology
Many tasks of a medical assistant require general knowledge of the body and how it works. It is also important to know how the various body systems interact with one another and to what diseases each is prone. You also need to understand a bit about things you cannot see, like microorganisms and cells. Anatomy and physiology questions on a medical assistant test will assess your knowledge in all of these areas.
A medical assistant can do many things to assist with the testing of patients and this testing can play a major role in the doctor’s ability to treat the patient appropriately. A diagnostic test is used to help assess the condition of the patient. There is much to learn about test procedures, including precautions to keep you safe while you are doing the tests. Other protocols ensure that the test results are absolutely accurate and help other medical professionals to use the results in a meaningful way. Finally, a medical assistant must do everything possible to protect the patient’s safety and well-being. This includes giving reassuring explanations of the procedures being done.
Financial Management and Insurance
Medical assistants are expected to help with clerical tasks in a medical office and this often includes managing payments and insurance. A certain amount of financial knowledge is needed in order to balance the books and keep track of monetary resources. Managing insurance claims and payments requires additional knowledge of vocabulary and proper procedures. A tremendous amount of data changes hands each day in a medical office and a medical assistant can play a large part in the process.
Law and Ethics
Basic knowledge of right and wrong would seem to be enough to assist in a medical office. There are, however, numbers of laws that have been passed to ensure the rights of all involved: the patients, practitioners, and support personnel. There are rules concerning who is certified for various jobs and tasks and there are rigid guidelines about the release of information. You must know and follow these laws and rules in order to work as a medical assistant.
Medical Office Management
The day-to-day operation of a medical office is possible only with a team approach by various people, doing various jobs. As a medical assistant, you may be responsible for some of the management functions of the office. This could include basic housekeeping and maintenance duties, as well as maintaining patient relationships. Computers play a big role in today’s medical office operation, so you need to know how to use their various functions, including scheduling, maintaining patient records, and other file maintenance.
A medical assistant is often called upon to help with routine procedures in the office setting. To do this well, you must be familiar with instruments, safety measures, and record-keeping guidelines. Part of your job may also involve patient intake and the measuring of vital signs. This requires accuracy in both measurement and recording. It also assumes you know the procedure for dealing with measurements that could indicate an emergency.
While medical assistants cannot prescribe medication, they are often asked to help with its administration. It is important to know the various drug administration routes and the proper procedure for using each one. Familiarity with the law is an important part of your pharmacology training because prescription drugs are regulated and classified a certain way. Some prescriptions have additional issuing requirements and you need to know those. Your knowledge of the fine differences in the names of drugs is important for patient safety.
Blood samples are taken from patients for many reasons. There are a number of variables in the collection process that can affect test results and the usefulness of the sample. You need to know about site selection, the order of drawing blood for several different tubes, and the proper labeling and storing of those tubes. Then, there are important patient considerations, such as age, disability, emotional state, and proper preparation for the test. All of these things may be your responsibility as a medical assistant.
Psychology and Communication
A big part of a medical assistant’s job is dealing with people, thus a basic understanding of human psychology will help. Being able to understand a patient’s state of mind often comes from actively listening to him/her and combining that with your knowledge of typical psychological responses to life events. Then, you will need to communicate important information in a way that promotes active listening on the patient’s part. These communication skills will also aid you in being an effective part of a medical team.