The healthcare industry is very promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry has provided 14.3 million jobs. They also projected that the this industry will generate 3.2 million new jobs from 2008 to 2018 because of the rapidly growing population of the elderly. Two of the most popular health related career choices among job seekers today are medical assisting and physician assisting. Both are holding significant roles in providing health services to the sick. However, these two careers are often interchanged. In order to differentiate the two, let us discuss the two healthcare professions one by one.
Overview Of Medical Assistants
Nurses and doctors are easily recognizable. Medical assistants or MAs on the other hand are hard to recognize. MAs are the ones who keep the offices and departments of the medical doctors, physicians, chiropractors and other healthcare practitioners in good order. Their roles can vary depending on the institutions they are employed in. Following are some of the common tasks and duties of MAs:
Approximately sixty two percent of medical assistants are working in doctor’s private clinics. They are either trained on the job or they acquire the skills through medical assisting program courses offered by many vocational and online schools. During training they are taught to handle calls and patient’s medical records. They are also trained to organize hospital admissions and laboratory schedules. Aside from those, they are sometimes in charge of bookkeeping. These are just some of the administrative roles that they are playing.
The clinical responsibilities of MAs depend on the state where they are presently employed. Their clinical skills are taught as well. Some of the common clinical responsibilities of MAs are vital signs taking, collecting and preparing specimens, disposing of used and contaminated supplies, basic laboratory testing and assisting physician or medical doctor during medical check-up. In small and private clinics, doctors can instruct the medical assistant to prepare and administer medications, change wound dressings, give telephone prescriptions and monitor ECGs.
Special Areas Responsibilities
Like other healthcare professionals, MAs can choose to work in special areas like pediatrics, ophthalmic and optometry departments where they can grow professionally. In these areas, it is important for MAs to learn how to multitask because there are instances where they have to perform several duties all at once.
Overview Of Physician Assistant
Physician Assistants are also major players in the healthcare industry. They are health care professionals who are licensed to practice medicine under the watchful eye of a physician. Physician assistant are credentialed to practice according to the federal government.
Unlike MAs, PAs have more clinical responsibilities. Their scope of practice depends on their training, medical experience and state of law. Moreover, the supervising physician’s practice also affects the scope of practice of PAs. Having that said, PAs will be seeing the same cases of patients as with their supervising physician. If the supervising physician is a specialist under oncology, then the PA will be practicing in the same department as well.
Some of the most common responsibilities of the physician assistant are the following. PAs are responsible in taking assessment, diagnosing and treating of medical illnesses, analyzing and interpreting tests and procedures given to patients, surgery assisting, patient counseling and giving of prescriptions. Aside from their clinical responsibilities, physician assistants can be given tasks on education, medical research and investigation and other administrative duties.
Medical assistants and physician assistants are two different entities. It is important to differentiate the two. However, both are very useful in the industry of healthcare. They both deserve to be given respect because by the same token they are doing what their job entails.