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What Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Do? A Comprehensive Guide

Clinical Medical Assistant
Learn what a Clinical Medical Assistant does and how to become one

As a Clinical Medical Assistant, you play a crucial role in healthcare facilities, performing a variety of clinical tasks to support physicians and ensure smooth operations. Your responsibilities span from taking vital signs and sterilizing medical instruments to recording patient histories, assisting with examinations, updating medical records, collecting blood samples, and administering medications under supervision.

Clinical Medical Assistants often specialize in areas like cardiology, podiatry, or ophthalmology. To excel in this Medical Assistant job, you must possess exceptional communication skills, compassion, multitasking abilities, and organizational prowess.

This comprehensive guide details the core duties and work environment of a Clinical Medical Assistant, shedding light on the necessary education, certification requirements, and desirable skills. It also explores the career outlook, potential specializations, and the Medical Assistant salary you can expect in this rapidly growing field.

Duties and Responsibilities

As a Clinical Medical Assistant, you perform a wide range of duties to support physicians and ensure efficient healthcare operations. Your key responsibilities include:

  1. Collecting Patient Data:
    • Taking vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and blood oxygen levels
    • Obtaining patient health histories
    • Taking photographs and measurements of conditions/injuries

2. Assisting with Clinical Procedures:

    • Drawing blood and collecting urine/stool samples
    • Removing stitches
    • Giving injections, including vaccinations
    • Assisting with bedside procedures like inserting IUDs, wound debridement, steroid injections
    • Applying creams/ointments and simple wound dressings
    • Starting IVs (depending on state regulations)

3. Medication Administration:

    • Giving medications
    • Administering medications or injections under supervision
    • Educating patients on medications, special diets, and other physician-ordered instructions

4. Laboratory Duties:

    • Collecting and preparing blood samples for testing
    • Performing basic laboratory tests

5. Examination Assistance:

    • Preparing and cleaning exam rooms
    • Assisting providers with exams
    • Preparing patients for examination

6. Documentation and Records:

    • Updating medical records
    • Authorizing prescription refills
    • Using computer applications
    • Updating and filing patient medical records
    • Coding and filling out insurance forms

7. Facility Support:

    • Stocking and organizing medical supplies
    • Sterilizing medical instruments or equipment
    • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping

In addition to these clinical duties, Medical Assistants play a crucial role in ensuring patient comfort and understanding. They explain treatment procedures to patients, help patients feel at ease, and clarify the physician’s instructions.

Work Environment

Clinical Medical Assistants work in diverse healthcare settings, primarily outpatient facilities. You may find employment opportunities in:

  1. Physician Offices:
    • Family practice offices
    • OBGYN clinics
    • Pediatric clinics
    • Chiropractic offices

2. Specialty Clinics:

    • Optometrist offices
    • Orthopedic offices
    • Podiatry clinics

3. Other Healthcare Facilities:

    • Laboratories
    • College health centers
    • Urgent care centers
    • Assisted living facilities

The work environment for Clinical Medical Assistants is fast-paced and dynamic. You will interact with patients, physicians, and other healthcare professionals regularly. Multitasking, attention to detail, and effective communication skills are essential to thrive in this role.

Education and Certification

To become a Clinical Medical Assistant, you can complete an accredited training program, typically taking up to a year, and obtain certification, such as the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential.

Training Programs

  1. Certificate Programs:
    • Medical Assistant Certificate Programs typically take 9-12 months* to complete
    • Cover topics like medical terminology, patient preparation, CPR, and insurance processing

2. Associate Degree Programs:

    • Medical Assistant Associate Degree Programs take 2 years* to complete
    • Cover topics such as medical ethics, software applications, anatomy and physiology, and medical laboratory procedures

Certification Options

Common certification options for Clinical Medical Assistants include:

  1. Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants
  2. Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) through the American Medical Technologists
  3. Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) through the National Healthcareer Association

To become a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), candidates must:

  • Possess a high school diploma/GED
  • Complete a medical assistant training/education program within the last 5 years OR have 1 year of supervised work experience in a Medical Assisting field within the last 3 years, or 2 years within the last 5 years
  • The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers exam preparation materials for the CCMA certification, including an online study guide, practice exam, and preparation package.

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers exam preparation materials for the CCMA certification, including an online study guide, practice exam, and preparation package.

Certification Benefits

  • 89% of organizations encourage or require Medical Assistants to be certified
  • 35% of employers believe Medical Assistants have more responsibility this year compared to last
  • CCMA certifications must be renewed every 2 years, requiring 10 continuing education (CE) credits (available for free through NHA for current certification holders)

Accredited Programs

The Clinical/Medical Assistant Program at Southwest School of Business & Technical Careers is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE).

Skills and Qualities

Key Skills

To excel as a Clinical Medical Assistant, you need to possess a combination of technical and interpersonal skills. The essential skills include:

  1. Medical Knowledge:
    • Proficiency in medical terminology and basic medical procedures
    • Knowledge of medical billing, coding, and electronic medical records (EMRs)
    • Ability to perform procedures like taking vital signs, phlebotomy, administering injections, and conducting EKGs

2. Technical Abilities:

    • Adept at using computer-based medical software and EMR systems
    • Comfortable adapting to new healthcare technologies

3. Communication Skills:

    • Strong verbal and written communication abilities
    • Excellent phone etiquette
    • Ability to obtain patient histories and relay treatment plans effectively

4. Organizational Skills:

    • Attention to detail when recording patient information and medical histories
    • Strong organizational skills for inventory management and scheduling
    • Effective time management to complete various tasks

5. Interpersonal Qualities:

    • Compassion and empathy to make patients feel comfortable
    • Patience and friendliness to emphasize service and patient satisfaction
    • Ability to stay calm under pressure and multitask

Key Qualities

In addition to technical skills, Clinical Medical Assistants must possess certain qualities to thrive in their roles:

  1. Professionalism: Medical Assistants handle sensitive and confidential information, requiring the highest levels of integrity and judgment.
  2. Critical Thinking: The ability to think critically and make sound judgments is crucial when assisting healthcare providers.
  3. Dependability: Physicians rely heavily on their medical assistants, so dependability and the ability to fulfill multiple roles are essential.
  4. Stamina: Clinical Medical Assistants often need to stand for extended periods, requiring physical stamina.
  5. Discretion: Maintaining confidentiality and handling sensitive patient information discreetly is paramount.

The combination of these skills and qualities enables clinical medical assistants to provide exceptional support to healthcare professionals and ensure a positive patient experience.

Career Outlook and Salary

Job Outlook

The job outlook for Medical Assistants, including Clinical Medical Assistants, is very promising with an expected growth rate of 14% from 2022-2032**. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations.

Some key points about the projected job growth:

  1. Medical Assistant jobs are projected to grow 16% from 2021-2031, much faster than the average occupation.
  2. The aging U.S. population will drive the demand for preventive medical services, leading to rapid employment growth for Medical Assistants.

Salary Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for Medical Assistants was $42,000 in May 2023***. However, certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMAs) may have a chance to earn a higher salary.

Salary can increase with experience and certification:

  • CCMAs may have opportunities to increase their salary as they gain more experience.
  • 89% of organizations encourage or require Medical Assistants to be certified, indicating higher earning potential for certified professionals.

Specialization Options

Clinical Medical Assistants can specialize in various areas of healthcare, which may impact their job prospects and earning potential. Some specialization options include:

  • Cardiology
  • Podiatry
  • Chiropractic care
  • Orthopedics
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pediatrics
  • Gerontology

By specializing in high-demand areas, Clinical Medical Assistants can potentially secure better job opportunities and command higher salaries.


Clinical Medical Assistants play a pivotal role in healthcare facilities, providing vital support to physicians and ensuring smooth operations. Their responsibilities encompass a wide range of clinical tasks, from collecting patient data and assisting with examinations to administering medications and maintaining medical records.

With the increasing demand for preventive healthcare services, the job outlook for Clinical Medical Assistants appears promising, with projected growth rates exceeding the average for all occupations.

Pursuing a career as a Clinical Medical Assistant requires completing an accredited training program and obtaining certification, such as the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential.

Possessing essential skills like medical knowledge, technical abilities, communication proficiency, organizational skills, and interpersonal qualities is crucial for success in this field. Clinical Medical Assistants can explore specializations in areas like cardiology, podiatry, or ophthalmology, potentially enhancing their job prospects and earning potential.


What are the duties of a Clinical Medical Assistant?

A Clinical Medical Assistant’s main duties include recording patients’ personal details and medical histories. Depending on the state, they may also perform simple lab tests, dispose of contaminated materials, and sterilize medical equipment.

What does comprehensive Medical Assisting entail?

Comprehensive Medical Assisting encompasses both clinical and administrative skills. It educates students on scheduling appointments, medical coding, billing procedures, obtaining pre-certifications, managing electronic medical records, and understanding advanced medical terminology.

What does a Clinical Assistant do in their role?

A Clinical Assistant is responsible for a variety of tasks, including triaging patients, scheduling appointments, handling phone calls, providing clerical support, and assisting with clinical and/or laboratory procedures as needed.

How does a Clinical Medical Assistant differ from a Certified Medical Assistant?

The key difference is that a Clinical Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA) focuses on clinical tasks such as taking medical histories, preparing patients for exams, recording vital signs, and drawing blood, whereas a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) also performs administrative tasks like processing insurance claims and scheduling appointments. CCMAs typically do not engage in administrative duties.


*Program length when completed in normal time.