Clinical Assistant vs. Medical Assistant

In this article, we’ll be making critical comparisons between two potentially rewarding medical careers; clinical assistant and medical assistant.

If you’ve had any confusion, the details below should help clarify each career and how it compares to the other.

Medical Assistant vs. Clinical Assistant

The similarities between medical careers can be confusing, especially for one considering pursuing a career in that line.

If this describes your situation, you must figure out what each career is about. That allows you to find one you easily find interesting.

Basic Career Definitions

To kick-start our discussion, we must first introduce these medical professionals and what they do.

We’ll later proceed to build on such information by making critical comparisons. With that said, who’s a clinical assistant? Let’s find out.

  • Clinical Assistant

As the name suggests, a clinical assistant is a medical professional who supports other medical professionals like nurses, physicians, or other staff holding similar roles.

Such support involves performing basic clinical tasks like medical tests, patient care provision, and clinical procedures.

Here, duties and responsibilities include taking and recording vital signs, receiving screens, interviewing, and registering patients.

As a clinical assistant, part of your roles will include obtaining patient histories, getting insurance approvals, and prepping and updating medical charts and associated records.

Clinical assistants also answer telephone inquiries from patients and others and arrange for prescribed tests. These professionals also collect and verify data on clinical activities or research.

Ordering and maintaining inventories of supplies for smooth operations is another role.

A clinical assistant may supervise student employees, interns, or volunteers and perform miscellaneous duties as assigned by a superior.

Obtaining and verifying patient billing information is yet another responsibility of a clinical assistant.

  • Medical Assistant

This is an allied health professional whose responsibility includes the support of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals performing their tasks.

More specifically, medical assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasksĀ to keep their offices running efficiently.

Like clinical assistants, the roles of medical assistants are numerous. These roles can be divided into administrative and clinical parts.

On the administrative side, these professionals schedule patient appointments, assist patients with insurance forms, and record patient history & personal information.

Also, the completion of patient billing is another responsibility they handle. On the clinical side, medical assistants prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations.

They administer injections as instructed by a physician and measure vital signs.

What more? Other clinical roles of medical assistants include helping physicians with patient examinations, collecting samples of lab tests, and providing explanations to patients on treatment procedures or a physician’s instructions.

Clinical Assistant Vs. Medical Assistant Key Comparisons

This is the section where we compare clinical assistant and medical assistant professions side by side.

The points of comparison to be looked at including the qualities required for each, salaries and benefits, education and training, and the most suitable work environments.

i. Essential Qualities for Each Profession

To understand the similarities and differences between clinical and medical assistants, you must consider the qualities required for effective functioning.

In the case of clinical assistants, these tend to take on more clinical responsibilities than their peers.

Critical skills include being familiar with medical terminology, transcription, bedside, and clinical skills. Transcription skills are needed for the effective recording of patient history.

Transcription also requires excellent vocabulary, spelling, and grammar skills.

For medical assistants, technical, detail orientation, analytical, and administrative skills are required. Here, technical skills can be further explained as the ability to use medical equipment and computers.

Administrative skills possessed by medical assistants help check in patients, schedule appointments, and answer phone calls, among others.

It’s about being able to prioritize tasks.

ii. Salaries & Benefits

Salaries and benefits are other points of comparison where differences can be assessed.

First, it’s important to note that factors affecting the salaries of both professions include years of experience, geographical location, and educational background, amongst others.

On average, clinical assistants earn around $69,000 per year. Entry-level clinical assistants will earn much lower than this figure, while highly experienced assistants earn significantly higher.

For medical assistants, the average salary is around $46,000.

As their experience increases, so does their salary. With around a decade of employment, they’re likely to earn about $56,000 on average.

Benefits enjoyed by both professions are pretty varied. These include paid time off, health insurance, professional development openings, and retirement plans.

iii. Education & Training

In terms of education and training, both professions are expected to have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Of course, this should be followed by post-secondary education by clinical assistants.

Overall, clinical assistants tend to have more training compared to medical assistants.

The training includes taking and recording electrocardiograms, drawing blood, and measuring blood pressure. Exercise may also have the performance of basic lab tests and the giving of injections.

For Medical assistants, post-secondary education is also required.

This is followed by the completion of a medical assisting program. You’ll need to enroll in such programs in technical schools, community colleges, or vocational schools.

iv. Suitable Work Environments

Where several factors primarily determine clinical assistants’ and medical assistants’ work. These mainly involve the patient population, facility size, assistance type, and procedures.

Here, the patient population plays a role in determining what professional gets hired. In terms of the size of the facility or practice, smaller practices will require less labor.

Here, only one medical assistant can handle various administrative duties. For a more extensive practice, expect higher demand for labor. More medical assistants may be needed.

Here are the fundamental differences between clinical assistants and medical assistants. We’ve compared the two and seen areas of divergence and convergence between the two.

Which of these do you find interesting? It’s best to go with the one you find more appealing.