Medical Assisting – Hospitals vs. Clinics
No matter what type of medical facility in which medical assistants work, they have among the most diverse jobs in healthcare. There are, however, significant differences between medical assistants in hospital settings and medical assistants in clinic or individual practice settings. This is an important distinction for relatively new medical professionals entering the field – the specific medical setting will drastically affect day-to-day responsibilities, as well as long-term careers, of medical assistants. To understand how medical assistants in different facilities operate, we should first understand differences in the facilities themselves.
Hospitals & Clinics
While hospitals are generally large and treat a wide variety of medical conditions and illnesses, clinics are smaller practices consisting of typically one to five physicians (depending on if it is a group practice). Additionally, because clinics are smaller they commonly focus on specific aspects of medicine, such as dermatology, pediatrics, gynecology, and regular ear nose and throat. After examining the differences between hospitals and clinics it should become clear how a medical assistant’s job would be different in each setting.
The day-to-day work of medical assistants is typically quite diverse, ranging from patient care to clerical record keeping work. In hospitals job duties can be even more diverse. Hospitals function thanks to an enormous number of moving parts and individual roles working together to form a cohesive, well-oiled machine. Medical assistants are integral parts of hospitals’ operations. Practically every department of a hospital employs at least one medical assistant. These professionals are tasked with bridging the gap between patients and physicians/nurses. Medical assistants are typically on the forefront of patient interaction. Scheduling appointments, tracking accurate medical records, updating treatments, assisting in minor procedures, directing patients within the hospitals, caring for long-term patients, and providing patient information to doctors and nurses are just a few medical assistant duties in hospitals. Medical assistants also have to adjust to the quick-paced hustle and bustle that never really ends or slows, especially in larger urban hospitals.
Clinical medical assistants generally have less to deal with than those working in hospitals, but are equally vital to facility operations. While there isn’t as much patient intake resulting in a fast-paced, hectic environment, clinical medical assistants are still on the forefront of patient interaction. In a typical clinical setting, medical assistants can expect to take on a lot of the clerical work such as scheduling appointments, handling supply inventory, greeting and checking in patients, and occasionally assisting physicians and nurses in patient treatments.
Something unique to medical clinics is that there are a wide variety of specialized facilities catering to particular medical conditions. Express clinics, chiropractic clinics, allergy clinics, and many more still need medical assistants to function best. This means that there is ample opportunity for entry-level medical assistants to gain experience in a variety of medical settings. By cultivating work experience in a variety of settings, these medical assistants make themselves highly attractive to future employers.
So, whether aspiring medical assistants choose to go into a fast-paced hospital setting or a diverse clinical setting, they will be important and valued members of any medical team. Newer medical assistants should take into account the differences in hospitals and clinics regarding job duties, patient intake, and of course, personal passions.
Hospitals VS. Clinics
To help this important decision, the following are pros and cons of working in hospitals vs. clinics.
- Pros of Working at a Clinic:
- Better hours and work-life balance
- Predictable routine work, very few surprises
- Opportunity to establish long-term relationships with patients
- Cons of Working at a Clinic:
- Generally less pay than hospitals
- May spend as much, or more, time with paperwork tasks than with direct patient contact
- The more predictable routine can become boring for some
- Pros of Working at a Hospital:
- Typically higher pay
- Plenty of employment opportunities and solid job stability
- Great potential for growth as hospitals provide exciting opportunities to learn a variety of skills, explore different career interests, and work with top-level talent
- Cons of Working at a Hospital:
- Longer work hours and inconsistent schedule
- Involves working on weekends and holidays
- Hectic nature of hospitals can be too demanding for some
- Possible to feel undervalued among large hospital staff