Clinical vs Administrative Medical Assistants: What are the Differences?

Clinical vs Administrative Medical Assistants: What are the Differences?

If you’re thinking about a career in healthcare, you might be considering becoming a medical assistant.

In some larger facilities, there can be different positions or roles for medical assistants. Two distinct positions are clinical medical assistants and administrative medical assistants.

What are the differences and similarities between these two roles? How does each contribute to the medical facilities where they work?

We’ll examine each of these and tell you what to expect in each position.

What is a Clinical Medical Assistant?

A clinical medical assistant is a healthcare worker who assists physicians or registered nurses by doing basic clinical tasks such as taking vital signs, administering medical tests and procedures, and providing patient care. Clinical medical assistants work in medical offices, hospitals, long term healthcare facilities, urgent care, and physical therapy facilities.

What is an Administrative Medical Assistant?

Medical administrative assistants Take care of the clerical and administrative tasks that help a healthcare facility run smoothly. They answer phones, schedule appointments, help manage patient records, provide general support.

 What Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Do?

Clinical medical assistants are an integral part of every healthcare facility. They support physicians and other medical staff by performing medical tests, taking vital signs, recording medical history, doing diagnostic tests, or drawing blood.

·         Here are some of the things clinical medical assistants do in their daily work.

·         Measuring vital signs

·         Preparing examination rooms

·         Sterilizing medical equipment

·         Drawing blood for diagnostic testing

·         Performing basic medical exams

·         Administering medication, only under a doctor’s supervision

·         Giving injections or vaccines, only under a doctor’s supervision

What Does an Administrative Medical Assistant Do?

Medical administrative assistants usually work at the reception area or front desk of medical offices and healthcare facilities. They are responsible for clerical and office tasks that allow the physicians and clinical health professionals to do their work without distraction. These healthcare workers are good at interpersonal skills and multitasking.

These are common medical administrative assistant responsibilities: 

·         Scheduling appointments

·         Answering phones

·         Welcoming patients

·         Arranging patient admissions

·         Ordering medical supplies

·         Sending appointment reminders

·         Setting up labs for patients

·         Inputting patient insurance information

·         Moving medical records to electronic health records

·         Coordinating correspondence between other healthcare providers regarding test results or medical procedures

  • Helping with billing and payments at the end of appointments

In some cases, medical administrative assistants may also help with medical billing and coding, if they have training and certification for those skills.

Some medical administrative assistants move on to become medical office managers, where that position is applicable.

Clinical Medical Assistants vs Administrative Medial Assistants

A clinical medical assistant's primary duties involve assisting doctors or nurses in basic clinical tasks like lab tests and taking vital signs. An administrative medical assistant's primary focus is on administrative duties such as scheduling, communicating with medical staff, and maintaining medical records

Where Do They Work?

Over 56% of clinical medical assistants work in physician’s offices, with the remainder working in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, and other healthcare facilities.

Medical administrative assistants work in a variety of places, including private practice doctor’s offices, hospitals, dentist’s offices, outpatient clinics, medical and diagnostic facilities, and long-term healthcare facilities.

What Education is Needed

In California, medical assistants must complete a training program, complete an externship, and then pass a certification exam. To enroll in a medical assistant training program, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED.

Job Outlook

The number of  jobs for all types of medical assistants is projected to grow about 14% between 2022 and 2032 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [1] This is much faster than normal for all jobs in the US over that period. In May of 2023, the median salary for all medical assistants was $42,000 per year and the mean average wage was $20.19 per hour. In California in May 2023, the median wage for all medical assistants was $24.47 and the mean average annual salary was $ 50,900.

According to the BLS in May 2023, medical administrative assistants earned a mean salary of $43,380 across the entire US with a mean average salary of $20.85. In California, in May 2023, the mean average salary for medical administrative assistants was $51,830 and the mean hourly wage was $24.92.

Become a Certified Medical Assistant in About 42 Weeks

Our Medical Assisting Certification Program at our Campus Sacramento location trains students in the protocols and procedures used every day in clinics, hospitals, and assisted living environments.

You can become a medical assistant through the training program at Campus at Sacramento. Our comprehensive medical assistant training program is 38 weeks of classroom training followed by a 4 to 5-week externship. After this, you can take the certification exam and begin your career as a medical assistant.  

For more information, contact our Admissions department or fill out our Request Information form. We look forward to helping you start your healthcare career.


[1] Note: The data provided above are from a source unaffiliated with Campus, are for informational purposes only and represent the employment field as a whole. They are not solely specific to Campus graduates and, by providing the above information, Campus makes no representation, direct or implied, or opinion regarding employability.