Revealing myths about medical assistants

Moraine Park medical assistant student taking blood pressure of another student

1. When I visit the clinic the person that helps me is a nurse.

MYTH: The individual that assists you as you enter a physician’s office, is actually a medical assistant.  Medical assistant’s are a highly skilled health professional, trained to work in ambulatory health care settings. The medical assistant is the physician’s right hand, the patient advocate, the liaison between the doctor and patient. The medical assistant will obtain your health history, take your vital signs, inquire about the reason for your visit, assemble items needed for your exam, and assist the physician during the exam. The medical assistant will administer any ordered medications and injections; apply dressings, splints or casts; draw blood and collect other specimens, perform lab tests, and obtain ECGs. The medical assistant will schedule your outpatient, specialty, or follow-up appointment, make sure you have prescriptions, health related information and/or follow up instructions. Most of your time during a visit to the physician’s office will be spent with the medical assistant. Medical assistants also utilize the EHR (electronic healthcare record) and facilitate the reimbursement process through insurance and referral management.

2. Anyone can be a medical assistant with a little on-the-job training.

MYTH: Most employers require that medical assistants have not only completed formal training, but also require them to be certified. Most agencies providing the means for certification require that candidates have completed formal training through an accredited program approved by the US Department of Education. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), is the professional organization for medical assistants, and offers the Certified Medical Assistant – CMA (AAMA) credential, requires that candidates have completed a program accredited by either Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). MPTC is accredited by CAAHEP.

3. If I am a certified nursing assistant (CNA) then I am also qualified to be a medical assistant.

MYTH: Most accredited medical assistant diploma programs 12 to 24 months of intense study and skills training.  A certified nursing assistant, or CNA, helps patients or clients with healthcare needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).  A certified nursing assistants (CNA) main role is to serve as a caregiver to patients, assisting them in daily activities they might have trouble with on their own, such as bathing, feeding, and dressing. CNAs work in a wide variety of settings; nursing homes, hospitals, adult day care centers, personal homes and assisted living. As a CNA, furthering your training to be a medical assistant is a great way to progress your career in healthcare.

4. A medical assistant must work under the direction of a nurse.

MYTH:  While some employers who also employ nurses may have an organizational structure that provides direct supervision by nursing staff, it is far more common to see medical assistants working directly with physicians and mid-level providers.

5. It will be hard to get a job as a medical assistant.

MYTH: According to Wisconsin’s WorkNet data, employment as a Medical Assistant is to see a 22.3% increase in the demand between now and 2022. At MPTC we receive calls from employers and recruiters often seeking our graduates trying to fill the many vacancies in their facilities.

If you are ready to become a Medical Assistant please contact: Carmen Bonlender in FDL or Sherry Hackbarth in Beaver Dam or visit the Medical Assistant program page for further information on this in demand career.  Also, the AAMA website has great information to learn more about the exciting and rewarding Medical Assistant profession.


Written by Brenda Raad
Associate Dean of Health