IBMC Articles

The Difference Between a Medical Assistant and a Physician Assistant

When seeking a degree in medical assisting in Cheyenne, WY, people can become confused about the variety of different assistants that can be found in the medical field. Two of the positions that people believe are the same are medical assistants and physician assistants. Yet these two career fields are very different due to the level of responsibilities undertaken.

What Medical Assistants do

Medical assistants can obtain training at a number of career colleges, including those in Cheyenne, WY and Longmont, CO. They can perform clerical and clinical duties in a wide range of medical offices and settings. They may take appointments, handle the billing and coding, remove sutures, record patient information and perform other duties. A medical assistant cannot examine or diagnose patients in regards to the types of medical conditions the person may have. While a medical assistant can make referrals for prescription medications for the patient, they cannot prescribe any type of medication for the patient to take.

What Physician Assistants do

Physician assistants can perform medical exams and certain procedures while under the supervision of a surgeon or physician. They will perform patient exams, offer medical treatment and discuss healthcare concerns with patients. The physician assistant may also order lab work performed, prescribe medications and review the patient’s medical history. The types of work that the physician assistant can do under supervision or with no supervision will be based on the medical practice they work for and state laws.

Why Work Duties Seem to Overlap

When a person is performing medical assisting in Cheyenne, it may seem like they are performing the same duties as a physician assistant. Yet people have to pay closer attention to the type of tasks that are being completed. They also have to see how the assistant is being supervised in the medical facility.

A medical assistant will take down medical information and update medical records, while a physician assistant will use the information in the medical record to help make a diagnosis. While a physician assistant will order lab work done and analyze the results, it is the medical assistant that will prepare the lab tests and do basic tests. Also, a physician assistant will prescribe medication while a medical assistant will give referrals for prescription medications.

Understanding the differences between a medical assistant and a physician assistant will allow a person to pick the right career path when getting their diploma or degree from a Longmont, CO or Cheyenne, WY college. They can then get involved in the medical career that interests them the most.