What is the Difference Between a Clinical Medical Assistant and a Medical Assistant?

clinical medical assistant

Would you consider helping others something you enjoy? Are you interested in upgrading your short-term job to a long-term career? Career training after high school is important. Many times the idea of four years of classes along with four years of debt stops you from identifying the next step to moving forward professionally.

The Clinical Medical Assistant program at Blue Cliff College could be the first step in your professional medical career. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects much faster than average growth (+18%) in this field between 2020 and 2030¹.

Medical Assistants work across many areas of healthcare to support the delivery of patient care. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.”


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Clinical Medical Assistant vs Medical Assistant

A Clinical Medical Assistant is a Medical Assistant who specializes in clinical work. Medical Assistants’ general duties typically consist of the following tasks:

  • Recording patient history and personal information
  • Measuring vital signs, such as blood pressure
  • Helping physicians with patient examinations
  • Giving patients injections or medications as directed by physicians and as permitted by state law
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Preparing blood samples for laboratory tests
  • Entering patient information into medical records

In larger healthcare facilities medical assistants will typically specialize in either Administrative or Clinical work. Clinical Medical Assistants duties can vary depending on state law; however, their general duties typically consist of the following tasks:

  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Disposing of contaminated supplies
  • Sterilizing medical instruments
  • Instructing patients about medication or special diets
  • Preparing patients for X-rays
  • Removing stitches
  • Drawing blood
  • Changing dressings

What does a Clinical Medical Assistant do?

Clinical Medical Assistants are vital members of a healthcare team. To work as a medical assistant means that you could be at the forefront of patient care and perform fundamental administrative and clinical duties.

Clinical Medical Assistant Qualities

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook the important qualities of a Clinical Medical Assistant are:

  • Analytical Skills: Understand and follow medical charts and diagnoses. They may be required to code a patient’s medical records for billing purposes.
  • Detail Oriented: Be precise when taking vital signs or recording patient information. Physicians and insurance companies rely on accurate records.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Discuss patient information with other medical personnel, such as physicians. They often interact with patients who may be in pain or distress, so they need to be able to act calmly and professionally.
  • Technical Skills: Use basic clinical instruments so they can take a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Clinical Medical Assistant Duties

According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, the primary duties of a medical assistant can be split into administrative and clinical tasks².

Their administrative duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Using computer applications
  • Answering telephones
  • Welcoming patients
  • Updating and filing patient medical records
  • Coding and filling out insurance forms
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
  • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping

Their clinical duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Taking medical histories
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Assisting the physician during examinations
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Instructing patients about medication and special diets
  • Preparing and administering medications: including intramuscular, intradermal, and subcutaneous injections as directed by a physician or other licensed provider (e.g., a nurse practitioner or physician assistant)
  • Transmitting prescription refills as directed
  • Phlebotomy
  • Taking electrocardiograms
  • Wound care and changing dressings

Blue Cliff College’s Clinical Medical Assistant programs are designed to prepare you with the technical knowledge and practical skills you may need in a medical office or other healthcare facilities.

How long is Clinical Medical Assistant school?

We offer both daytime and evening classes for the Clinical Medical Assistant program at Blue Cliff College. You can earn your Clinical Medical Assistant diploma in 9 months in our day program. We also offer an evening program that takes 15 months to complete.

How to become a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant?

It takes a special person with quality training to succeed as a Clinical Medical Assistant. A Clinical Medical Assistant is a very important member of a healthcare team. At Blue Cliff College, our Clinical Medical Assistant diploma program aims to prepare you for an entry-level position in the health care industry.
As a student at Blue Cliff College, you could be introduced to a wide range of duties and medical terminology while training in a relatively short amount of time! Medical Assisting classes at Blue Cliff College begin every 6 weeks, so you don’t have to wait long to get started.

Blue Cliff College Admission Requirements

Before you attend courses in the Clinical Medical Assisting diploma program, you’ll need to:

  1. Review and sign the “Guidelines for Practicing Injections [R3]” provided during the admissions process.
  2. Provide verification to Blue Cliff College of your hepatitis vaccination prior to the completion of MED105 Medical Techniques and Procedures. (The cost of this vaccination is included in your tuition.)

Enroll in the Clinical Medical Assistant program at Blue Cliff College

Start your professional journey with Blue Cliff College in the next 45 days! Classes start every 6 weeks. With a short 9 month (daytime) program, you’ll be prepared to make the professional change to being a Clinical Medical Assistant in under one year. There are few things as rewarding as a career you love in the growing field of health care. Helping others while helping yourself.


Learn more about the Clinical Medical Assistant program at Blue Cliff College



  1. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
  2. https://www.aama-ntl.org/medical-assisting/what-is-a-medical-assistant

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