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Career Profile: Medical Assistant - Phyllis Shipper

Career Profile: Medical Assistant - Phyllis Shipper

Phyllis Shipper, C.M.A., Medical Assistant, Internal Medicine, Private Practice, MD

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

I chose this career because…

I chose to become a medical assistant because of a wonderful and rewarding experience I had as a youth. I volunteered as a Candy Striper at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Maryland. The enjoyment and overwhelming satisfaction I felt by helping others was incredible! Ever since then, I knew I wanted to work with people in a meaningful way and make a positive impact in this world.

After high school, I worked many different jobs – in retail, in food services, and even as a truck driver – before I finally made my career choice to be a medical assistant. I got my first job in the medical field not because of what I knew, but for who I knew. I met my future boss through a relative, who was also friends with my current supervisor. They arranged an interview for me, and I got the job. Once my foot was in the door there was no stopping me.

More on Medical Assisting


Salary: $18,860 - $36,840
Min. Education: Associate's
Related Careers: Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse, Registered Nurse

Education and Certification

My on-the-job training proved to be the best overall education I could have received thanks to my supervisor. She taught me reception skills, the complicated coding system used to file patient insurance forms, and much more. My friend Lisa, also a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), encouraged me to further my career by becoming a CMA. With the help and support of my friends associated with the Maryland Society of Medical Assistants, I took the four-hour exam and passed.

Since I became certified, the criteria for becoming a CMA has changed. Currently, candidates must graduate from a school that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools to be eligible to take the certification exam.

Certification must be kept current by earning continuing education credits. Every five years CMA’s must become re-certified. They can do this through continuing education or by retaking the exam.

My typical workday involves…

My typical workday is full, and by no means boring, because of the multitasking skills necessary to run a well-organized and successful medical practice. The doctor does the doctoring, and the medical assistant does everything else.

The responsibilities of a medical assistant working in a primary care physician’s office are enormous. Your number one priority is the patients, and helping them feel at ease, and that they are well cared for (both in person and on the phone). I try to give the patients my full attention and let them know they are important to me.

Major Responsibilities:

• Answer, screen, and triage all telephone calls
• Meet and greet the incoming patients, drug representatives, and other visitors
• Prepare and maintain patient charts and all other files
• Inventory and maintain stock of all supplies needed by the physician and medical staff
• Maintain safety and cleanliness of examination rooms
• Manage patient scheduling and keep examination rooms occupied (This facilitates keeping your doctor on schedule, which in-turn will help maintain a peaceful atmosphere in your office. People don’t like to be kept waiting.)
• When necessary assist the doctor with examinations
• Billing to insurance companies and financial collections for services rendered – This is done in-house in my office but some doctor’s offices hire-out this task.

Clinical Duties:

• Measure patients’ height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure
• Prepare and send patients’ blood and/or urine samples for lab tests. I use a tabletop centrifuge which spins the blood samples to prepare them for the lab.
• Perform spirometry test for those who have breathing problems. I use a Spirometer to measure the air capacity in the lungs.
• Perform electrocardiograms (commonly known as EKGs) – EKG’s measure the electric currents in the heart and helps the doctor diagnose irregular rhythms and heart disease.
• Prepare patients for stress tests

What I like best/least about my work…

It is ironic that what I enjoy most about my job is also what I also like least. I enjoy being a patient advocate, when necessary, by working with them and their insurance companies. I help them to understand their insurance benefits. My least favorite responsibility is collections. It is very frustrating when you have to fight with insurance companies and others for payments due to the doctor.

My career goal is…

My career goal is to keep up with the ever-changing rules, regulations, and laws in the medical profession. I continue to strive to make a visit to the doctor’s office a positive and good experience for each patient.


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