What Lab Skills Do Medical Assistants Need to Know?

Submitted by cmiller on Thu, 10/05/2023 - 18:39


As one of the most in-demand occupations in the US, medical assisting can be a rewarding career if you want to work in the healthcare industry. Depending on your facility, you may be asked to perform a variety of clinical responsibilities to properly care for patients and assist medical professionals. But before you enter the field, you need to know these important lab skills:


As a Medical Assistant, you will need to be skilled at phlebotomy, carefully drawing patient blood for lab tests. There are several steps to a proper blood draw and you need to learn to do each one with accuracy and precision. You need to be able to perform the actual venipuncture, where you locate suitable veins, insert the needle so it does not harm the patient, and draw blood. You also need to correctly contain the blood sample, label it, and prepare it for transportation to the laboratory for analysis. And you need to make your patients feel at ease during a procedure some may actually hate.

Specimen Collection and Processing

Blood isn’t the only sample patients provide during appointments. You may also need to assist with urine and stool samples, making certain every step is followed and that samples are correctly labeled and submitted for analysis.

Vital Signs

A patient’s vital signs tell doctors a lot about what’s going on. As a Medical Assistant, at the beginning of each visit, you gather initial patient histories and then take vitals. You check blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and temperature. You record your findings and enter them into the patient's medical record.

Emergency Care

There will be times you may need to administer emergency care for patients. In situations like this, you may be required to perform procedures like CPR or wound dressing. If you work in an emergency room, you might help transport patients from ambulances and prepare them for surgery. ERs are often hectic and fast-paced environments. Does that sound like the place for your Medical Assistant career?

Infection Control

Infection control is a critical lab skill and safety precaution you need to work in any healthcare setting. To prevent the spread of infection, you first need to understand how germs are spread. Once you learn how different bacteria and disease can travel, you need to know the basics of infection control, risk assessment, and the necessary procedures needed in case of an outbreak.

Lab Safety

Lab safety is another important skill you need. The regulations for lab work are there to protect you, your patients, and any other medical staff. There are a wide range of lab safety rules and tips you need to follow, so it’s important that you review the instructions your facility provides. Your goal should be to reduce hazards, understand the equipment you work with and how it could potentially be a hazard, and to protect yourself, your patients, and your environment.

Lab Equipment Operations

Some Medical Assistants are trained to directly assist doctors with laboratory procedures. In these cases, you may be required to give patients injections, administering certain medications such as vaccinations. Or you may need to operate testing equipment in the lab. These tests can vary from urinalysis, blood cell count, and glucose levels. To complete these tasks successfully, you need to understand how different lab equipment works, how it’s used with the patients, and how to accurately measure and collect data from them.

Are you interested in starting your healthcare career as a Medical Assistant? The Medical Assistant Program At Charter Career Academy can get you ready for entry-level work in the field. This program prepares you for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certification exam offered by the National Health Career Association.