A medical assistant is someone who works alongside a doctor, helping them care for patients while keeping things in the office running smoothly. Medical assistants might spend their days scheduling appointments and answering phones while also assisting with procedures and taking patient histories and measurements.
A dermatology medical assistant usually works in a dermatology office and helps with administrative tasks and basic clinical procedures. They may help patients with everything from milk acne to skin cancer.
This guide will go over the responsibilities of a dermatology medical assistant, pay and job outlook, and how to become one.
What is a Dermatology Medical Assistant?
A dermatology medical assistant is a type of medical assistant specialty focused on care of people’s skin. They might help physicians care for patients with cosmetic worries or serious skin diseases. They often do both administrative and clinical tasks, and usually have special training and knowledge of different skin conditions.
What Does a Dermatology Medical Assistant Do?
A dermatology medical assistant will perform many of the same tasks as other medical assistants. This includes scheduling appointments and taking vital signs. They will also get to assist with things like taking biopsies and doing special wound care.
Administrative tasks of a dermatology medical assistant include:
- Greet patients. A medical assistant needs to have great customer service skills, since they are often the first person a patient will see when they enter the building.
- Schedule appointments. Medical assistants are usually in charge of keeping the doctor's schedule organized and helping things stay on schedule. They may have to call patients to create follow up appointments.
- Answer phones. Medical assistants are often responsible for taking phone calls related to scheduling, medication refills, and basic medical questions.
- Handle billing. A medical assistant can take payments or set up payment plans for patients in the office. They may also have to contact insurance companies to settle charges.
- Order supplies. An office cannot run well without the supplies they need. Medical assistants can help take inventory of supplies and make sure that anything running low is ordered.
Clinical tasks of a dermatology medical assistant include:
- Measure vital signs. At almost any healthcare clinic, one of the first things that needs to be done is measuring a patient's vital signs. This includes heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature.
- Assist with procedures. Many dermatology clinics will perform in-office procedures. Medical assistants can help the doctors by handing them tools or helping position patients for minor procedures.
- Document findings. Many dermatological problems change over time, and it is important to have accurate records to monitor for changes in skin condition. Medical assistants can help take pictures and upload them to be viewed during future appointments.
- Collect and label samples. Many dermatology clinics will collect samples or biopsies of skin to have them tested in a laboratory. The medical assistant will help the doctor put these specimens in containers and label them for appropriate testing.
- Apply creams and ointments. Dermatology assistants may have to help apply creams or ointments for patients' dry or irritated skin.
Where Do Dermatology Medical Assistants Work?
Dermatology medical assistants will usually work in a dermatology clinic or hospital working with dermatologists. They might also work in cosmetic offices or even long term care centers. Working in a dermatology clinic means that you will focus on skin conditions. You will see patients of all different ages and backgrounds with a variety of skin concerns.
Medical assistants usually spend their days on their feet, especially if they are performing mostly clinical tasks. They will usually work in a fast-paced environment and if they are not busy seeing patients, they’ll be preparing rooms or stocking supplies.
What Skills Are Required to Be a Dermatology Medical Assistant?
Being a dermatology medical assistant means you’ll need a few special skills and abilities outside of the standard medical assistant skills, including:
- Customer service skills. Since you will be working with people all day both in person and over the phone, you need to have great customer service skills to work as a medical assistant.
- Observation skills. A dermatology medical assistant needs to have an eye for detail. While you will not diagnose any conditions, you can help the doctor identify any skin abnormalities on your patient.
- Medical terminology. Working in healthcare means you need to have a good basic understanding of medical assistant terminology. You’ll need to be able to accurately describe procedures, anatomy, and medications.
- Critical thinking. Any job in healthcare requires good critical thinking skills. You need to know what to look for in a sick patient or when to call the doctor with any concerns.
- CPR certification. Anyone working in the medical field needs to have a CPR certification.
- Compassion. People coming to a dermatology clinic may be feeling nervous about a diagnosis or self-conscious about a skin condition. You’ll need to be compassionate and help your patients feel comfortable while in your care.
- Steady hands. Since you will be helping with bedside procedures, you’ll need to be comfortable working with your hands and handling delicate instruments.
Dermatology Medical Assistant Salaries & Job Outlook
The national average for medical assistant salaries is around $37,190 per year, or around $18 per hour.
This can vary based on location, experience, certification, and specialty. For example, getting a medical assistant certification means you can earn about 10% more than a non-certified medical assistant.
Dermatology medical assistant jobs are listed as starting at $18-$25 per hour, varying by location and prior experience.
If you are planning on making medical assisting your career, you will probably never have to worry about job security. The demand for medical assistants is expected to grow by 16% over the next decade.
With an aging population, it will probably continue to grow for many years. Medical cosmetic centers are also gaining popularity, and sometimes hire dermatology medical assistants.
How to Become a Dermatology Medical Assistant
Becoming a medical assisting is one of the best choices for people wanting to get started working in the healthcare field right away. You can either choose to get a medical assistant job with no experience or opt to go through a training program and get certified.
- Obtain your high school diploma or GED. A high school diploma or GED is required for anyone wanting to be a medical assistant. You must finish either one before you can apply for jobs or get into a medical assisting program.
- Get your certification (optional). Certification courses are available, online, through technical colleges, and community colleges. You can complete your certification in as little as 6 weeks through some programs, with most averaging around 4 to 12 months. Here at Stepful, for example, we have an online medical assistant training program that takes 4 months to complete and costs just $1,999.
- Take some special courses (optional). If you would like to boost up your resume and become a more competitive candidate, you can take courses in medical terminology, medical billing, or phlebotomy.
- Apply for jobs. There are plenty of jobs available for medical assistants all over the country. Looking on websites like indeed.com or monster.com gives you hundreds of options. You can also look for medical assistant roles with on-the-job training if you decide not to go through an educational program first.
- Start working. After completing the above steps, you will be ready to start on your rewarding career as a medical assistant.
See Other Medical Assistant Specialties
Check out some of our other guides on medical assistant specialties to see if a different one may be right for you: