Differentiating a Medical Assistant from a Medical Specialist

The pandemic brought a new level of respect and admiration for medical personnel. They put their lives on the line for the sake of others. Such heroism inspired many to enroll in medical degrees. 

Unfortunately, such a study can be pretty costly. Thankfully, you can still pursue your dream by enrolling in medical assistant classes. Doing so is a more economical option. 

You might be wondering the difference between a medical assistant and a medical office specialist. Learning the distinction will help you choose the right career path. Thus, you will have the determination to finish the degree.

Public-Facing Roles

Whether you have a medical assistant or a medical office specialist, you will be the one welcoming the coming patients. You will be greeting patients, taking their vital signs, and offering them treatment and other services. One of your primary responsibilities is to be continually communicating with the patients. 

Being able to communicate effectively and empathize will be critical. When they are receiving negative news, you are the one who will offer comfort and support. You will be privy to medical records, which is why you have to have a high level of ethics.

Office Tasks

Both career paths require you to do office tasks. You do not need a medical assistant degree to learn office skills, but you will need it to file medical records correctly.  

The medical office specialist degree involves office tasks as well. You will use office equipment resources and know how to maintain patient medical records, including billing and coding.

Both career paths are advantageous in their way. If you have a passion for patients, you cannot go wrong with either one. 

Where Do They Work?

Medical assistants and medical office specialists work for doctors’ offices and clinics.  They also work for hospitals, surgery centers, and other medical facilities. Their work environment will depend on what the practice specializes in.

Medical assistants and medical office specialists are susceptible to working long hours, but they still enjoy the work they do. It is somewhat stressful, but they can handle it.

What Are the Major Distinction between the Two Career Paths?

Medical assistants and medical office specialists are two distinct career paths. But both career paths provide medical support to patients, run errands, and do other office duties.

The two career paths are different in degree, experience, training, and responsibilities. Medical assistants need a two-year degree while medical office specialists have more extensive training.

Medical assistants perform more clinical tasks and are in direct contact with patients. They run errands, take vital signs, maintain medical records, and prepare patients for treatment. Medical assistants are also the patient’s primary source of communication. They notify the patient of their health status.  

Medical office specialists have a broader scope of responsibilities. As previously mentioned, they are the office’s primary source of support. They are in charge of overseeing the entire medical office’s operations, from scheduling appointments and finances.


Medical assistants and medical office specialists are both essential to the healthcare industry. In fact, they hold the entire healthcare system together.

Both medical assistant and medical office specialist career paths offer great career opportunities. Your choice will depend largely on which setting you would want to work in.

If you want to become a medical assistant, you can enroll in Northwest Suburban College. Our curriculum is designed to equip our graduates with the necessary knowledge to succeed in their field. You may call us to learn more about our program. 

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