Where do Medical Assistants Fit In?
In the several years I’ve been teaching students about the Medical Assistant profession, I have been asked numerous times by both healthcare professionals and non-healthcare professionals, “what does a Medical Assistant do?” Each time I’ve been taken aback by this. What do you mean what does a Medical Assistant do? The truth is; we do a lot!
Medical Assistants duties typicall fall somewhere between a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an LPN (License Practical Nurse). However, with the advanced training options available today, MA’s are taking their place next to the LPN’s.
MA’s are primarily used in physician offices, but are not limited to them. They have been known to work in hospitals under the title of a PCT (Patient Care Technician). The duties are very similar. While it is important for an MA not to work out of their scope of practice, it is just as significant for an MA not to limit his or herself to one particular specialty. MA’s can be used in so many areas, which has resulted in the broadening of the MA’s medical knowledge.
As an MA, it is your duty to make sure that adequate care and consideration is given to each and every patient you encounter in your facility. You are the liaison between the physician and the patient. If there is an RN or LPN working at your facility, then you also serve as support staff to them. This involves front office reception, administrative and clerical skills, which lead into back office clinical skills. A front office MA will greet each patient, check patients in for their appointment, reschedule appointments, process insurance verification and answer phones among many other things.
A clinical MA will triage patients, take vitals, perform CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) approved POL (Physician's Office Laboratories) testing such as Urinalysis, Glucometer readings, pregnancy testing, Hemoglobin readings and other Venipuncture procedures. A clinical MA will also perform EKG’s, Peak flows, assist the physician in minor surgical procedures, school physicals, DOT physicals, child vaccinations, medication injections and pharmacy verification. The clinical MA is also responsible for the quality control of waive testing equipment used at the facility.
For a typical visit to your doctor’s office it is a Medical Assistant or MA who assists you and is your first point of contact after the reception desk.