Monday, November 15, 2010

Choosing the BEST Medical Assistant Program that's RIGHT for You

Step 1: Decide What's Right for You

Set your goals and follow your heart:

Once you have decided that medical assisting is for you, you will have to find a medical assistant training to learn the trade. Medical assistants work in the front and back office of ambulatory medical clinics, and practices under the direct supervision of a licensed health care practitioner, such as a medical doctor. You will need to know administrative and clinical procedures to help the doctor to keep the work flow of the medical practice running smoothly and reliably.

The best training comes from a local vocational training institution, or community college that offers a Medical Assisting Program. The better schools are those that are those recognized by a branch of the U.S. Department of Education, and accredited by CAAHEP, or ABHES (you can google these acronyms for their definition). 

So, the first thing you'd want to ask is: is the program recognized and approved by those organizations. The next thing you will ask, will I be able to sit for nationally recognized medical assistant certification exams, since your chances of landing the better jobs and better pay are greater when you are certified. After that you can ask, how much will it cost and how long does it take to finish the program.

Step 2: Choose a Program

What to ask when exploring a medical assisting program:

Undoubtedly you will arrive at a point where you will ask: "Can this school be right for me?". Here are additional considerations when choosing a medical assisting program that's right for you. Ask this:

* What is the school's success rate (% graduates)?
* Is the school planning to pursue accreditation status?
* Is the institution licensed by regulatory entity in their state?
* Will I be eligible to sit for national certification exam once I have graduated?
* Will I be able to transfer educational credits earned to other schools?
* Does the program offer clinical training and an externship to solidify learned skills?
* If it is an online program will it help me to advance in my career?
* What are the attendance and early withdrawal rules?
* Will I get a refund should I need to withdraw early?
* Will the school assist me in job placement?

Step 3: Consumer Beware

Look before you leap! Recognize the good from the bad:

What if you want to join an ONLINE medical assistant program? Should you steer clear if that program is NOT accredited by recognized accreditors? 

Well, it is entirely up to you, what your goals are, and what will work best for you financially, and in the long run. Nobody in the USA says that medical assistants cannot work in a medical office, or clinic unless they graduated from an accredited school. Heck, there are thousands of very good medical assistants that were trained right on the job.

However, more and more employers are seeking medical assistants with formal training and certifications primarily as a business strategy and liability reasons.

Having said that, let us assure you that there ARE many legitimate institutions, and cyber-schools that offer quality vocational education programs online that lead to certificates, diplomas, and degrees, which are not necessarily accredited (yet!). Often, they are maintained by a traditional brick-and-mortar campus where related classes are held in a real classroom that is licensed by their local Department of Education (USA). Many of them are in the process of getting their regional accreditation status to attest to their program's quality. And yes, there are institutions, and cyber-schools that choose not to seek accreditation for various reasons. It is entirely your choice, and up to you to do your research and decide which route to take.

To learn more about the medical assisting career please visit Medical Assistant NET on the Web. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dos and Don'ts in Medical Record Charting

1. ALL ENTRIES in medical records must be LEGIBLE, DATED AND SIGNED including their professional title and IDENTIFICATION so that any future reader can identify each entry's author.

2. Avoid using problem prone abbreviations listed in Table I below. Do not use abbreviations Use only abbreviations and symbols approved by your medical office, clinic, or hospital.

3. Use only approved chart forms with the patient's name, the date, and the time recorded on each sheet and on, if applicable, both sides of every sheet in the record.

4. Use ink; never pencil.

5. Don't skip lines or leave spaces between entries.

6. Don't use vague, non-descriptive terms.

7. Don't get personal. Comments cannot be removed or changed. Refrain from entering into the chart any statement that does not deal directly with the patient's diagnosis, treatment, care or condition.

8. Don't use the medical record to comment on other health-care professionals or their actions.

9. Don't wait until the end of the day to chart.

10. Don't back date, add to or tamper with notes on the medical record.

11. Don't use terms unless medical assistants know what they mean.

12. Always legibly identify yourself by signature, or initials.

13. All entries in the medical record must be signed by the author. Federal law mandates that only the author can sign his/her entries in medical records.

Abbreviation to Avoid

Intended Meaning






Premature discontinuation of medication (intended to mean discharge) especially when followed by a list of discharge medications.

Use "discharge" and "discontinue"


Magnesium sulfate

Morphine sulfate


Morphine sulfate

Magnesium sulfate





Zinc sulfate

Morphine sulfate

q.d. or QD

every day

Mistaken as q.i.d. especially if the period after the "q" or the tail of the "q" is misunderstood as an "I".

Use "daily" or "every day"

If abbreviation is used, capitalize and avoid use of periods.

q.o.d. or QOD

every other day

Misinterpreted as "qd"(daily) or "qid" (four times daily) if the "o" is poorly written

Use "every other day". If abbreviation is used, capitalize and avoid use of periods.

U or u


Read as zero (0) or a four (4) causing a 10-fold overdose or greater (4U seen as "40" or 4u seen as "44").

Unit has no acceptable abbreviations. Use "unit".


international units

Misread as IV (intravenous)

Use "units"


three times a week

Mistaken as "three times a day"

Spell out "three times a week"


each ear

Mistaken for OU "each eye"


sliding scale (insulin) mistaken

for "55"

Spell out "sliding scale"

Zero after decimal point 1.0 (trailing zero)

1 mg

Mistaken as 10 mg if the decimal point is not seen

Do not use trailing zero's

No zero before a decimal dose .5 mg (no leading zero)

0.5 mg

Misread as 5 mg

Always use zero before a decimal when the dose is less than a whole unit


 (both medical office and phone call situations)!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

New! Review Important Medical Office Concepts and Skills!

We offer a creative look behind the scenes of a busy medical office. The purpose is to help you self evaluate your knowledge and skills, and become more successful in your chosen career.

Our Promise To Help You:
Locate a good medical assistant school for you nearby
Find the best online medical assistant training programs
Understand important medical office concepts and skills

It's 100% free!
The role of the medical assistant as part of the core health care team is becoming increasingly important and the demands on their knowledge and skills are rapidly increasing. Employers and job agencies are screaming for more qualified front and back office assistive staff and are ready to recruit well trained medical assistants for available positions in the administrative and clinical areas. Therefore, new medical assistants should take every opportunity to enhance, solidify, and further their knowledge and skills in order to remain efficient and competitive in our modern and rapidly advancing healthcare system.

The goal is to introduce you to  the multi-disciplinary aspects of medical assistant duties and reinforce basic theories and concepts that are taught in a medical assistant school, with special focus on issues that are typically encountered daily in a busy medical office. From organizational and clinical skills, to infection control, to administrative responsibilities, such as medical record keeping and management... each and every lesson highlights important skills that medical assistants must know.

  Skills Reviewed:

1. Concepts of health and illness
2. Patients' Bill of Rights and responsibilities
3. Key elements of professional practice
4. Concept of professional ethics
5. Important personality traits of a healthcare professional
6. Factors that can affect interpersonal relations
7. Communication techniques used in a healthcare setting

Coming Soon!

It is of vital importance that the medical assistant knows applicable state laws, local scope of practice regulations, and also acquire a good grasp on skills and knowledge beyond basic patient procedures and philosophies. These skills may also include assisting with emergency procedures, small surgeries, patient education, health insurance regulations, and concerns of the terminally ill patient! Knowing the law and mastering the various skills provides a solid base from which to grow as a medical assistant in a modern health care system.

8. Recognizing the importance of patient education
9. Policies pertaining to consent for medical treatment, incident reports, and release of medical information
10. Proper patient care reporting and assessment procedures
11. Evaluating the needs of a medical patient
12. Non-emergency ambulatory care provided for patients
13. Needs of a surgical patient during the preoperative and postoperative phases of treatment
14. Evaluate the needs of the orthopedic patient...
And more.
15. Uses and application procedures for dressings and bandages

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Medical Assisting: Fundamentals of Patient Care


Medical Assisting: Fundamentals of Patient Care

Are you planning a career in medical assisting? Are you currently employed and need to upgrade your knowledge? Do you recognize a need for additional learning beyond basic patient procedures? Have you been out of the profession and want to come back again but don’t know where to start?

With the recent changes in the healthcare system, the role of the medical assistant is becoming increasingly important. The demands on the medial assistant’s knowledge are rapidly increasing. Recruiting of medical assistants into medical offices, clinics, and hospitals is becoming more and more the norm.

If you are a medical assistant or interested in the medical assistant profession, with primary focus on clinical aspects, you might benefit greatly from my new website. 

This new medical assistant website closely resembles a simple online course. 

It is perfect for beginners as well as those who have already completed some level of training. Come in to recall basic principles of medical assisting, solidify your knowledge of effective and efficient techniques in contemporary patient care, and review important topics and necessary skills you should know as a medical assistant in a modern healthcare system.

As a former medical assistant educator I found that students who remain focused and work diligently through each lesson are able to finish a similar syllabus within a rather short time (36 - 40 hours over 5 weeks.)  Here you can work at your own pace, but please remember that any student with a thirty day period of inactivity will have to be removed. Please don't let this happen to you.

I firmly believe that acquiring a good grasp on skills and knowledge related to patient care, professional conduct, standard rules of safety, hygiene, aseptic techniques, as well as medical office management and legal issues provides a solid base from which to grow as a medical assistant.

This is a rather detailed medical assistant review, but it is by no means meant to be a replacement of the medical assisting curriculum taught at your local vocational training institutions or college medical assistant program.

Some knowledge of medical terminology and basic word parts may be helpful. The course follows a similar pattern a medial assisting text book would, but the difference is that this course is compacted to the most relevant information to give you solid, basic understanding of patient care and various situations that come along with it.

Danni R., CMA speaks

Do Medical Assistants Need Continuing Education?

Most certified professionals are required by industry standards to keep their credentials current through annual continuing education units (CEU). Medical assistants need CEUs to maintain their certification status.  Medical assistants, who want to keep their certification status current must document that they have taken approved continuing education courses and submit the transcripts to their professional membership association, or sponsoring certifying body to be approved.

The CEUs topics must apply to the scope of practice of the medical assistant's discipline and must be current.
Partaking in continuing education programs or workshops while the certification is still active shows that the person is serious about his/her career and takes a proactive interest in their future.
Non-certified medical assistants also benefit greatly from participating in continuing education programs, since subject related continuing education courses are an effective means of keeping skills and knowledge current for any professional, certified or not. Also, continuing education works wonders for the resume, since it is an accepted way to further professional knowledge, competence, and skills.