Monday, August 29, 2011

The Chiropractic Assistant

The chiropractor can't do it all alone. The chiropractor's job is to focus on the patient's concerns and recovery, typically an average of 122 patients a week, of which 5-6 are new patients and does not want to get involved in answering the phones, file medical charts, register new patients, verify their referrals and insurance information and book appointment. Therefore, most chiropractors hire at least 2-3 staff members to keep the front and back office area workflow on track and running smoothly.

A chiropractic assistant's morning will likely start with cleaning the waiting room, pulling patient charts, opening the office, registering patients for their appointment, setting up the treatment areas and monitoring them during their prescribed treatments. Also:
• customer service
• excellent interpersonal communication
• patient and office safety
• administrative and clinical tasks
• strong Computer skills
• First aid and CPR certified
The chiropractor's office hours typically are Monday through Friday from 8:00AM to 5:00PM; no holidays and weekends, unless they are asked to work on Saturdays to accommodate patients that cannot come to the office during regular work-week hours.

One of the chiropractic assistant’s most important duties is to register new patients, answer phones, pull and maintain medical files and records, schedule patient visits, explain treatment goals and monitor patient’s responses to treatments. At times, under the chiropractor’s direct supervision, they will lift, move and position patients during individual, or group treatment activities, assist during massage therapy, decompression, traction, or electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, heat therapy and provide instruction during therapeutic exercises, while seeking additional assistance when problems arise, brining them to the immediate attention of the chiropractor.

Those wishing to enter into this newly emerging career must thoroughly research whether there are any specific licensing requirements in their state of residency and the location in which they will practice their skill. Some of the equipment typically used are infrared lamps, ice- and heat packs, ultrasound and x-ray equipment, some of which may require a special license (e.g. medical assistants, who expose patients to radiographic imaging devices, may need a limited x-ray permit in order to practice in their state).

Chiropractic Assistant Qualifications

One important employment prerequisite might be to have a limited x-ray license, since radiological imaging is such a big part of the chiropractor's work.
Additional job specific requirements might be:
• Chiropractic assistant certification through a state approved program
• Limited x-ray and ultrasound license
• One year experience working as a chiropractic or medical assistant
• Attending workshops and continuing education programs
Furthermore, chiropractic assistants, just like medical assistants, are often expected to attend department staff meetings and in-service programs. If certified, they are expected to maintain their certification status active and up-to-date through the professional membership association who provided their credential. Their pay rate is based on location, training, credentials and years of experience. 

Chiropractic Assistant in Florida
To work as a Chiropractic Assistant in Florida you need to apply and register with the State, or more precisely the Board of Chiropractic Medicine which runs under the Florida Department of Health. The application process is rather simple. The registration fee is $25, plus a $5 unlicensed activity fee, which is non-refundable. It is wise to read Section 460 of the Florida Statutes and Rule Chapter 64B2, Florida Administrative Code before you send in your application and money.

The registered chiropractic application form can be obtained directly from the Department of Health, Post Office Box 6330 Tallahassee, Florida 32314-6330 or downloaded online

On the form you will provide your full name, address, phone number, email and social security number and answer a few yes and no questions, such as whether you have been enrolled, or participated in any drug or alcohol recovery program, been treated for a diagnosed mental or physical disorder within the last five years. You and your supervisor will sign that you have carefully read the questions in the foregoing application and have answered them completely, without reservations of any kind and declare, that your answers and all statements made by me herein are true and correct, and that's pretty much it, except, your employer might prefer that you also have a limited x-ray license.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Medical Assistant or Nursing?

Medical Assistant or Nursing?

Medical Assistant or Nurse? Which is Better?

What Is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants are non-licensed members of the medical office team. Doctors in private and group practices prefer to hire them because they are trained specifically for the medical office and are often more cost efficient (less pay) than RNs or LPNs. They work under the direct supervision of a doctor, in the front and back office of the practice, usually Mondays through Fridays, from 8-5 PM and rarely on weekends or holidays, which some feel are better hours than those in nursing. They are utilized in the administrative, laboratory, or clinical areas depending on the office's specific needs.

The medical assistant curriculum typically covers general clinical and administrative medical office skills and knowledge such as medical office administration, patient appointment scheduling and medical transcription. Some medical assistants are trained directly on the job without any formal training in a medical office and may include health insurance billing procedures, appointment referrals and medical records management, which is not typically taught in a nursing program.

The difference between medical assisting and nursing is that the medical assistant's skills are geared toward ambulatory care and medical office management in a doctor's office, while nursing is geared toward providing skilled medical and health care for the sick, chronically ill, or dying.

Medical assistants work under direct supervision of the doctor

In Comparison, What Is A Nurse?

Nurses, on the other hand, work independently and as part of a team to assess, plan, implement and evaluate patient care in different specialties and different shifts. They are registered and licensed within their state and are allowed to perform more complex patient care procedures than a medical assistant, such as drawing arterial blood samples, administering chemotherapy, or starting and flushing IV tubing.

Some pull doubles and many work on weekends, holidays, on-call and per diem. The nurse's training is geared toward hospital or institutionalized patient care and mainly focuses on the foundations of traditional nursing and patient care, which is taking care of people that are sick, injured, infirm, or elderly in a hospital, institution, or nursing home. Their focus area lies on the anatomy and inner workings of the body, disease processes, medical management of diseases, conditions and nursing interventions associated with each disease, physiology, chemistry and pharmacology.

Significant differences:
  • wages and benefits
  • work hours
  • duties
  • continuing education
  • scope of practice
  • supervision
  • licensing
  • education
A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) can spend from 12 to 18 months in an accredited nursing school and then must take the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nursing (NCLEX PN). The Registered Nurse (RN) associate degree takes at 2 years of full time college attendance, followed by the entry-level Nursing Competence Exam for Licensure as Registered Nurses, the NCLEX-RN. There also are 4 year programs in nursing which end in a nursing degree that leads to highly respected RN credentials.

Why I Became a Medical Assistant and NOT a Nurse

Is RN Better than LPN?

Anybody would be hard pressed to state with occupation is better, nursing or medical assisting, since both occupations have their place in health care as a whole. Each discipline has its specific place and purpose, even though there is a plethora of never ending discussions on the Internet revolving around this topic, going back and forth. We invite you to do your own research to find out what is right for you. Check your local newspaper and job offers in your area to see who and where medical assistants are hired and who is hiring RNs and LPNs. In reading the job offers you can also learn much about the kind of duties and responsibilities each one has and what employers expect and are willing to pay.

To learn more about the medical assisting career and what a medical assistant does please visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Announcing the NEXT Level in Your Medical Assisting Career: Specialty Certified Medical Assistant (SCMA™)

Over the last few years there has been increased awareness and overwhelming interest in  certification and specialization among medical assistants in the United States. Experienced medical assistants know how important recognized credentials are to their success.

The medical and healthcare industry has matured to the point where doctors, clinics and facilities recruiting new medical assistant staff ask their applicants about credentials, experience and unique qualifications they may have to do the job. They know that medical assistants who are certified, or specialized will meet widely-recognized standards for professional excellence and are up to date on the latest techniques and research in their field. When physicians review resumes they want to hire a professional. 

"Hiring a certified medical assistant makes everyone's job easier. Those medical assistants who earned a designation have a proven track record of continuing education and expertise in their discipline. This means better customer satisfaction and happier patients." 

Those looking to document their professional expertise and wishing to earn a unique distinction in their specific focus field can now do so by taking the Specialty Certified Medical Assistant(tm) (SCMA) exam, the only medical assistant certification with a therapeutic focus provided by Certification Commission, which is the highest and most widely-recognized standard for professional excellence in a medical specialty field AND specific therapeutic area. 
Specialty Certified Medical Assistant (SCMA™) certification in therapeutic specialties are presently offered in:
·         Family Medicine (SCMA-FM™) 
·         Geriatrics (SCMA-G™)
·         Internal Medicine (SCMA-IM™)
·         OB/GYN (SCMA-OBG™)
·         Pediatrics (SCMA-PD™)
·         Transplantation Surgery (SCMA-TTS™)
·         Cardiology (SCMA-CD™)
·         Oncology (SCMA-ON™)
·         Urology (SCMA-U™)
·         Endocrinology (SCMA-END™)
·         Women’s Health (SCMA-WH™)

Once certified through Certification Commission you have earned the distinct privilege to list this unique credential after your name; for example, as a member who completed the pediatrics certification you can list your name in either of the following ways: Jane Doe, SCMA-PD™, or Jane Doe, SCMA(PD)™. It proves that you are fully trained and dedicated to the particular therapeutic area.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Every Future Medical Assistant Student Needs to Know About Finding the Right Vocational Training Program

People enrolling in medical assisting training programs run the gamut of age. Most of today's vocational training program students are people seeking post-secondary education as a means of career change or much needed vocational rehab to get back into the workforce. Their ages typically range in the late 20s to 30s along with people in their 40s and 50s, which is not unusual. If you are one among them, then here are some quick tips when contacting a vocational training school that interests you:

Ask them whether the program is completely campus based, or a combination of classroom instruction and online, or one hundred percent online based.

Find out how long the program will take from start to finish and what kind of documentation you will receive upon graduation. If it is an online course, ask whether your certificate or diploma you earned will state "online program". You may, or may not want that.  Ask how long the program has been in existence and how many people have graduated successfully. Find out whether it costs extra to repeat their finals, in case you need to take them twice.

Ask whether the school and their programs are accredited by the Department of Education, CAAHEP, ABHES, or any other recognized entity, and if the answer is no, find out whether they have applied for accreditation (accreditation is pending). This is an important question because it will also play a role in your ability to obtain financial aid, grants and student loans if you are looking for education funding sources and whether you will qualify to sit for important national medical assistant certification exams.

Ask whether you will need to buy scrubs, equipment such as a stethoscope, laptop and (most certainly!) textbooks. Find out ahead of time which books they will use in the program. Also, be sure to ask which professional credentials you will receive and if there is a professional membership association, or local chapter for this credential for peer-to-peer networking and support. It is also important to find out if the school has an externship requirement where students are required to complete a supervised clinical practicum at a medical facility that includes supervised competencies and evaluations completed at the facility.

Ask whether the school has a  job referral program or job placement assistance and last but not least, request an itemized list of all costs involved, including tuition, books and any certification exam application fees. To learn more about the medical assisting career and what a medical assistant does please visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web.

Monday, August 08, 2011

What Medical Assistants Need to Know About CMA and RMA Certification, Licensure, Limited Licenses and Permits

A member of our Medical Assistant Community Forum who calls herself New RMA asked the following question:
"I'm in Charlotte, NC. I just completed an eight-month, VERY INTENSE, Medical Assisting program, including a two month externship at a private practice. I was then eligible to sit for the RMA exam and passed with a near-perfect score. The question came up several times during my training about what the differences were between RMA/CMA designation. We were told repeatedly that there is no difference in qualifications, just that the CMA title is older and more widely recognized, and for that reason has, until now, usually been paid more."

Certification and Registration

In the United States of America certification and registration for medical assistants remains a largely voluntary process to identify a medical assistant as having achieved certain standards established by a professional organization, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and American Medical Technologists (AMT). These well known professional membership associations have been certifying healthcare professionals and granted them active certification status for many decades.

Upon passing their proprietary standardized certification exam the medical assistant receives their credential, such as Certified Medical Assistant® (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) and is now medical assistant certified or registered.  Both, the CMA and the RMA certification exams are given throughout the United States.

In 2006 the AMT sought legal counsel against the AAMA spurred by misconceptions about the proper use of the words certified medical assistant and employer's preferred advertising and hiring of CMA. To ward off one-sided job placement, confusion about the credentials and possible discrimination against the RMA the AMT established that the designation of RMA was in fact equal to CMA and that any employer that recognizes the CMA should be equally willing to hire medical assistants with the RMA designation.

CMA refers to Certified Medical Assistant, while RMA refers to Registered Medical Assistant. Certification for medical assistants is the same as registration, which means medical assistants who are registered are also certified on a national level by passing a proprietary medical assistant certification exam.

If you are an RMA applying for jobs advertising certified medical assistant, or CMA only, you can obtain a letter from AMT explaining that the RMA is just as qualified to fill medical assistant positions as the CMA. See: AMT v. AAMA, a lawsuit filed in federal district court in October 2006

Professional Licensure

Licensure refers to the granting of a license, which gives permission to practice, operate, or provide specific skills, equipment and services. Licensing differs from certification in as much as it is enforced by the government, usually at state level, through a system of processes that authorizes, identifies and tracks a health professional's conduct. The purpose is to regulate and control healthcare professionals and practicing clinicians by means of licensure. All practicing physcians must be licensed. If they violate any rules or laws their license to practice medicine can be revoked or suspended. At present, no state in the USA has instituted state licensure for medical assistants.


For language's sake, the use of the term licensing is often used a tad-bit different than licensure although essentially it is synonymous and means the same. Certain types of professionals, businesses and even activities in the United States need to be licensed and certain licenses must be obtained before being allowed to drive a motor vehicle, operate a crane, carry a firearm, or go fishing and hunting, to name just a few. In the end it's still the same: licensing is required, because it regulates certain activities and professions and grants permission to practice certain skills safely. Here are some examples of professionals that require licensure and businesses that must be licensed in order to provide their services to the public:

  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Blood Banks
  • Body Piercing Artists
  • Cosmetologists
  • Counselors
  • Dentists
  • Dietitians
  • Doctors
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Electricians
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Family Therapists
  • Funeral Directors
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Laboratories
  • Medical Test Sites
  • Nurses
  • Opticians
  • Osteopathic Physicians
  • Physical Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Radiological Technologists
  • Social Workers
  • Veterinarians
  • X-Ray Facilities
  • X-Ray Technicians

Limited Licenses and Special Permits

When a medical assistant is expected to draw blood, or take x-rays they must be aware that certain states have mandatory educational requirements before they can perform certain duties and may be required to carry a permit, or obtain a license in order to perform certain procedures, such as phlebotomy, radiography, start IV lines, or give certain or any injections. Anyone wishing to work as a medical assistant should carefully research whether there are specific laws that regulate the medical assistant profession and any special licenses or permits are required in their state.

Medical assistants and their supervisors can check with their state's Department of Health, Department of Nursing, State Medical Board, Board of Medical Examiners, Department of Licensing, State Bar Association (legal and attorneys), etc. for details about any special licensing requirements in their state, or how to obtain certain permits if so required.