Friday, December 16, 2011

Role of the Medical Assistant - Essential to Medical Offices Everywhere

Anonymous said today...

CMAs are not nurses. They are not LPNs or RNs. CMAs cannot work independently. You don't have a license. You can't pass meds. As an LPN I do a full med pass (IM/SQ injections, PO meds, inhalers, etc...) treatments (wound tx, creams, etc). Neuro assessments, skin assessments, pain assessments, behavioral assessments... put phys orders in, change orders, order UAs based on MY assessments (MD can sign later). Deal with trachs, feeding tubes, ostomys, pressure ulcers, diabetics, PICC lines, post-op pts. you name it. And all of this is with a doctor not present. More responsibility = more pay and more respect and more knowledge. As far as vitals? Shit my STNAs do those. Do people really think getting vitals is a skill??? And when I'm working with crappy STNAs I also will wash and toilet my patients (all 26 of them). I bust my ass and I don't count it done unless I see a STNA do it or I do it myself. I'm sick of CMAs who walk a pt to a room, get a set of vitals, ask some questions and leave-acting like they have any idea what LPNs do. You dont even pass meds. Seriously. Know your role. LOL.

Just A Medical Assistant said:

Let's not belittle medical assistants and marginalize their role! Medical assistants are ESSENTIAL to the modern single-doctor or group medical practice within ANY medical specialty. Let me tell you, and other LPNs and nurses, who often are just as confused as to what medical assistants can and cannot do,  as you seem to be.

This is the SHORT summary of medical assistant duties:

Medical assistants are essential to the medical office. For every nurse in the medical office you now find at least 2 medical assistants, one in the front office, and one in the back. Medical assistants typically build strong, long lasting relationships with the doctor, their colleagues, nursing staff and patients. At the end of the day, they return home knowing they have made a difference in many people's lives in their community. If a mother has a sick child the administrative medical assistant will fit them into the doctor's schedule to be seen, if blood, or any other specimens need to be collected, such as a throat or wound swab for a bacterial culture, the clinical medical assistant will take care of that. Chances are the clinical medical assistant is fully trained and qualified to take the administrative medical assistant's chair up front, and the administrative medical assistant can slip into the role of the medical assist in the back handling clinical tasks under the supervision of the doctor.

If the doctor prescribes crutches, a walker, or cane, then it will be the medical assistant's responsibility to make sure the patient returns home knowing how to safely use these devices. The medical assistant's role is to make sure that adequate care and attention is given to each and every patient who arrives and leaves from their doctor's appointment, young or old, and of course, appropriately handle any unforeseen situations, including medical emergencies, promptly notifying the doctor of any such critical events.

Aside from "just" taking vital signs and "only" escorting a patient to the examination room medical assistants know how to use the latest Electronic Medical Records databases and software, explain treatment procedures, prepare, position and drape patients for examinations (yes, they do know what Trendelenburg is, distal, lateral, medial and supine, etc.), give injections, pulmonary function test, EKG, Holter monitor, splints, bandages, eye and ear lavage and assist the physician when asked during an exam, or a procedure.

They also respond to patient's concerns in a courteous and professional manner, route their messages to the intended person, and respond back with an answer if so requested, help patients obtain their prescriptions, show them how to correctly take medications, draw blood, monitor patients and make them feel comfortable during the entire visit.

Furthermore, the medical assistant keeps the doctor on schedule in a succinct manner, patients informed and comfortable, waiting and examination rooms clean, reception area and clinical floors on track and the office workflow running smoothly. And no matter how busy the office gets, from time to time they have to show new medical assistant hirees and medical assistant students on externship the ropes so they can learn the necessary routines. All in all, a medical assistant is an important contributor to the doctor's medical practice and business.

In Conclusion: I don't know what a STNA is; furthermore I have to add that many of the LPN skills listed in the above post truly fall under the classical nursing duties that is essential to in-patient, in-hospital, or nursing home care. Medical assistants do not wash patients, we don't toilet patients, and rarely do you attend or monitor patients with trachs, feeding tubes, ostomys, pressure ulcers, diabetics, PICC lines, or post-op patients in an ambulatory setting. With all due respect to the nursing profession, I do believe this LPN is working in a nursing home (where she is well within her element) and is mistaking medical assistants with nursing assistants, or, at least, not fully aware of the medical assistant's role and scope of practice. I hope this article and posted link helps.

More at Medical Assistant NET website.

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