Medical assistants are unlicensed employees in the healthcare system, and local and state laws require that a supervising physician, surgeon, or podiatrist must be present whenever clinical tasks, especially direct patient care procedures, are performed.
Employers, often doctors, who are willing to train their medical assistant directly on the job usually expect at least some prior related work experience in a professional office setting, but what if the medical assistant will be working on the clinical floors administering direct patient care as part of the daily routine?
We know that often there is confusion, because we receive many emails and forum post with questions about specific clinical duties. These questions almost always revolve around whether a medical assistant is allowed to do a certain tasks, such as:
- Holter Monitor and ECG/EKG
- physical therapy
- start IV lines
- transcutaneous nerve stimulation
- hot and cold pack treatments
- nebulizer treatments
There still are certain laws that regulate the medical assistant's duties, and spell out what a medical assistant can and cannot do, especially in a clinical setting, for example, some US states mandate limited licenses, or recognized certifications in certain medical technical procedures, such as phlebotomy, IV therapy, and exposing patients to x-rays, or certain therapeutic modalities.
This in turn, also strongly influences what should, and can be taught. If you are planning to pursue a medical assistant career, or are in charge of training a new medical assistant, but are unsure whether there are certain limits, or restrictions, the best source of information regarding the medical assistant's scope of practice is your state's Medical Board/Board of Medical Examiners, State Nursing Board, Department of Health, and professional membership organizations for medical assistants, such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), or American Medical Technologists (AMT) legal department.