Medical Assistants are Essential Workers

Medical Assistants

In times of crisis, many look to doctors and nurses as frontline workers. Public health professionals struggle to disseminate information in a crisis, and they rely on frontline healthcare workers to help patients separate fact from fear. Doctors and nurses are important, but they can’t do it alone. Some forget that medical assistants are essential workers too.

Medical assistants are on the frontlines, assisting doctors and nurses, allowing them to help more patients. Medical assistants manage patients in doctor’s offices and hospitals, helping the patients to reduce anxiety. A crisis can be worrisome, and a good medical assistant has empathy and compassion. They understand what a patient is going through and can help reduce fear through education. Medical assistants can educate patients about proper hygiene, how to prevent the spread of a virus, and when to contact their doctor. Medical assistants perform lifesaving tests and administer vaccines. They are responsible for administering virus and disease testing, blood draws and other laboratory testing needed during a crisis. For students interested in a rewarding career as a medical assistant, the time to seek training through an affordable vocational school program is now. Patients are waiting.

What are Essential Workers?

An essential worker is someone who is required to work during a business closure in order to meet operational requirements. In this crisis, an essential worker is important to the safety of human life and the protection of property. Examples include medical professionals, first responders, energy employees, water and sanitation, public workers, communication and information technology, financial services, law enforcement personnel, transit and delivery employees, and food processors.

A medical assistant handles the many details that are an integral part of what is essential. They do both clinical and administrative tasks so doctors and nurses can concentrate on what they do best, treating the ill. Medical assistants are essential workers.

What Do Medical Assistants Do During a Crisis?

Medical assistants provide support for doctors and nurses in private practices and hospitals. Four out of five medical assistants are employed in doctor’s offices, putting them on the frontline of a public health crisis. The regular duties of a medical assistant during a crisis include:

  • Greeting patients
  • Keeping the reception area clean and sterilized
  • Phone call triage
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Drawing blood
  • Performing diagnostic tests
  • Administering medications including vaccinations
  • Assisting with minor surgical procedures
  • Arranging referrals
  • Submitting insurance claims
  • Ordering supplies
  • Patient education

Now more than ever, patients depend on their primary providers, and their medical assistants, for care. During a healthcare crisis, medical assistants use their clinical expertise to ensure patients who need urgent care receive it promptly. During a crisis, time is of the essence.

In a busy office, medical assistants can sanitize common touchpoints such as counters, doorknobs and pens. They can screen patients for symptoms of illness, such as fever. They can remind visitors to wash their hands and stay a safe distance from one another. Medical assistants can also use a patient’s waiting time to educate them about disease prevention. Medical assistants play an essential role during a crisis and are instrumental in saving the lives of their patients.

Final Thoughts

Medical assistants are essential workers and you can become one in as little as nine months. Many vocational schools even offer online classes to support those at home. Becoming a medical assistant is a rewarding and challenging career choice where you can help save lives daily.

Did learning about how medical assistants are essential workers interest you? Ready to work alongside colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate online to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

Helping Patients Feel Comfortable Before, During and After Dental Treatments

Dental Treatment

Research shows that preventive dentistry is a critical component in overall health, but dental phobia is real, and unless patients feel comfortable when they visit their dentist, they are unlikely to return. Dental assistants manage a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks in a dental office, but none is as essential as making patients feel comfortable and relaxed. For patients, it’s the key to a lifetime of good oral care.

Why Dental Patients Need to Feel Comfortable

A large percentage of adults in the U.S. skip dental appointments because of anxiety, rating it as stressful as a divorce or changing jobs. Patients need to have confidence in their dentist to overcome their fear, and that is where dental assistants fit in. As ambassadors for good oral health, a dental assistant’s mission is to make patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatments. This makes all the difference in helping patients feel safe and secure.

Before Dental Treatment

Dental assistants set the stage for a positive treatment experience by educating patients, answering questions, and setting expectations.

Educating Patients
Most dental treatments require patient cooperation, so it’s critical to explain procedures before they begin. From the type of anesthetic to be used to how long the process will take, an informed patient is more comfortable and cooperative when they know exactly what to expect.

Answering Questions
Anxious patients are less apt to communicate with their dental team, they have tunnel vision, but a dental assistant’s warm smile and approachable demeanor open the door for communication.

Asking open-ended questions that encourage patients to explore their feeling about their dental health is useful and makes it more likely they’ll share negative emotions. Dental assistants can then address specific concerns and help patients be better informed about their treatment options. When dentistry is less mysterious, it’s less stressful.

Setting Expectations
While most patients know what to expect from routine dental cleanings, outcomes for other dental treatments may not be as clear. Tooth whitening, for example, may not give patients the perfect Hollywood smile they expect. Dental assistants should encourage patients to be realistic about results while remembering that it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than to set unrealistic expectations.

During Dental Treatment

Dental assistants are the calming voice of comfort during dental procedures. They sit chairside, connecting with patients as dental treatments are performed by keeping patients informed, offering feedback, and maintaining physical comfort.

Keeping Patients Informed
Explaining a dental treatment before it begins is essential, but anxious patients may miss details. Dental assistants can avoid uncomfortable surprises by keeping patients informed about the progress of their procedure as it happens. By describing each step before it occurs, a dental assistant reinforces that the treatment process is going as planned.

Since the patient won’t be able to talk once their jaw is open, agreeing on a stop signal before beginning is reassuring. Patients who know they can stop drilling simply by raising their hands feel a much-needed measure of control.

For some patients, demonstrating how equipment is used may help overcome fear. Patients who’ve never seen a dental drill are often surprised to see how much smaller and less intimidating it is than a drill used for wood.

Offering Feedback
Letting patients know they’re doing a great job by staying still or keeping their mouth open reassures them that they’re being helpful and makes them feel like full partners in their dental care. The more involved patients are, the more emotionally invested they feel in their oral health, and the more likely they’ll view recommendations for future visits positively.

Maintaining Physical Comfort
Pain is among dental patients’ greatest fears. While modern dentistry makes most procedures virtually painless, popular perceptions are tough to overcome.

Dental assistants promote comfort by giving patients choices whenever possible, such as how their chair is positioned or what type of music they listen to. A dental assistant should assure patients that they will remain at chairside to meet their needs until the dental treatment is complete. Knowing the dental assistant will maintain suction and monitor their discomfort is reassuring.

After Dental Treatment

After dental treatments, patients may experience a rush of relief and want to head for the door, but dental assistants can enhance long-term satisfaction by explaining aftercare, reviewing treatment plans, and promoting regular care.

Explaining Aftercare
It’s common for patients to see their dentist, only to realize when they get home that they forgot to ask important questions. Dental assistants eliminate that mistake by carefully reviewing what patients need to know after a dental treatment, predicting what questions they may have.

Aftercare instructions should include:

  • What to expect physically, such as how much discomfort or bleeding is normal
  • How to manage pain and care for treatment sites at home
  • How to take prescribed medications
  • Symptoms to watch for and report
  • Emergency contact information

Asking patients to return-verbalize instructions ensures they understand what they’ve been told and helps them feel more comfortable in their ability to take care of themselves.

Reviewing Treatment Plans
Some dental procedures, such as fillings or extractions, may not require a follow-up appointment, but other treatments, such as braces or implants, may require multiple visits over a long period.

For continuity of care, dental assistants should review the dentist’s treatment plan with patients before they leave the practice, answering any questions they have and scheduling the next appointment.

Promoting Regular Care
Almost all people believe annual physicals help them stay healthy, but fewer than half say the same about regular dental exams. Despite the growing role of oral care in overall health, the public is largely unaware of its importance.

Dental assistants can change that by educating patients about timely topics such as:

  • Choosing the right toothbrush
  • Brushing and flossing techniques
  • Preventing gingivitis
  • Eating for dental health
  • The importance of regular cleanings
  • Taking care of dentures and orthodontic appliances
  • Understanding restoration procedures

The more patients know about dentistry in general, the more comfortable they’ll feel with treatments.

Final Thoughts

Patient satisfaction surveys repeatedly show, patients who are comfortable visiting their dentist are more likely to get regular dental care. Dental assistants, as a representative for the entire professional team, hold the power of comfort in their hands. It’s a responsible but rewarding role.

Did learning about how to help patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment interest you? Still deciding whether you want to become a dental assistant? Ready to learn more about a program that will help you become a dental assistant? The Dental Assistant Program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Dental Assistant, Dental Receptionist, Office Manager or Dental Hygienist Assistant in a dental office, specialty practice, or dental clinic. PCI Health Training Center Richardson, TX Campus offers a dental assistant program. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a dental assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information. The Dental Assistant Program is offered at our Richardson Campus.

Take A Medical Assisting Program to Help Fight Against Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Medical Assistant

COVID-19 is affecting lives across the country. People are working from home, limiting gatherings and avoiding public places to avoid exposure to this serious illness. But while there’s some uncertainty about how long preventive measures will remain in effect, one thing is clear, this novel virus is here to stay, and more qualified healthcare workers are needed on the front lines to help fight what is now a global pandemic. For anyone interested in a career in healthcare, now is the time to get involved. In as little as nine months, medical assistants can be ready to help their friends and neighbors.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

Medical assistants are valuable support specialists. They’re trained to handle many of the clinical and administrative tasks that are a part of every patient visit, freeing up doctors and nurses to spend more one-one-time time with the patients they serve.

A medical assistant’s responsibilities include:

  • Managing the doctor’s office schedule
  • Greeting patients
  • Taking vital signs
  • Maintaining medical records
  • Arranging referrals
  • Drawing blood
  • Performing lab tests
  • Ordering office supplies
  • Filling out insurance claims
  • Administering medications and vaccinations
  • Patient education
  • Assisting with minor surgical procedures

How Does a Medical Assistant Help Fight Public Health Threats?

Medical assistants serve as liaisons between patients and healthcare professionals, medical assistants are a patients’ go-to source for timely medical information. As the first person to interact with patients over the phone or when they arrive for a visit, a medical assistant’s judgment and clinical expertise is critical in ensuring patient needs are met promptly and in ways that keep others from getting sick. Duties in a pandemic include keeping waiting areas clean, following strict infection control protocols, and educating patients.

Keeping Waiting Areas Clean

Precautions such as hand hygiene and social distancing are proven weapons against the spread of infectious disease like coronavirus. Still, when patients are distracted, they quickly forget how to protect themselves and others, especially in packed waiting areas.

In addition to their typical responsibilities, medical assistants help control the spread of infection during a pandemic by:

  • Keeping soap, hand sanitizer and other supplies stocked
  • Reminding patients with symptoms of illness to keep their distance from others
  • Sanitizing common areas frequently
  • Screening patients for symptoms
  • Guiding the ill through the office in ways that limit the spread of germs

By encouraging visitors to practice good hygiene, medical assistants keep patients safe.

Following Strict Infection Control Protocols

Healthcare settings harbor germs other places don’t, so following infection control protocols is essential for keeping patients healthy. In addition to disinfecting shared equipment and sanitizing exam rooms, a medical assistant’s duties in a pandemic go even further with more deep cleaning and attention to detail.

Educating Patients

The Spanish flu caused the last worldwide pandemic. It lasted from 1918 to 1920, so no one under the age of 80 is likely to remember its impact. When patients are concerned, they need qualified sources of information to turn to when they have questions. In doctor’s offices, those sources are often medical assistants. With their clinical know-how, they help patients better understand the symptoms of this virus and when they should seek treatment. It’s all part of the effort to provide better patient care.

Training to Become a Medical Assistant

Most careers in healthcare require a college degree, but medical assistants can attend vocational school programs that offer diplomas in under a year. How can they do that? Vocational schools have a targeted curriculum. They teach the practical skills required to be a medical assistant without the elective courses associate degree students are required to take.

While most programs are typically on-campus, social distancing has prompted most schools to temporarily transition to online learning. Most of a medical assisting program, except for labs and a short-supervised externship, can be taken from the comfort of home. Graduates can be ready to help and work full time in the field in as little as nine months.

For anyone out of work and thinking about a new career, it’s an opportune time to make a change.

Why Become a Medical Assistant?

Even before the pandemic, the demand for medical assistants was rising. As millions of Baby Boomers retire, there’s a greater need for preventive health care. Doctor’s offices are leading the way in caring for the vulnerable older generation, serving as a gateway through which they can access medical and home services. At the heart of the healthcare team, medical assistants support the medical professionals that make it happen, and without them, the quality of care suffers.

In addition to a sense of accomplishment and the chance to help the community during a global pandemic, a career as a medical assistant has a lot to offer, including a vibrant job market, a steady schedule, professional respect and opportunities for advancement. The pace is brisk, but the work is exciting and personally rewarding.

Career Services for Medical Assistants

Vocational schools excel at helping graduates find jobs, and more are partnering with healthcare institutions to help fill their staffing needs during this critical time. Graduates also benefit from school services, including career counseling and job placement outreach.

Final Thoughts

Covid-19 isn’t the first pandemic our country has faced, and it won’t be the last. But what the medical community is learning from the coronavirus is, the best way to fight public health concerns is with skilled staff, and medical assistants are part of the solution.

Did learning about taking online medical assisting classes to help fight the coronavirus interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate online to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant online and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

Is Dental Assisting a Career?

Dental Assistant

Most professionals have specially trained staff to help their offices run smoothly. Attorneys have paralegals and legal assistants, while physicians have medical assistants. For students interested in a quick-launch career in dentistry, dental assistants are always in demand, and the field is growing. Dental assisting is more than just a job; it’s a rewarding career.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Dental assistants work closely with oral care professionals, performing both clinical and administrative tasks. They’re an integral part of a team helping patients achieve optimal dental health. Their responsibilities may include managing the schedule, greeting patients, restocking supplies, billing, sanitizing tools and equipment, performing or assisting with X-rays, updating medical records, coronal polishing, helping in the lab and offering chairside support.

Managing the Schedule
A well-managed day conserves resources, makes the practice financially productive and improves patient satisfaction by minimizing wait time. With both clinical and administrative know-how, dental assistants know how to make the most of a dentist’s day by scheduling appointments efficiently.

Greeting Patients
Part of a dental assistant’s job is to make patients feel welcomed and comfortable. Seeing a dentist is stressful for some patients, a friendly greeting can put them at ease.

Restocking Supplies
An essential part of dental assisting is restocking supplies. Dental assistants check exam rooms before patients arrive to ensure all the necessary tools and supplies are prepared and readily available.

Billing
From filling out insurance forms and obtaining pre-authorizations to collecting cash payments, dental assistants may take an active role in billing.

Sanitizing Tools and Equipment
Overseeing infection control is a significant part of dental assisting. Tools, equipment, and exam rooms must be carefully disinfected between visits to prevent the spread of disease.

Performing or Assisting with X-rays
Dental assistants are trained in radiography, but each state regulates their scope of practice and the duties they can perform. In some, they can take x-rays, while in others, they may only assist the dentist or hygienist by preparing film and mixing developing solutions.

Updating Medical Records
Keeping concise records is a critical part of dental assisting. Before each visit, dental assistants talk to patients about recent changes in their health, including new allergies to medications, and during treatment they keep a running record of the services provided. Updating this information helps dentists make the safest and most effective treatment decisions.

Coronal Polishing
Only a dentist or hygienist can perform cleanings, but dental assistants can lend a hand by polishing teeth above the gum line. This so-called “coronal” polishing which removes surface stains and is more than just cosmetic. It smooths out tiny imperfections on the surface of teeth that encourage bacteria to cling to them and contribute to decay.

Helping in the Lab
In practices with in-house laboratories, dental assistants can help with tasks such as cleaning dentures, taking impressions and making orthodontic devices.

Offering Chairside Support
Dental assistants provide chairside support for both dentists and patients. They pass instruments, manage rinsing and suction and monitor patients for needs.

What Makes Dental Assisting a Great Career?

A job pays the bills, but a career offers so much more. For anyone with a passion for oral health, dental assisting is a way to share what’s personally meaningful. It’s less of a destination than a journey.

A dental assistant’s most rewarding roles include helping educate patients, making the dentist’s office a friendlier place, and saving smiles.

Helping Educate Patients
Despite a growing emphasis on health education, dental services remain a mystery to many people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018, almost 85 percent of adults saw a doctor while fewer than 65 percent visited a dentist, and what’s worse are studies suggesting the public is unaware of the link between oral and general health.

Dental assistants have many responsibilities, but among the most fulfilling is patient education. They teach about topics such as:

  • Brushing and flossing techniques
  • Dental conditions
  • Nutrition for oral health
  • Denture and appliance care
  • New restoration procedures

Making the Dentist’s Office a Friendlier Place
Many patients say visiting the dentist is as stressful as a divorce, and some claim they avoid it altogether out of fear. But whether it’s due to simple anxiety or all-out dentophobia, just a few missed visits can mean pain and irreversible harm.

As a liaison between dentists and patients, dental assistants are in a unique position to ease the strain of oral care. They’re well-respected for both their clinical knowledge and approachability and as the first person to greet patients upon arrival, their demeanor and professionalism can make or break a patient’s experience.

Saving Smiles
Being afraid to smile because of dental imperfections is no laughing matter. Many adults say having bad teeth impacts their confidence and affects interpersonal relationships. One of a dental assistant’s most gratifying roles is knowing that the work they do not only protects their patients’ general health, but it also makes a difference in their lives in many other tangible ways.

Benefits of a Career in Dental Assisting

Great careers have lasting benefits. Dental assistants enjoy a quick start, a vibrant job market, a steady schedule, and opportunities for professional growth.

A Quick Start
There is a wide range of options for training as a dental assistant, but for students who want to be work-ready as soon as possible, vocational schools offer diploma programs that can be completed in as little as nine months.

A Vibrant Job Market
The need for dental assistants is expected to grow more than 11 percent in the coming decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students graduating today can expect a lively job market with diverse opportunities for years to come.

A Steady Schedule
Select dental clinics are open on weekends, but most dentists continue to work regular Monday through Friday hours. Dental assistants can choose full- or part-time positions and enjoy a regular schedule with minimal nights, weekdays or holidays.

Opportunities for Professional Growth
Dental assisting can be a forever career, but it can also be just one step on the pathway to higher education. On the job, dental assistants learn new things every day that spur professional growth, and many go on to become hygienists.

Final Thoughts

As dentistry becomes more complex, oral care professionals are finding they can’t do it alone. Offering top-quality oral care requires the help of trained support staff, and that makes dental assistants a valuable member of any dental care team.

Did learning about a career as a dental assistant interest you? Still deciding whether you want to become a dental assistant? Ready to learn more about a program that will help you become a dental assistant? The Dental Assistant Program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Dental Assistant, Dental Receptionist, Office Manager or Dental Hygienist Assistant in a dental office, specialty practice, or dental clinic. PCI Health Training Center Richardson, TX Campus offers a dental assistant program. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a dental assistant and start a rewarding career today.



**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

What is a Clinical Medical Assistant?

Clinical Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are typically jacks-of-all-trades. Trained in both clinical and clerical office procedures, they fill in the gaps between the health and business sides of medicine. In today’s large private practices, however, there are also opportunities to specialize in administrative or clinical areas exclusively. For those with an aptitude for science and a love of patient care, being a clinical medical assistant can be a dream come true.

What is a Clinical Medical Assistant?

All medical assistants, by definition, are cross-trained to handle a wide range of duties, but instead of making appointments and filling out insurance forms, clinical medical assistants focus solely on clinical tasks that require skill. Their understanding of the administrative procedures that correlate with clinical tasks only enhances their value to the team.

Where do Clinical Medical Assistants Work?

Clinical medical assistants can work in hospitals, clinics and urgent care centers, but more than 57% percent work in doctor’s offices, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Modern practices are expanding, offering a broad range of services from routine diagnostic tests to minor surgical procedures to meet the changing needs of a growing population. It saves clients a trip to the hospital and lowers the cost of care, but it requires a well-trained clinical staff to make it happen, and medical assistants are at the heart of it.

What Does a Clinical Medical Assistant Do?

Depending on the size and type of practice, a clinical medical assistant’s responsibilities may include preparing exam rooms, updating medical records, taking vital signs, assisting the doctor, phlebotomy, administering medications and immunizations, and patient education.

Preparing Examination Rooms
Clinical medical assistants know which supplies are most often used during exams, and they keep rooms well-stocked, so doctors have everything they need on hand. They make rooms comfortable for patients and their families, and they sanitize equipment before each visit to prevent the spread of infection.

Updating Medical Records
A patient’s medical records should contain all of the information necessary for healthcare providers to make sound treatment decisions. By reviewing medication and allergy lists before every exam, clinical medical assistants ensure records remain up to date while identifying inaccuracies and areas of concern for the physician to address. Catching errors early prevents costly medical mistakes.

Taking Vital Signs
Vital signs are essential measures of patients’ health. A clinical medical assistant takes them at each visit because trends in height, weight, blood pressure and heart rate can signal serious problems. Doctors also use vital signs to monitor the effects of treatment and calculate dosages for high-risk medications.

Assisting with Procedures
Minor surgical procedures can take more than two hands to complete. Clinical medical assistants are ready to help by handing the doctor instruments and collecting biological samples for testing. They also assist with post-procedure follow-up by removing sutures or staples and applying light dressings when necessary.

Phlebotomy
One way large practices are improving patient convenience is by offering on-site laboratory services. But phlebotomy, taking blood samples from a vein with a needle, requires technical expertise. Clinical medical assistants are trained not only to take samples but also to process them and submit them for analysis. In offices with in-house labs, they may also perform select tests and maintain laboratory equipment.

Administering Medications and Immunizations
Administering medications and vaccinations is one way clinical medical assistants support the nursing staff in a physician’s office, allowing them to concentrate on more complex issues. While giving shots seems easy, it’s a relatively complex procedure that includes educating the patient and obtaining consent. Technical know-how is required, as is the basic understanding of pharmacology.

Patient Education
Clients need guidance before, during and after appointments with their physician. With both medical know-how and technical skills, clinical medical assistants are the perfect staff persons to talk to clients about what to expect from their visit. From assisting with gathering specimens to explaining procedures, they help patients stay informed so they can better participate in their care.

Skills for Success for a Clinical Medical Assistant

Medical assistant training programs cover all of the technical skills necessary for success in the workplace but having the right blend of both practical and people skills is a plus for those choosing a clinical role. The list of skills a clinical medical assistant needs for success include compassion, communication, problem solving, and team spirit.

Compassion
Compassion is more than sensitivity toward the suffering of others, it’s the drive to help. At its core, it is what medicine is all about, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the technical aspects of healthcare and forget that people are more than the sum of their physical complaints. Only through compassion can clinical medical assistants work hand in hand with patients to support them through challenges and help them meet their goals.

Communication Skills
Clinical medical assistants serve as liaisons between patients and their doctors, so their demeanor and the professionalism with which they represent the practice can either open or close the doors of communication. Medical assistants working directly with patients should feel comfortable and confident engaging in conversation and building rapport. It’s the foundation of trust.

Problem-solving Ability
A doctor’s office is a fast-paced environment, and the unpredictable happens every day; that’s the nature of healthcare. Clinical medical assistants know that, so they approach small problems proactively and look for solutions to prevent them from escalating. It requires observation, critical thinking and the willingness to ask questions.

Team Spirit
Nothing is more important in healthcare than teamwork. In a doctor’s office, everyone has a specific job to do, but supporting one another is essential for the sake of patients. Working as a team in a large office can be challenging at times because people have different personalities and priorities. Team spirit requires putting aside personal differences to work toward a common goal. It takes effort and mutual respect to build healthy and productive interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

Final Thoughts

Careers in healthcare have many things in common. They’re exciting, meaningful and personally fulfilling, but some aren’t particularly flexible. One of the best parts about being a medical assistant is the ability to choose a focus that makes the most out of one’s talents and preferences. Anyone who enjoys providing the best in hands-on patient care will thrive as a clinical medical assistant.

Did learning about what a clinical medical assistant is interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares the graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.


**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

Are Medical Assistants in High Demand?

Medical Assistants

Job opportunities for medical assistants are expected to grow by a remarkable 23% in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 17% more than other healthcare support positions and 5% greater than total occupation growth nationwide. As the need for medical services expands, so does demand for skilled support professionals. For students interested in a career in healthcare, there’s no better time to become a medical assistant than now.

Why is the Demand for Healthcare Increasing?

The need is growing due to several factors, including an aging population, rising chronic disease rates, and advancements in healthcare.

An Aging Population
Before the 1940s, population growth in the United States was relatively stable. But after World War II, soldiers returned to a thriving economy, and couples took the opportunity to start families. Today, the children born in this era, called the Baby Boomers, are in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. They are now the largest demographic group in the country, 75 million strong, and as they age, they will need more medical care.

Rising Chronic Disease Rates
Chronic disease rates among all age groups are rising exponentially. Care for these illnesses, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, is expected to make up more than 50 percent of increases in healthcare spending through 2025 as such medical conditions require more attention, according to the Peterson Center on Healthcare.

Advancements in Healthcare
Medicine is evolving quickly, and advancements will be the new normal from here on out. Illnesses that were once incurable are now treatable, and innovations are improving quality of life for millions, spurring a rising demand for services and qualified personnel to bring them to the public.

Where Do Medical Assistants Fit in?

When patients have access to quality primary care, outcomes are better both medically and financially. As public health officials and insurers seek ways to improve the quality of medicine while lowering costs, the emphasis on preventive, primary care services is growing. With that, however, comes a staffing crisis.

There are currently millions of boomers working in the medical industry, so every retirement means one fewer healthcare worker. Experts estimate that up to a quarter of the medical workforce could be affected by this supply decline in the next ten years.

The rapid growth of healthcare is forcing the development of new staffing models. The nurses who once supported doctors in their clinical and administrative needs are now accepting greater responsibility, leading to a gap in care. Medical assistants are bridging that gap by tackling tasks that require skilled but not specialized attention.

The utilization of medical assistants in private practice has increased by more than 30% in the last two decades. In a hospital or doctor’s office, their duties may include:

  • Triaging phone calls
  • Managing the schedule
  • Greeting patients
  • Maintaining flow through reception areas
  • Taking vital signs
  • Assisting with examinations
  • Obtaining medical specimens
  • Performing basic lab tests
  • Giving injections
  • Overseeing referrals
  • Ordering supplies and equipment
  • Assisting with billing

With their unique blend of clinical and administrative expertise, medical assistants are the ideal liaisons between clients and their healthcare providers, allowing doctors and nurses to focus on what they do best, healing.

As a medical assistant’s role continues to expand, there are opportunities in many settings. However, because most of the growth in the healthcare industry is occurring at the primary care level, the majority of opportunities for medical assistants are in doctors’ offices and hospitals.

The Benefits of Being a Medical Assistant

A job as a medical assistant offers more than just a paycheck, it’s a rewarding career. Benefits include affordable training, opportunity, flexibility, professional respect, room for advancement, excitement and the opportunity to help others.

Affordable Training
Not everyone who wants to work in healthcare can afford the time or fiscal requirements of a college degree. The good news is that while some medical assistants have an associate’s degree, vocational school training can be completed in as little as 9 months.

Opportunity
Few careers offer as much potential for job growth as medical assisting. But what’s even more important is that unlike some professions that face eventual elimination due to automation, healthcare is a people-first career that will always need a human touch.

Flexibility
Because medical assistants are in such high demand, employers are incentivized to create flexible part-time and full-time positions that attract higher numbers of job applicants. Working in a hospital may require chipping in an occasional weekend or holiday, but positions in private practices typically have family-friendly, Monday through Friday schedules.

Professional Respect
Medical assisting is not a new career, it’s been recognized as an occupation since the mid-1950s, and it has its own professional group, the American Association of Medical Assistants. Providers recognize the importance of the work a medical assistant does and the value of their training.

Room for Advancement
Medical assisting can be a steppingstone to other occupations in the healthcare field, including nursing, but it can also be a forever career. With additional training and experience, medical assistants can move into increasingly more responsible positions or seek specialty certification.

Excitement
Trained in both clinical and clerical procedures, medical assistants are jacks-of-all-trades. Even on average days, their responsibilities vary enough to keep things exciting. No two days in medicine are ever like, so while the setting stays the same, challenges continually evolve.

The Opportunity to Help Others
At least 30% of life is spent at work, so it’s no surprise that when surveyed, working with purpose and for the benefit of others consistently tops the list of what employees want. When staff feels like working for a paycheck is their only goal, motivation, morale and productivity decrease.

In healthcare, even simple tasks such as answering the telephone take on a greater sense of urgency and purpose. For students who want to make a difference in the lives of others, a career as a medical assistant is the perfect place to start.

Final Thoughts

Healthcare is growing at an unprecedented pace, and the demand for medical assistants will only increase. A dynamic and rewarding career with flexibility, stability, and room for professional growth could be less than a year away.

Did learning about the high demand for medical assistants interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares the graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.


**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

The Definitive Guide to Phlebotomy: A Medical Assistant’s Guide

Phlebotomy

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? One of the most important skills a medical assistant can learn is phlebotomy. Phlebotomy, or venipuncture, is the art of drawing blood from a vein with a needle. It’s a highly technical, multi-step skill that requires clinical know-how, good judgment and the ability to make clients feel at ease. Among the wide range of a medical assistant’s responsibilities, venipuncture is among the most essential.

Why is Phlebotomy Important?

Changes in the blood tell a doctor a lot about what’s going on in the body. Samples are used to diagnose and treat diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Thyroid disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lyme disease
  • Liver and kidney disorders
  • Infections

Venipuncture is also used to conduct blood type tests that classify blood into groups based on the presence of surface antibodies is critical for transfusions and self-donation. Blood tests are also used to monitor therapeutic levels of medications, so doctors know if patients are getting enough or too much.

The Medical Assistant’s Role

Venipuncture may be just one part of a medical assistant’s day, but in larger practices or hospitals, phlebotomy can be a full-time job. Either way, the process consists of the same four steps. These steps include reviewing the order, educating the patient, obtaining consent and the actual act of venipuncture.

Reviewing the Order
Venipuncture is only performed with a doctor’s order. Medical assistants don’t decide which tests to do, but they must review orders carefully because each test requires different equipment and procedures.

Venipuncture is only one part of the testing process. Samples must be properly handled and correctly processed. Some tests require additional preparation on the part of the patient, such as fasting or taking a timed dose of medication.

Medical assistants are also responsible for coding requisitions and ensuring that diagnosis codes and tests match. Insurance companies won’t pay for a blood test to check for a broken bone. By evaluating orders, perceptive medical assistants can catch errors before they happen.

Educating the Patient
Clients have a right to know why venipuncture was ordered, how it will be performed, and what the risks are. With a working knowledge of both disease and laboratory procedures, medical assistants can help the doctor by ensuring patients are well informed. For example, because venipuncture breaks the skin, there is always a small risk of infection. Concerned patients will also want to know when to expect results and how they will be delivered.

Obtaining Consent
No medical procedure can be performed without a patient’s consent. Once the order has been checked and the patient understands the risk versus the benefits of testing, medical assistants are responsible for obtaining consent. A responsible parent or legal guardian must approve venipuncture for minors.

Venipuncture
Venipuncture is a standardized technical process. Strict protocols are in place to ensure that blood is drawn correctly every time. The laboratory equipment used to test blood is painstakingly calibrated, so mishandling samples may render them unusable. Technique matters.

Drawing blood is also a stressful event for some patients with trypanophobia or hemophobia, fear of needles or blood. Sound clinical judgment is essential. When patients are at high risk for complications, it’s critical to take every measure possible to minimize the impact.

Tools of the Trade

What type of equipment is used to perform venipuncture? The equipment includes gloves, alcohol pads, needles, tourniquets, vacuum tubes, gauze and bandages.

Gloves
To protect themselves and the patient from blood-borne disease, medical assistants perform venipuncture with gloves on, there are no exceptions.

Alcohol pads
Pre-moistened alcohol or chlorhexidine pads are used to cleanse the skin before inserting a needle. It doesn’t sterilize the area, but it reduces the number of bacteria and helps prevent infection.

Needles
Needles come in all sizes. Diameter is measured in gauge from 14 to 28, the larger the number, the smaller the needle. Based on the size of the patient and the condition of the vein, medical assistants choose the most appropriate size. For children, a 25 G needle is recommended, while a 20 or 22 G is more appropriate for adults.

Length is also important. The medial cubital vein at the crease of the elbow is typically the first choice for venipuncture, but the depth of the vein and the angle of approach may make longer or shorter needles better for the job. Choosing a needle with the optimal diameter and length increases the chances of success on the first attempt.

Tourniquets
A tourniquet helps confine blood to the arm, keeping the vein full and easier to see. It also makes blood vessels less likely to collapse under the pull of a vacuum tube.

Vacuum Tubes
Blood was once drawn with a syringe, but sealed vacuum tubes are now the norm. The strength of the vacuum alone pulls in blood at a pace that won’t damage blood cells. Color-coded tubes come preloaded with the additives necessary for specific tests, so it speeds up the process and reduces errors.

Gauze and Bandages
Since venipuncture pierces a vein, bleeding is to be expected. When the draw is complete, the site is compressed with gauze as pressure stops the bleeding. A small bandage will keep seepage from staining the patient’s clothing.

Skills for Success
There are a few skills that are needed for a successful venipuncture. These skills include empathy, critical thinking, and attention to detail.

Empathy
Venipuncture causes no more pain than a pinch, but for clients who are afraid of needles or blood, it’s scary. Medical assistants need to see the procedure from the patient’s point of view and do whatever it takes to keep patients safe and put them at ease.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to assess facts and come to logical conclusions. Critical thinking is what helps a medical assistant choose the right equipment and venipuncture techniques for individual patients. Better decisions equal better outcomes.

Attention to Detail
Medical errors impact patient health. A misspelled name on a label can lead to mistaken identity and using a tube with the wrong additive may mean a sample is rejected. Mistakes not only require redraws, but they also delay care. Attention to detail for a medical assistant is a must.

Final Thoughts

Because medical assistants are cross trained in both clinical and administrative procedures, they’re the ideal team members to handle phlebotomy in a busy doctor’s office. It’s a demanding responsibility, but one that contributes significantly to quality patient care.

Did learning about phlebotomy interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.


**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

Managing Geriatric Patients: A Medical Assistant’s Guide

The population of people over 65 in the United States is going to continue to grow in the next few decades. That poses a challenge for the healthcare system, but it also creates unique career opportunities for medical assistants. Geriatrics, the care of older adults, is among the fastest up and coming specialties. For anyone interested in working with seniors, it’s the perfect time to get involved.

What is Geriatrics?

Geriatrics is defined as care of the aging, but it’s more than that. While other branches of medicine focus exclusively on curing disease, geriatrics seeks to prevent disability. It’s a critical distinction because as the body grows more fragile, even a minor illness can result in the loss of independence.

Managing medical issues, especially chronic conditions such as dementia and diabetes, is an important part of geriatrics. But it’s only one part of a greater mission, to help seniors remain independent and live life to the fullest.

What are Geriatric Patient Needs

Geriatrics is holistic in nature. It considers the aging adult as a whole person, not a collection of symptoms or complaints. Geriatric practitioners know that senior health depends on a wide range of physical, emotional, social and financial factors. Geriatric medical assistants contribute to patient wellness by helping with all of those things, but it takes a special touch.

Senior patients have challenges that require medical assistants to adjust their techniques. For example, maintaining a neat and comfortable waiting area isn’t enough. Many elderly patients have mobility issues that require adaptive equipment, so spaces must allow for the safe movement of wheelchairs, walkers and canes.

Checking in younger patients is quick, but older adults with sensory or cognitive impairments may need extra attention. From keeping things quiet so seniors can hear, to offering patient education materials in large print, geriatric care involves constant adaptation to the needs of a very diverse patient population.

Where Geriatric Medical Assistants Work

Most geriatric medical assistants work in doctor’s offices. But as geriatricians try to reach the elderly at the community level, medical assisting jobs in alternative settings such as nursing facilities, assisted living centers, senior housing complexes, social work agencies and community centers are growing. Wherever seniors need care, medical assistants are an asset.

Skills for Geriatric Medical Assistants

A medical assistant providing geriatric care will need a few skills to succeed, including sensitivity, compassion, simplicity, awareness, and open-mindedness.

Sensitivity

Seniors are individuals. One patient may need no more assistance than a young adult while another could need help every step of the way. The elderly are sensitive to changes in their level of function. Medical assistants need to walk a fine line between offering help and respecting a client’s independence. It takes finesse and sensitivity.

Compassion

Empathy is the ability to sense suffering, compassion is the willingness to help. The elderly are particularly vulnerable, and they need strong support from medical assistants who are willing to go the extra mile.

Simplicity

Seniors are from a simpler time. Their perspective is different than those who have decades of life ahead of them. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn new things or be attentive to details, but for the elderly, simple information is more actionable.

Awareness

Aging causes both physical and cognitive decline. While some seniors are acutely aware of these changes, others are dangerously less cognizant. Octogenarians may say they take their medications as prescribed, but they may not recognize they have a memory impairment. Medical assistants need to be aware of subtle behaviors that indicate they need to dig further when investigating symptoms.

Open-mindedness

Just because the elderly need assistance doesn’t mean they forfeit their right to self-determination. It’s easy to approach seniors as if they’re children, but they’re not. They’re adults with the right to make their own decisions, even when their choices differ from their doctor’s recommendations.

As a patient, it’s the senior’s goals, whatever they may be, that should drive a therapeutic relationship. Only by being respectful and open-minded can a medical assistant be genuinely supportive of what patients want.

Final Thoughts

Many Americans are fast approaching retirement age, and with that comes a growing need for healthcare, but there’s a shortage of qualified providers. As front-line caregivers, geriatric medical assistants have the right blend of administrative and clinical skills to bridge the gap.

Did learning about managing geriatric patients interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

Medical Assistant vs Medical Office Assistant

Medical Assistant

A healthcare team is only as good as its support specialists. Patients are best served when doctors and nurses have skilled associates working behind the scenes to keep things organized and running smoothly. Among the most essential team members are medical assistants and medical office assistants.

What’s the difference between a medical assistant and a medical office assistant?

The job titles sound similar, and both careers share a comparable history. Medical assisting and office assisting have been recognized as distinct occupations since the 1950s, and today, both have highly regarded professional organizations that set the standards for their specialties.

In many ways, the duties of a medical assistant and a medical office assistant overlap. But in general, a medical office assistant is an exclusively administrative specialist while a medical assistant is cross trained to tackle both clerical and clinical tasks. Each has a vital, but different role.

Medical Office Assistant

Medical office assistants work primarily in doctor’s offices, but their role is expanding to other settings, to include hospitals, outpatient clinics and insurance companies. Where medical professionals need organizational support, medical office assistants are in demand.

As a representative of the healthcare team, they manage a broad range of administrative responsibilities, such as:

  • Answering the phone
  • Overseeing the schedule
  • Greeting patients
  • Managing the reception area
  • Completing insurance forms
  • Aiding with billing
  • Maintaining medical records
  • Transcribing visit notes
  • Performing light accounting
  • Helping with payment inquires
  • Ordering office supplies

A vocational school education offers training in office procedures as well as other courses that emphasize the managerial needs of a healthcare practice. Unlike a medical assistant’s education, medical office assistants receive more training in subjects such as medical coding, billing and insurance. A medical office assistant has the ideal skills to help patients with their non-medical needs.

What skills does a medical office assistant need for success? As the first point of contact between patients and their healthcare team, medical office assistants should be courteous and professional. Clients should feel at ease approaching them with concerns and equally confident that they will handle their needs with care.

As the organizational experts that providers depend upon for productivity, a medical office assistant is called to be a fearless multitasker who is both attentive to detail and aware of the bigger picture.

Medical office assistants are the ambassadors of first impressions and should be:

  • Positive
  • Reliable
  • Flexible
  • Focused
  • Knowledgeable
  • Friendly and courteous

Excellent communication skills, including the ability to read and write confidently, are vital. Comfort with modern technology such as computers and electronic office equipment is a must.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants can handle most of the administrative functions in a hospital or private practice, but their education is less intensive in clerical procedures than clinical training. Medical assistants give doctors and nurses more time to focus on complex patient care by taking on medically important tasks that don’t require their attention. The talents of medical assistants are the perfect match for busy outpatient settings.

Medical office assistants are more likely to be involved in billing, coding and financial activities. While medical assistants tackle assignments that require a degree of clinical expertise such as:

  • Triaging patient symptoms over the phone
  • Managing outside referrals
  • Scheduling patients for diagnostic testing or surgical procedures
  • Ordering medical equipment and supplies

Hands-on clinical duties include:

  • Obtaining height, weight and vital signs
  • Reviewing patients’ medication and allergy lists
  • Helping clients with limited mobility
  • Keeping exam rooms disinfected and well-stocked
  • Giving immunizations
  • Providing first aid
  • Removing stitches or staples
  • Assisting with in-office surgical procedures
  • Sanitizing instruments
  • Drawing blood and collecting urine samples
  • Performing basic lab tests
  • Providing patient education

In small practices, medical assistants tend to be jacks-of-all-trades. Their responsibilities in large, multi-provider practices may have more of a clerical or clinical focus, and their duties will vary significantly based on the type of practice. For example, their role may be more defined in a specialist’s office.

Among the most important skills for medical assistants to possess are flexibility and the ability to communicate confidently. Being able to change gears in a moment, to adapt to shifting responsibilities is essential. No two days are alike on the clinical side of healthcare.

Medical assistants spend more one-on-one time with patients than their purely administrative counterparts. Providing education and hands-on care is a significant part of the job.

To do that, medical assistants should be:

  • Empathetic
  • Compassionate
  • Approachable
  • Versatile
  • Dependable
  • Sensitive
  • Open-minded and discrete

Like doctors and nurses, ongoing education is a must for medical assistants. The medical field is continually changing, so a love of learning and the willingness to take on new challenges is vital.

Career Growth Opportunities

For students interested in healthcare, both medical assisting and medical office assisting are rewarding career choices. Medical assistants have more diverse training, so it seems like they have more opportunities, but both fields of study have similar potential. Medical office assisting is simply more focused.

Graduates of either program are employment-ready, but obtaining voluntary certification demonstrates commitment and can lead to professional growth. Graduating from a vocational school program is just the beginning of a long and rewarding career.

With experience and a diploma, a medical office assistant can qualify to become a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA). This credential can help the right candidates grow into supervisory or office management positions.

Students graduating from an accredited medical assisting program qualify for certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants. Certification is especially valuable for medical assistants because major insurers require it for tasks like entering doctor’s orders into electronic health records. It not only makes a job applicant more valuable, but it also opens the door to more responsible roles.

Final Thoughts

Healthcare occupations are among the most diverse and fastest growing in the country. And the best part is, there’s room for people with both clinical and administrative aptitude. With the right training, a new career as a respected medical support specialist is right around the corner.

Did learning about medical assistants and medical office assistants interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.



Want to become a medical office assistant? The Medical Office Assistant program is designed to prepare a graduate to work as an entry-level medical front office assistant, receptionist, insurance biller, insurance collector, appointment scheduler, medical secretary, or medical records clerk in health care centers, clinics, hospitals, ambulatory care centers and medical billing offices. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical office assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

What Can I Do with a Medical Office Assistant Diploma?

Doctors and nurses can heal the sick, but they can’t do it alone. Someone has to do the broad range of administrative tasks that are a necessary part of every patient encounter. Who are these versatile support specialists? They’re medical office assistants, and they’re in demand. The good news is that with a few months of training and a diploma, anyone can be prepared to fill this vital role.

What Does a Medical Office Assistant Do?

Medical office assistants are part of a caring team of healthcare professionals committed to giving patients the best care possible. While doctors and nurses focus on the clinical aspects of medicine, medical office assistants are the logistical superstars that keep things running smoothly behind the scenes.

Their responsibilities include handling office communication, scheduling appointments, maintaining the reception area, managing medical records, general accounting, and ordering office supplies and equipment.

Handling Office Communication

When a patient calls a healthcare provider, they depend on the person answering the telephone to handle their needs. Whether they call to schedule a visit or to report worrisome symptoms, patients want to hear a confident, knowledgeable voice on the other end of the line.

Diploma programs give medical office assistants the background they need in healthcare terminology and office procedures, so graduates are prepared and ready to help.

Scheduling Appointments

Medical office assistants are responsible for scheduling patient visits, but there’s much more to it than filling in empty time slots. In a large practice, a medical office assistant might have to juggle several schedules as well as manage equipment and personnel needs for dozens of visits per day.

Practice management software makes the job easier, but skills learned in a diploma program help a medical office assistant troubleshoot issues and keep the clinical staff’s day on track.

Maintaining the Reception Area

Medical office assistants are the ambassadors of first impressions. The skill with which they greet clients and make the reception area comfortable reflect upon the whole team.

Greeting patients when they arrive, updating their medical records and handling inquiries are important parts of the job that require a friendly, approachable demeanor. Professionalism is expected.

Managing Medical Records

Few things matter as much to the delivery of quality healthcare as accurate medical records. Errors in demographic and insurance information can delay needed care and contribute to medical errors, so focus and attention to detail are critical.

As part of their duties, medical office assistants update patient data at each visit. They also manage the flow of sensitive health information between doctors and patients, as well as referring providers. As part of a diploma program, students learn how to manage electronic health records while maintaining confidentially. Integrity is a must.

General Accounting

In a hospital or large private practice, billing specialists are typically responsible for completing insurance claims and determining the amount owed for services rendered. But as the point of first and last contact during a visit, the medical office assistant may be asked to collect copayments and review accounts for unpaid balances while the patient is present. In a smaller setting, they may be more involved in the complete billing process.

Ordering Office Supplies and Equipment

Equipment and office supplies are a large part of a practice’s operating budget, so they need to be carefully managed. Because medical office assistants know what each department needs, they are often responsible for doing the ordering, in addition to evaluating vendors and negotiating lower costs.

Other duties may include:

  • Transcribing doctor’s notes
  • Completing insurance forms
  • Helping with marketing and patient education
  • Assisting with human resources and more

 
Where Do Medical Office Assistants Work?

Most medical office assistants work in doctor’s offices, but their skills are also a perfect match for hospitals and clinics. As part of a training program, a medical office assistant receives general education in a broad range of topics, making them valuable in virtually any healthcare setting.

Hospitals and Clinics

In a hospital, a medical office assistant is most likely to work in one specific department and be engaged in a focused task. An assistant in medical records might spend the day helping doctors and patients find documentation related to past visits, while someone working in the financial office may field patient inquiries or work side by side with billing specialists. With a diploma and experience, medical office assistants working in hospitals may grow into supervisory roles.

Doctor’s Offices

A medical office assistant employed in a private practice is more likely to be a jack-of-all-trades. In a large practice, they might start exclusively in a front- or back-office position. But in a small practice, they may be involved in nearly every operation, from answering the phone to working on financial reports.

Medical office assistants who enjoy wearing many hats excel in doctors’ offices where they have exposure to the many aspects of office management. With education and on the job experience, they can become office managers.

How Important is a Diploma?

Healthcare is a complex industry, and positions carry significant personal responsibility. As medical professionals, employers are ultimately liable for the performance of their office staff, so they prefer to hire trained applicants with proven skills whenever possible. A diploma opens the door to a wider range of opportunity.

Final Thoughts

Anywhere medical professionals work, knowledgeable office support specialists are needed. In less than a year, students in a medical office assistant training program can receive their diplomas and be on their way to an exciting career in healthcare. Success is just around the corner, so why wait?

Did you enjoy reading about managing the front office of a medical facility or doctor’s office? Want to become a medical office assistant? The Medical Office Assistant Program is designed to prepare a graduate to work as an entry-level medical front office assistant, receptionist, insurance biller, insurance collector, appointment scheduler, medical secretary, or medical records clerk in health care centers, clinics, hospitals, ambulatory care centers and medical billing offices. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical office assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.