Importance of Medical Office Assistants During This Health Crisis

Medical Assistants

Emergencies bring out the best in people, and nowhere is that more evident than in the healthcare field. Essential medical workers across the country are coming together to support their communities during this public health crisis, and the good news is that it’s working. COVID-19 is under control, but it continues to be a long-term threat, and the shortage of healthcare professionals looms large. For students interested in a career in medicine, now is the time to join those on the front line as medical office assistants.

The Importance of Essential Workers

Essential workers perform the services necessary to protect property and human life during a pandemic, examples include firefighters, transportation employees, food manufacturers and physicians. But in medicine, administrative responsibilities are an integral part of care, so medical office assistants are as essential as doctors and nurses.

Why are Medical Office Assistants Important During a Health Crisis?

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, patients with respiratory symptoms are being asked to avoid emergency rooms, so doctor’s offices are busier than ever. There’s so much to do.

A medical office assistant tackles a full range of administrative duties in a healthcare setting. They have no clinical responsibilities, but by handling the clerical responsibilities that are an essential part of every visit, they allow doctors and nurses to see more patients. At a time when demand for care has skyrocketed, it’s a crucial role.

Primary responsibilities of medical office assistants include scheduling appointments, overseeing the waiting area, checking in patients, managing medical records, bills and accounting, and ordering office supplies.

Scheduling Appointments

Medical office assistants are responsible for answering phone calls and making appointments. In a busy practice, they manage clinical schedules and equipment needs for hundreds of visits daily. During a pandemic, scheduling is even more challenging as frequent emergencies arise.

Overseeing the Waiting Area

As ambassadors of first impressions, medical office assistants oversee waiting areas, making sure they’re clean and safe for vulnerable patients as they arrive. They make the most of waiting time by being hospitable, answering questions and assisting with pre-visit paperwork.

Checking in Patients

A medical office assistant ensures patients have the best experience possible by verifying personal and insurance information at check-in. Mistakes in healthcare records can lead to dangerous medical errors, while inaccuracies on insurance forms can result in rejected claims or an unexpected bill for the insured when they can least afford it.

Managing Medical Records

Medical office assistants update electronic health records before each visit. They manage the flow of confidential medical data between patients and doctors as well as referring physicians. Integrity and attention to detail are a must.

Billing and Accounting

Billing specialists are responsible for filling out insurance forms, but claims are only as sound as the information in them. Medical office assistants play an important part in the billing process by clarifying demographic information and insurance policy numbers before patients see the doctor. They may also review accounts and collect copayments before the exam. Light accounting tasks include reconciling cash drawers and credit card receipts.

Ordering Office Supplies

The pace in a doctor’s office is brisk during a pandemic, so a well-stocked supply closet is critical. Medical office assistants are responsible for ordering supplies practice-wide, working with both staff and vendors to guarantee needed items are on hand.

Depending on the size and type of practice, medical office assistants may have other duties, such as:

  • Completing insurance forms
  • Transcription
  • Correspondence
  • Filing
  • Marketing
  • Assisting with financial reports
  • Patient outreach

As clients’ first point of contact with their provider, a medical office assistant is a vital source of support and information. The medical office assistant’s warm and welcoming demeanor inspires patients’ confidence in their care and preserves the practice’s reputation.

Training to Be a Medical Office Assistant

Training to become a medical office assistant is easy. Students attending a vocational school program full-time can be out of the classroom and earning money in just six months. It’s a future-looking career choice for this year’s high school graduates or unemployed adults looking for a new career path. Flexible learning options may be available, and most institutions offer assistance with job placement after graduation.

Employers are now hiring to meet the extreme demand caused by COVID-19. And even prior to the pandemic, positions for medical office assistants were already expected to soar by nearly 23-percent in the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As millions more Americans reach age 65, the need for accessible preventive care is skyrocketing. So unlike training for jobs that are slowly disappearing due to advances in technology, the skills learned in a medical office assisting program will remain relevant.

Why Get a Medical Office Assistant Diploma?

Having a vocational school diploma demonstrates a student has the knowledge and practical skills necessary for success in an entry-level position. It’s everything an employer needs to feel confident hiring an applicant, as well as a firm foundation students will want to build a better lifelong career. Graduates are qualified to sit for one of several exams leading to nationally recognized credentials.

While most of the 601,700 medical office assistants on payrolls today are employed in private practices, roles for medical office assistants are continually expanding to hospitals, clinics and more. The job market is thriving.

Final Thoughts

The shortage of essential healthcare workers during this public health crisis is serving as a valuable wake up call. The country should never be caught short-handed. The community’s best defense against shifting demographics and the next pandemic is plenty of skilled support staff, such as medical office assistants. For students, it’s both a mission and an opportunity.

Are you ready to pitch in and help during this health crisis? Want to become a medical office assistant? The Medical Office Assistant Program is designed to prepare graduates 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.

Are Medical Office Assistants in Demand?

Medical Assistants

Medical professionals are today’s new heroes, they answer the call when their communities are in need. But for every doctor and nurse on the front lines during this public health crisis, there are support specialists who manage the administrative intricacies of healthcare, giving licensed providers more time to spend with patients. Who are these behind the scenes champions? They’re medical office assistants, and they’re in higher demand than ever.

What Does a Medical Office Assistant Do?

Medical office assistants work with a team of medical professionals committed to top-quality patient care. As the business part of medicine becomes more complex, they fill a unique role.

By handling the full spectrum of clerical tasks that are a fundamental part of every healthcare visit, they allow physicians and nurses to better focus on their clinical duties. It’s a vital non-clinical role that quickens care and makes it safer and more efficient.

A medical office assistant’s responsibilities may include:

  • Managing the switchboard
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Providing general information
  • Overseeing the reception area
  • Checking in patients
  • Transcribing doctor’s notes
  • Maintaining medical records
  • Filling out insurance claims
  • Light Coding and billing
  • Light bookkeeping
  • Ordering supplies

Why are Medical Office Assistants in Such High Demand?

The demand for medical office assistants isn’t new, it was rising well before the pandemic. With thousands of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age daily, the need for preventive healthcare services is increasing.

Doctor’s offices are leading the way in providing care for vulnerable seniors as they age, serving as portals through which they can access a variety of community services, but they can’t do it alone. Medical facilities need highly qualified support staff to expand their services and make them more accessible to the public.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for medical office assistants is expected to rise more than 16-percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than other occupations on average. The current shortage is an issue the pandemic underscores.

While medical workers are always essential, they’re indispensable in a healthcare emergency. In some industries, professionals can work during a pandemic while allowing office functions, such as billing, to slide, but not in healthcare. Documentation and care are linked. What occurs in the front office is as important as what happens in the exam room.

When a patient sees their doctor, it’s just a single event in a bigger picture. Verifying details from demographics to insurance policy numbers is a must, safe continuity of care and timely insurance reimbursement depend on it. In a pandemic, public health departments rely on accurate patient data and properly coded insurance forms for data about disease trends. Without a medical office assistant to take on these responsibilities, vital details could easily be lost, and ultimately, patients would suffer.

Why Consider a Career as a Medical Office Assistant?

There are many ways to help the public during a crisis, but for students considering a career in healthcare, there’s no better time to seek training as a medical office assistant than now.

Getting a vocational school education is quick and cost-effective. Students attending full-time can be done and ready to earn in as little as six months. Programs give students the knowledge and skills they need to qualify for entry-level positions. Courses cover general office management, computerized records applications, and insurance billing. Although medical office assistants have no clinical responsibilities, training in medical terminology, law and ethics helps prepare students to function confidently in a busy healthcare environment.

After graduation, most medical office assistants work in private practices, but roles are expanding to hospitals and clinics. Graduates can help the country through tough times while nurturing a career in a respected field with opportunities, flexible schedules and room for advancement.

The job is fast-paced and never boring, there’s always something new and exciting to learn, and it’s personally fulfilling. A medical office assistant makes a difference in the lives of the people they serve. There are few professions requiring so little training that have as much potential.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a new career path isn’t easy. Students are taking a risk with their time and money, so it’s essential to evaluate the options and consider which occupations will remain relevant in the future. The good news for medical office assistants is that while the country won’t always be in the grip of a pandemic, healthcare workers will forever be essential.

Did reading about the demand for medical office assistants interest you? Ready 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.

8 Reasons to Attend a Dental Assistant Program

Medical Assistants

Career opportunities in dentistry are growing as researchers learn more about the importance of oral health, but becoming a dentist may take eight long years in college, something not everyone can afford. The good news is, for students who are interested in dentistry but don’t want to spend years in dental school, there are eight good reasons to attend a vocational school dental assisting program.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Dental assistants are flexible support professionals who manage a wide range of clinical and administrative duties in a dental practice. They work side by side with dentists and hygienists to give patients the best oral care possible.

Their responsibilities may include:

  • Greeting patients
  • Obtaining service pre-authorizations
  • Maintaining dental records
  • Assisting with x-rays
  • Performing fluoride treatments and coronal polishing
  • Helping in the lab
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Ordering supplies
  • Educating patients about dental health
  • Assisting the dentist at chairside

Why Attend a Dental Assisting Program?

A job pays the bills, but a career should mean more. Dental assistants enjoy a quick start, a vibrant job market, a fulfilling work/life balance, making a difference, working with technology, never being bored, collaborating with dedicated colleagues, and opportunities for professional growth.

Reason #1: A Quick Start

Dental assisting students, by attending a vocational school program full-time, can be out of school and start earning money in as little as nine months. Career advisors assist students with job placement after graduation. Many institutions work with dental practices in the community to help meet their staffing needs. The training is an excellent value.

Reason #2: A Vibrant Job Market

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for dental assistants is anticipated to grow by 11 percent through 2028, much faster than the 5-percent average growth rate for all occupations combined.

At a time when jobs are being lost to technology, Dental Assisting can be a secure career with plenty of opportunities. The skills learned in a dental assistant program may last a lifetime.

Reason #3: A Fulfilling Work/Life Balance

Almost everyone believes work/life balance is a problem in the U.S. Being at the office instead of at home in the evening, on weekends and holidays takes a toll on an employee’s personal and family life. Work/life balance is a leading cause of professional burnout.

But most dentists have regular Monday through Friday office hours. Emergencies and unexpected overtime are rare, so dental assistants can depend on a consistent schedule to plan their lives around. It’s a viable career for working parents struggling with childcare or adult children caring for aging seniors.

Reason #4: Making a Difference

Medical researchers know a secret that most of the public doesn’t; regular oral care is critical to good health. Studies show that excessive bacteria in the mouth contribute to body-wide inflammation, and gingivitis has been linked to a broad range of chronic conditions from diabetes and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders.

Yet while the majority of adults see a doctor annually, only half see a dentist as often. Why? Americans say they avoid the dentist because of anxiety, most of which is due to misinformation or bad experiences from a time when dentistry was less advanced.

Dental assistants not only play an important practical role in an oral care practice, but as ambassadors for the profession, they also help educate patients of all ages about the benefits of dentistry. Few occupations that require only nine months of training are this impactful. Dental assistants make a difference.

Reason #5: Working with Technology

Dental assisting is a technology-driven field. Students learn on the latest equipment, and graduates are among the first to try cutting-edge advancements. As in medicine, dental technology evolves almost daily. In the last two decades, oral care professionals have gone from extracting bad teeth to restoring them, and edentulous patients are no longer limited to dentures. Instead, they can have implants that look, feel and function like natural teeth. It’s an inspiring time to work in the dental field.

Reason #6: Never Being Bored

A dental practice is a busy place, the pace is brisk. Dental assistants are cross-trained for both administrative and clinical duties so the work may not be dull. One minute, they’re troubleshooting a patient’s concerns over the telephone, and the next, they’re helping the dentist with a filling.

People who like a regular schedule, but a variable routine will appreciate dental assisting, it’s exciting. The day is somewhat predictable, but there are enough unique challenges to keep things interesting, and there’s always something new to learn. As a field, dentistry never gets stale.

Reason #7: Collaborating with Dedicated Colleagues

A dental assistant never feels alone on the job. They’re part of a caring, dedicated team of professionals with a unified mission, to give patients the best care possible. Individuals retain a sense of ownership over their work, and they can feel pride in their accomplishments, but everyone works together. Learning is mutual, and team members feel valued for the different perspectives they bring to the table. The environment is supportive.

Workplace surveys suggest that a sense of teamwork inspires creativity among staff and improves overall job satisfaction. It’s one more aspect of being a dental assistant that makes it less of a job and more of a career.

Reason #8: Opportunities for Professional Growth

Dental assisting is a centuries-old occupation dating as far back as 1885, but it has come a long way. Today, the American Dental Assistants Organization, a group committed to furthering the occupation through continuing education helps advance the professional status and public perception of dental assistants. Graduating from a dental assistant program is no longer just the beginning.

Being a dental assistant can be a rewarding lifelong career or a stepping-stone to a position with greater responsibility. With a few years on the job, dental assistants can become supervisors or managers. Or they can choose to further their education to become dental hygienists. The sky is the limit.

Final Thoughts

Going to school is a big step, so for students who want to take charge of their future, it’s essential to ask the right questions before applying. Is the job market sound? Is there an opportunity to grow professionally? Will the skills I learn now still be relevant in another decade? With so many promising career options to choose from, why should students choose to attend a dental assisting program? Because the answer to all those questions is a resounding yes.

Want to start a career that is in demand? Deciding whether you want to 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.

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.