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.

11 Important Skills for a Successful Medical Office Assistant

Behind every well-organized healthcare practice is a medical office assistant. These superstar support specialists keep things running smoothly by tackling the many administrative tasks that are an important part of every patient visit. Students interested in a rewarding career in healthcare can train to become a medical office assistant in as little as 6 months. During schooling, externships and on the job, the students will build the right blend of practical and soft skills to be successful as a medical office assistant.

Skill #1: Computer Savvy

Computers have revolutionized healthcare. Today’s modern practices use advanced software for storing medical records and submitting insurance claims. A medical office assistant will use a computer to manage most tasks throughout the day as well as typical office equipment like business calculators, copiers, fax machines and multi-line phone systems. Vocational school training programs cover practice management software and improving basic keyboard skills as being comfortable using computers is a must.

Skill #2: Good Communication

Medical office assistants are a client’s primary point of contact with their physician, so having good communication skills is essential. From fielding telephone calls and scheduling appointments to checking patients in and out, a medical office assistant is usually the first and last person a patient talks to when they visit.

As a representative of the entire healthcare team, a medical office assistant must be knowledgeable, friendly and approachable. They should be able to express their thoughts confidently both verbally and in writing. Professionalism is vital.

Skill #3: Organizational Knowledge

Medical offices are fast-paced environments, and support staff should be able to multitask without losing focus. A medical office assistant manages a broad range of administrative responsibilities that are similar from day to day, but they also need to shift gears quickly when emergencies arise. It’s not always easy, but possessing good organizational skills prevent difficult situations from becoming overwhelming.

Skill #4: Compassion

Being compassionate means having a genuine sensitivity to the needs of others. Every day, medical office assistants work with physically and emotionally vulnerable people from a variety of ages and backgrounds. Since a client’s well-being is the focus of everything they do, a deep sense of compassion and a desire to assist those in need is necessary to keep things in perspective.

Skill #5: Personal Accountability

Few fields demand as much personal accountability as healthcare. Standards for behavior are high, and reliability and trustworthiness are expected. A clear sense of responsibility helps a medical office assistant work through professional challenges, and it supports decision-making that is in the best interest of clients. Practicing first-class medicine requires thoughtful team members who are accountable for their own actions and their consequences.

Skill #6: Confidentiality

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, regulates who can access a patient’s medical record, and it restricts the disclosure of data without informed consent. A large part of a medical office assistant’s job is to safeguard medical records by following security protocols and handling sensitive information with care. Details can’t be shared with colleagues who aren’t involved in the case, and they can’t be discussed with family or friends. HIPAA violations can result in financial penalties for employers and termination for staff.

Skill #7: Attention to Detail

Medical office assistants don’t make life and death clinical decisions, but even minor mistakes in healthcare can have serious effects. A misspelled name, an incorrect date of birth or an outdated insurance number can cause mistaken identity, claims denials and lengthy delays in care. Accuracy and attention to detail prevent problems that slow down everyone’s day. In medicine, they’re indispensable skills.

Skill #8: Problem-Solving

Medical office assistants are problem solvers at heart. They understand there is much at stake in healthcare, so when difficult or unexpected situations occur, they approach them proactively. Problem-solving is a meticulous, multi-step process. A medical office assistant needs a combination of technical expertise and the willingness to research issues and analyze facts to bring solutions to the table. A lot can go wrong in a day, and the ability to solve problems in the front office can keep the whole team’s day on track.

Skill #9: Team Spirit

Providing quality healthcare is always a team effort. In a medical setting, everyone from physicians to the cleaning crew has a meaningful job to do, and results are best when everyone does their part. It can be challenging in an office setting full of different personalities. It sometimes requires setting aside self-interest to develop good interpersonal relationships with both colleagues and patients.

Skill #10: A Commitment to Learning

Medicine is always evolving, and it never sits on its laurels. It continually seeks ways to improve, and it’s expected that everyone involved will do the same. For a medical office assistant, graduating from a vocational school program is just the first step on a lifelong path of learning.

Skill #11: A Positive Attitude

Patients and colleagues appreciate working with team members who are appropriately sober, yet relaxed and fun-loving. A positive attitude helps patients relax, and it reduces workplace stress among colleagues. Providing top-quality care is a serious mission, but sometimes, a smile and a little laughter are the best medicine.

If the list of skills a medical office assistant needs to be successful sounds intimidating, it shouldn’t be. It’s always important for students considering their career options to do some soul-searching and consider which skills and qualities enhance their chance of success on any given path. But while a fortunate few have what it takes right out of the gate to be a medical office assistant, both practical and soft skills can be learned.

Did learning about the important skills for a successful medical office assistant interest you? 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.

What are the Different Medical Assistant Specialties?

 
Medical assistants are the master support specialists that healthcare providers count on to keep their practices running efficiently. Cross-trained in administrative, clinical and technical tasks, most have a diverse range of responsibilities. From answering the telephone and managing the schedule to working in the lab and providing direct patient care, wherever doctors and nurses are, medical assistants are there to help. But as healthcare becomes more complex, there are more opportunities than ever before for medical assistants to work in select areas of interest. These are some of the most popular specialties.

Specialty #1: Medical Administrative Office Assistant
 
Doctors want patients who are visiting their practices to have frustration-free experiences, but between the office and the exam room lies an obstacle course of administrative issues that can throw even the most carefully planned appointments off track.

With their unique blend of clerical expertise and knowledge of clinical applications, medical office administrative assistants guide clients through the delicate maze of schedules, information updates, insurance matters and more, making what could be a difficult process stress free. By keeping things running smoothly, they boost providers’ productivity and enhance patient satisfaction. Responsibilities may include:

  • Managing the schedule
  • Triaging telephone calls
  • Checking in patients
  • Updating medical records
  • Maintaining charts
  • Assisting with billing and insurance inquires
  • Forwarding referrals
  • Scheduling patients for off-site diagnostic tests
  • Ordering supplies
  • Accepting payments

 
Most medical administrative office assistants work in doctors’ offices under the supervision of an administrator, but jobs are also available at hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies.

Positions require a combination of both clerical and interpersonal skills, plus an understanding of medical terminology and the basics of clinical practice. Comfort with computers and medical records management software is a plus, and the ability to multitask is essential.

Customer service skills are especially valuable when working with patients from different backgrounds. Often the first person a visiting patient sees, when medical assistants greet patients with warmth and professionalism they build a patient’s confidence in the entire healthcare team.

Specialty #2: Clinical Medical Assistant

All medical assistants can handle administrative functions, but some focus more on providing patient care. Once clients are checked in, a clinical medical assistant prepares them to be seen by the physician. What a clinical medical assistant can do is defined in part by state law so responsibilities will vary, but the role typically encompasses tasks such as:

  • Reviewing medical history
  • Updating medication and allergy lists
  • Noting current complaints
  • Taking vital signs
  • Performing routine diagnostic tests
  • Sanitizing exam rooms
  • Helping clients with limited mobility
  • Assisting with minor surgery
  • Removing sutures or staples
  • Administering medications and vaccines
  • Educating patients about upcoming procedures and other medical needs

 
As the liaison between clients and licensed healthcare providers, clinical medical assistants must be thoughtful and compassionate. The way they handle a client’s therapeutic needs reflects on the entire practice, so a gentle demeanor and a professional attitude are a must. Clinical medical assistants don’t diagnose or treat illness, but everything they do is in support of those roles so attention to detail is essential.

Additional clinical specialties for medical assistants include geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiology, urology, and women’s health. The possibilities are limited only by interest.

Specialty #3: Technical Medical Assistants

In addition to training in clinical and administrative tasks, medical assistants also learn to perform technical tasks including:

  • Sterilizing instruments
  • Basic Maintaining of lab equipment
  • Collecting specimens suc as blood or urine
  • Performing laboratory and diagnostic tests
  • Monitoring quality control

 
Some of these responsibilities are part of a clinical medical assistant’s role in smaller settings, but as private practices grow larger, dedicated technical support specialties are evolving.

Once done exclusively in hospitals, minor surgical procedures and routine diagnostics are now performed in doctor’s offices. While it’s easier for patients to have services delivered at a single site, the rules surrounding the care and maintenance of equipment don’t change. Proper sanitation and safety of medical gear are paramount, and the same level of expertise is required to perform procedures regardless of the setting.

A medical assistant’s duties may vary depending on the specialty of the practice. A medical assistant working in a dermatology practice, for example, may focus on clinical proecdures which may include instrument sterilization. In a cardiology practice, a medical assistant may focus on performing electrocardiograms.

Technical specialties are perfect opportunities for those who enjoy science or who prefer to master one task rather than be a jack-of-all-trades. Math, reading and time management skills contribute to the success of this type of position.

Specialty #4: Phlebotomist

A phlebotomist draws blood samples, but there’s much more to the job than that. The results of blood tests are a large part of how physicians diagnose illness and make treatment decisions, so using appropriate techniques when obtaining and handling samples is critical. As part of the role, medical assistants working as phlebotomists are expected to:

  • Understand the basics of test methodology
  • Properly identify patients and ask screening questions when necessary
  • Accurately label specimen containers
  • Sanitize equipment and maintain strict infection control procedures
  • Educate and patients about the blood drawing process and ensure their comfort
  • Properly process, preserve and ship samples

 
Because phlebotomist work with patients of all ages, including children, they must be proficient in a variety of ways to take samples and minimize complications.

As part of a medical assistant program, students learn how to perform venipuncture and process the samples they obtain. A well-rounded education that includes training in clerical and clinical procedures makes medical assistants more attractive job candidates to potential employers.

What skills benefit a phlebotomist? Attention to detail and critical thinking skills matter foremost. Using an improper technique can render samples unusable and delay care, while making simple errors in labeling can lead to significant medical mistakes. While performing phlebotomy the medical assistant may encounter complications and therefore must be prepared to manage them.

Medical assistants can work as phlebotomists in doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals. Seeking additional training as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician improves venipuncture skills, and when combined with existing training, it opens up positions requiring greater responsibility.

With their ideal blend of organizational, technical and interpersonal skills, medical assistants are in demand. For students who have an aptitude or desire to work in a select part of the field, specialties are growing quickly. Choose a position with stable responsibilities or opt for one that changes daily. The best part of a career as a medical assistant is that it can offer both consistency and flexibility.

Did learning about the different medical assistant specialties 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.

Is it Easy to Become a Dental Assistant?

 
Dental assistants are in demand, and opportunities are expanding. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for dental assistants are expected to grow by 19% from 2016 to 2026 as the growing population of Baby Boomers learns more about the value of oral health. What exactly does a dental assistant do, and what kind of training is required? It’s easy to get started. Here’s a closer look.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Dental assistants are versatile support professionals. They work closely with dentists and dental hygienists, performing a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks. The role is regulated, in part, by state rules. Responsibilities will vary according to location, but administrative duties typically include scheduling appointments, welcoming patients, ordering supplies, filling out insurance forms, caring for tools and dental equipment,  updating medical records, preparing treatment rooms, taking blood pressure, performing or assisting with X-rays, assisting in the lab, providing chairside support, and educating patients.

Scheduling Appointments

With an understanding of the clinical aspects of dentistry, a dental assistant is the perfect staff person to schedule complex procedures.

Welcoming Patients

Visits to the dentist can be stressful for some patients. A dental assistant has the right blend of clerical and clinic know-how to answer questions confidently and make patients feel more comfortable.

Ordering Supplies

Depending on the size of the practice, a dental assistant may work in an office, a laboratory, a treatment room, or all three. Because of their familiarity with each department’s specific needs, they are often responsible for ordering the supplies for an entire practice.

Filling Out Insurance Forms

Most insurance forms require at least some clinical expertise to fill out appropriately. Dental assistants help to ensure that claims are correct and complete before submission, and they may also have a role in billing.

Caring for Tools and Dental Equipment

Dental assistants sanitize all tools for patient safety. They clean, test and keep detailed maintenance logs on both routine and emergency dental equipment.

Updating Medical Records

Dental procedures can be complicated, and the emphasis is always on safety first. Before any exam, dental assistants review changes in medical history with patients, update allergy and medication lists, as well as document new diagnoses, symptoms and specific concerns.

Preparing Treatment Rooms

A well-prepared treatment room saves both the dentist’s and the patient’s time. Before a client arrives, a dental assistant arranges the tools and medications necessary for the visit and then cleans and restocks rooms between each patient visit.

Taking Blood Pressure

The dentist uses blood pressure readings to choose the best local anesthetic for procedures such as fillings. Dental assistants are responsible for taking the measurement and informing the dentist of any irregularities.

Performing or Assisting with X-rays

Dental assistants are trained to take and develop X-rays, but in some states, this role is limited by regulation. Certification in radiological safety may be required.

Assisting in the Lab

In clinics with a lab, a dental assistant may clean and polish removable appliances like dentures and bridges. They can also assist with making impressions and orthodontic appliances, such as retainers.

Providing Chairside Support

Dentists and hygienists rarely perform procedures alone. Dental assistants serve as an extra pair of skilled hands by assisting during treatments, passing the necessary tools and equipment, documenting data for the dentist and in some cases, monitoring anesthesia.

Educating Patients

A large part of a dental assistant’s job is to help educate patients. From reviewing basic dental care techniques and pre/post procedure instructions to explaining the role of smoking and nutrition in oral health, a dental assistant is often a patient’s go-to source for information both over the phone and at the office.

How to Become a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants have a significant degree of responsibility, and employers prefer to hire trained assistants with proven skills. The good news is that in as little as nine months, students can graduate from a vocational school and be employment ready.

All that is needed to enroll in a program is a high-school diploma or equivalent plus CPR certification. What do dental assistants learn in school? Training programs include classes in:

  • Dental terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Business office procedures
  • Dental practice management software
  • Customer service techniques
  • Basics of dental care
  • Laboratory procedures
  • Infection control and equipment maintenance
  • X-ray techniques
  • Hands-on dental assisting
  • Emergency management

 
In addition to time in the classroom, students also learn off-site, working side-by-side with veteran dental assistants during supervised clinical experiences.

Graduating qualifies students for entry-level jobs, and in most cases, to take one of five optional certification exams offered by the Dental Assisting National Board. Where certification isn’t required, pursuing it demonstrates both skill and commitment, and it can help new dental assistants qualify for more advanced positions.

Many vocational schools have a Career Services department.  These departments often assist with writing resumes and provide access to school job boards. They may also partner with local oral care professionals to ensure that the training they offer is meeting the needs of local employers.

Becoming a dental assistant is among the fastest and easiest ways to launch a rewarding career in healthcare. In as little as nine months, students may be out of the classroom and ready to become a dental assistant. Opportunities are waiting, so why not get started today?

Did learning about how easy it is to become 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.

How to Become a Medical Assistant

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? Want to know how to become a medical assistant? Becoming a successful medical assistant involves getting an education from an accredited vocational school that offers on-campus training programs. You should also possess certain personal qualities. These can be learned along your path to becoming a medical assistant.

Why become a medical assistant? Medical assisting is one of the top 20 fastest growing occupations in the United States. Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 29 percent between the years 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re interested in entering the medical field without spending more than one year in school, and you’re service-oriented and flexible, this career path is a good fit.

Educational Requirements

Medical assistants typically need to complete a vocational program. Completing an official vocational program can have many benefits, one of them being that you’ll receive certification that proves you’ve gone through an accredited training course.

Usually, the program will include laboratory and classroom training. There may also be an externship assignment in which you get clinical and clerical experience by doing a certain number of hours in an actual medical assisting environment.

On-Campus Training Programs

With an on-campus program, you’ll attend your laboratory sessions and classes in a traditional campus setting. The program utilizes a set schedule and might even have classes in the evenings. On-campus programs give you face-to-face instructor interaction and a highly structured learning environment. You may create bonds with fellow classmates that will last for years to come. In person interactions also leads to greater networking opportunities.

Qualities of a Successful Medical Assistant

There are a few qualities and abilities you should have if you’re going to pursue a career as a medical assistant. Most of these qualities involve skills that can be taught.

Compassion and a Willingness to Help

Compassion is an important quality for anyone in the healthcare field to possess. You should also be willing to help. As a medical assistant, you’ll work closely with patients. Many of your duties will involve communicating with patients and sometimes acting as a communication bridge between them and doctors or specialists.

These are common duties a medical assistant uses to interact with patients:

  • Conducting patient interviews to record medical history, confirm the purpose of the visit, and answer questions
  • Preparing patients for their examinations by checking vital signs, to include body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and oxygen saturation
  • Educating patients regarding their physician’s orders
  • Scheduling surgeries by making the proper arrangements with surgical centers, verifying times with the patient, and obtaining all necessary consent forms

The Ability to Manage Clerical and Clinical Duties

A good portion of medical assisting is helping to keep the office, hospital, or other clinical setting running smoothly by dealing with day-to-day clerical duties. On the administrative side, a medical assistant will perform the following duties:

  • Securing patient information by adhering to confidentiality standards when taking and sharing the patient’s information
  • Establishing and following basic procedures and standards that help the workplace function securely and safely
  • Complying with basic legal regulations regarding healthcare practices
  • Keeping supplies ready by tracking the inventory, placing necessary orders, and verifying the receipt of new supplies

On the clinical side of medical assisting, typical duties involve:

  • Keeping the equipment operating properly by following the operating instructions, performing preventative maintenance, and calling in repairs as needed
  • Preparing medical equipment for use by professionals and using it to perform basic medical examinations

A Desire to Continue Learning

Medical assistants are constantly learning new technologies and procedures. Each new setting may have its own type of software, organization, and unique challenges. In addition, medical assistants constantly learn new information about patients and general medical care. An ability to learn quickly and a drive to continue learning is important for a medical assistant to be successful.

Did learning about how to become a medical assistant 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, 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.

How to Become a Dental Assistant

If you’ve been considering a career in the dental field, work as a dental assistant might be right for you. Dental assistant  can be completed in as little as 9 months, so you’re likely to enter the workforce soon. As a Dental Assistant you will be able to help patients and perform many clinical duties in a dental office.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Primarily the dental assistant assists the dentist during diagnosis and treatment of patients. Some possible responsibilities include:

  • Providing assistance while the dentist treats patients
  • Taking and developing x-rays
  • Taking the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, and medical history
  • Sterilizing and taking care of dental instruments
  • Providing patients with instructions and education regarding upkeep of their oral health
  • Performing general office management tasks
  • Communicating with office suppliers and patients

A dental assistant may work in any dentistry-related field including standard dentistry, pediatric dentistry, oral surgery practices, orthodontics, and periodontics.

How to Become a Dental Assistant

The dental assisting field is projected to grow by at least 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it one of the most rapidly-growing healthcare professions.

Dental assistant programs are available at vocational schools. They generally take less than one year to complete, depending on the type of certification you’re pursuing.

Educational courses typically cover:

  • Oral anatomy
  • Administration tasks in a dental office
  • Dental radiography
  • Dental pharmacology
  • Dental materials
  • CPR and basic first aid

You might also complete an externship as a voluntary part of your coursework to get real-world experience before you enter the workforce.

Who Would Enjoy a Career as a Dental Assistant?

The best candidates to become a dental assistant include those with empathy, compassion, an interest in helping others, an interest in continuous learning, and a variety of skills.

Those with Empathy and Compassion

Like any medical profession, those in the dental assisting field should have a sense of empathy and compassion for people who are uncomfortable. Dental procedures can often cause discomfort, especially if patients are young, sensitive or anxious about dentistry. One of the main jobs that dental assistants do is help patients feel comfortable before, during, and after any procedures.

Those Interested in Helping Others

All healthcare professions should promote health and wellness in clients. For dental assistants, interacting with patients makes up the bulk of your day-to-day work.

A dental assistant should look for work in a dental specialty that activates their desire to help others. Helping people is good for one’s own mental health as well, whether it’s done in the workplace or elsewhere.

A dental assistant that is interested in helping children and making them comfortable may choose pediatric dentistry. Orthodontics is a good field if a dental assistant wants to help people with braces and other orthodontic-related needs. Oral surgery practices are ideal if a dental assistant wants to help people stay calm before and during surgery, as well as supporting patients with the post-surgery healing process.

General dentistry lets a dental assistant interact with a variety of patients during a range of situations, from routine checkups to more serious oral procedures.

Those Interested in Continuous Learning

A career in the dental assisting field will involve continuous learning and an expansion of one’s field of knowledge. While a dental assistant’s daily schedule and responsibilities may remain fairly routine, they will constantly be exposed to new situations.

A dental assistant will treat patients from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a wide variety of health needs. They will get hands-on experience with office organization and management. It’s impossible to stagnate because one’s brain needs to absorb new information. A dental assistant that likes to continue learning throughout their life will have a bright future in a healthcare career.

Skills Needed for Success

Dental assistants have a variety of skills they’ll need to learn and practice to manage day-to-day job responsibilities. A successful dental assistant will have to pay close attention to detail and have good communication, customer service, teamwork, and organizational skills.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is an essential skill for every aspect of this position. A dental assistant needs to make sure sanitization and other health procedures are followed correctly. The dental assistant also needs to be accurate when recording patient information, administering tests, and inputting data into the computer.

Communication

Good communication skills are an essential part of being a dental assistant. Not only will a dental assistant communicate with the dentists to get their instructions, but they’ll also interact with patients, office suppliers, and insurance companies.

The dental assistant will need to know how to ask questions to ensure that they understand the dentist’s instructions. When talking to patients, a dental assistant will need to understand and clearly communicate procedures, health conditions, and treatments.

When talking to suppliers, a dental assistant will need to communicate their office and healthcare needs. If insurance companies call about billing, they will need to explain the patient’s history and treatment in HIPAA-compliant terms.

Customer Service

Customer service is another essential skill. A dental assistant needs to give patients information and listen to their concerns with empathy and understanding. Especially in situations where a patient is undergoing a painful procedure or dealing with a painful illness, it is important that the dental assistant makes the patient’s social interaction as easy as possible.

A dental assistant may need to employ problem-solving skills with regards to insurance issues, patient confusion, or patient fear regarding certain procedures. Problem-solving becomes doubly important when a dental assistant works with children, who may not  who may not understand what is happening.

Teamwork

A dental assistant needs to use teamwork on a day-to-day basis. Every employee in a dentistry practice must work together to make sure patients are well cared for and office operations run smoothly. Depending on the size and specialty of the practice, a dental assistant might work with multiple dentists, other dental assistants, receptionists, office administrators, and other healthcare professionals.

Organization

A dental assistant will need to be organized to help keep the office well run. The administrative duties they are responsible for will vary depending on whether the office has a receptionist or a full-time office administrator.

If the dental assistant is in charge of administration duties, they may need to keep and file patient records, set appointments by phone, update billing and schedule information digitally, and prepare the dentist for daily appointments. This means that they will need to have an easily navigated organizational system and be able to focus on multiple tasks at once.

Final Thoughts

Dental assisting is one of the fastest-growing healthcare fields. With recent changes to many insurance policies, more people are able to afford dental care in the U.S. than ever before. Students can complete a 9-month vocational program to become a dental assistant in no time. Becoming a certified dental assistant will let you enter the workforce quickly, accrue experience, and decide where you want to specialize.

Did learning about how to become 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..

How to Become a Medical Office Assistant

The medical office assistant has a different focus than that of a clinical medical assistant. Each state determines the actual scope of practice for medical assistants, but in all states, they must work under the supervision of a doctor or licensed nurse such as an RN or LPN. A medical office assistant performs clerical duties and billing rather than clinical tasks. Here’s how to become a medical office assistant.

Medical Office Assistant Training

While medical office assistants can be trained on the job, there may be limitations in such training. Many employers prefer or require that their medical office assistants graduate from an accredited program. Medical office assistant training programs can be found in vocational schools. While the programs may vary slightly in length and curriculum, a typical diploma program lasts about six months. A typical curriculum for a medical office assistant will include medical terminology, the use of office equipment, billing and coding, legal and medical ethics, communication skills and scheduling.

Skills for Becoming a Medical Office Assistant

As with any occupation, that of a medical office assistant requires certain skills and personal characteristics for success. First, you should genuinely like and want to help people. A warm, empathetic manner helps build rapport, relieve patient and family anxiety, and promote better communication. Your communication skills should be excellent, both written and verbal, as much of your work will revolve around transmitting information. Attention to detail is another critical characteristic needed in tasks such as billing, coding or scheduling. Flexibility is important, as health care changes happen on a regular basis. In addition, in a small office you may need to perform multiple tasks in the same day. Knowledge of medical terminology, billing rules, regulations, medical coding, and the ability to decipher complex material will help ensure your work is accurate.

Duties of a Medical Office Assistant

The medical office assistant performs clerical and administrative duties. These may vary according to the size of the office in which they work, but typically include such tasks as:

  • Processing insurance claims
  • Medical coding & billing
  • Maintaining medical or financial records
  • Front office management procedures
  • Collection procedures
  • Scheduling patients for appointments, medical procedures or surgery

In larger offices, these duties are often divided, so that one person acts as a receptionist, another handles billing and collections and a third manages specialty referrals. Some offices have an insurance expert, someone who helps patients complete forms, interacts with the insurance companies and works on payment denials. A medical office assistant may also act as the physician’s secretary and be responsible for writing letters, managing the physician’s schedule or similar administrative tasks.

Medical Office Assistant’s Work Settings

The medical office assistant who is trained in administrative tasks is most likely to work in an area such as medical records. Many hospitals also offer job options as clinic secretaries or administrative assistants in the various areas where patients receive care. A clinical secretary frees up licensed nurses to perform clinical tasks and can help ensure the unit runs efficiently by transcribing doctor’s orders, answering the telephone and ordering supplies.

Although many organizations use electronic medical records, there is still a need for document scanning of outside records or records that are not in electronic format. These must be properly identified and indexed within the patient chart. Hospital billing is complex and attention to detail is important in this kind of work. Hospitals have coding needs more complex than those of an office, especially if the hospital has a tumor registry or if clinical research is conducted on the premises.

Advancing Your Career as a Medical Office Assistant

There are plenty of opportunities for advancement. Certifications may also improve your chances of promotion. Look for recognized 3rd party testing organizations such as The National Center for Competency Testing or NCCT. Additional education in management and leadership may open the door to a supervisory position. You might also choose to work in a specialty office rather than in general practice.

With a relatively short educational period and high demand, becoming a medical office assistant offers you many potential benefits. Begin with a good education and take opportunities for additional training or experience. You can have a long and satisfying career as a medical office assistant and you will be helping others to improve their health.

Enjoy 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 graduates to work as an entry-level medical front office assistant, receptionist, insurance billing, 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.

Good Health Habits for a Healthier Body: A Medical Assistant Guide

A wholesome diet is the foundation of wellness. As a support professional, it’s a medical assistant’s role to help doctors, nurses and nutritionists educate patients about healthy eating habits. A medical assistant should understand how different types of foods affect the body and how certain foods relate to serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. These are the basics every medical assistant should know.

Basic Nutrition

Food is fuel for the body and comes in two essential forms, macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber and water. They are necessary for energy and healthy body function. Micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, support the billions of chemical processes that occur in the body and are only needed in small quantities.

Macronutrients

Because macronutrients are consumed in large amounts, consistently eating too much or too little of any single type can cause or worsen disease. Balance is essential for good health.

Carbohydrates – Glucose, a simple sugar, is the body’s primary fuel, and it comes mostly from carbohydrates. So-called simple carbs like white bread and pasta have little fiber and are quickly converted by the body into glucose, causing blood sugar to spike and fall sharply. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and legumes take longer to digest and keep blood glucose, and energy level on a more even keel.

Protein is made up of nine amino acids, each with a unique function, from cellular repair to building muscle. Amino acids can’t be synthesized by the body and are found nowhere else in nature, so consuming protein regularly is a must. Meat, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, grains and legumes all contain protein, but only animal protein contains all nine amino acids.

Fats – also known as lipids, are vital for temperature regulation and serve as a secondary form of energy. Most come from food, but cholesterol, a sterol similar to fat, is also produced naturally by the liver. Fats insulate nerve fibers, support cell walls, and help the body process certain vitamins, but some are healthier than others. Saturated fat, found in most animal products, is associated with higher rates of heart disease, while unsaturated fat, found in vegetables, fruits and fish may have a protective effect.

Fiber – is not digestible and comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in a fluid. It helps regulate blood sugar and lipids and may decrease inflammation. Insoluble fiber provides bulk and helps stool move through the intestinal tract. Both play a role in preventing constipation and maintaining a healthy balance of gut microorganisms.

Water – Every chemical reaction in the body requires water. It regulates body temperature, hydrates skin, lubricates joints and muscles and helps the body process waste. Up to 60 percent of the human body is water, and without it, life is not sustainable.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals essential for good health.

Vitamins – Thirteen vitamins come in two forms, fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K need lipids to be absorbed and are stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins including eight B-vitamins and vitamin C dissolve in water and can’t be stored. Each has a different, but necessary role in the body. Vitamin deficiencies are rare in the United States, but because animal products are the best natural source of vitamin B-12, vegans may need a supplement or fortified foods to get the recommended daily allowance.

Minerals – The body needs five major minerals including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and sodium plus small amounts of trace minerals including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride, cobalt and selenium. Like vitamins, each plays a different role, but all are critical to healthy body function. Because minerals control the body’s fluid and pH balance, even minor deficiencies or excesses should be avoided.

Diet as a Tool for Good Health Habits

Doctors and nutritionists recommend proper nutrition as one of many good health habits that can decrease the risk of disease, but they also use dietary modifications to manage certain chronic conditions.

High Blood Pressure

Sodium may not be directly responsible for hypertension, but because it controls fluid balance in the body, overuse can cause water retention that raises blood pressure and damages the kidneys. To prevent hypertension, consuming less than 2000 milligrams of sodium daily by avoiding salty and processed foods is recommended. For clients diagnosed with high blood pressure, less than 1500 milligrams is the target.

Atherosclerotic Heart Disease and Stroke

Atherosclerotic heart disease is the progressive narrowing and stiffening of the coronary arteries due to a build-up of fatty plaques. Over time, this can lead to a complete arterial blockage and a heart attack. If a plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot that leads to stroke. Risk factors include smoking, hypertension, diabetes and stress, but also obesity and high cholesterol, which can be changed with diet. To manage the risk of heart disease and stroke, doctors recommend good health habits like cutting calories, decreasing sodium to lower blood pressure and eliminating the saturated fat that forms arterial plaques.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is an excess of blood sugar caused by the body’s resistance to insulin. It’s a complex disorder but is rooted in excess consumption of carbohydrates and obesity. As a lifestyle disease, it’s preventable with good health habits including a balanced diet.

Good Health Habits for Long-Term Wellness

Medical assistants can reinforce the doctors’ dietary recommendations and encourage clients to build on their nutrition efforts with these additional suggestions:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise
  • Manage stress by finding time to relax
  • Avoid micronutrient deficiencies by eating a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Sleep enough to feel rested
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Stay hydrated
  • See a doctor as recommended for regular preventive care

Wellness is a journey built on a lifetime of good health habits. As part of the healthcare team, medical assistants can support their patients in that journey by being a valuable source of information and support.

Did learning about how medical assistants can educate patients about good health habits 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, 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, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.