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.

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.

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.

 

11 Qualities that Make a Good Medical Assistant

Becoming a medical assistant requires a diploma from a vocational school and skills that are vital for the job. Candidates must also possess several personal qualities that ensure they are able to interact with patients as well as members of the healthcare team.

Quality #1: Effective Communicator

A medical assistant must learn medical terminology in order to understand professional conversations regarding medical conditions, diagnostics and treatments. In addition to communicating with members of the medical team, good medical assistants must have the ability to translate the terminology into lay-person terms that patients can understand.

Communication is a two-way street. A medical assistant must also possess good listening skills. Medical assistants listen to patients explain their symptoms and concerns. The medical assistant must answer questions to the best of their knowledge. When interviewing a patient, they need to know how to obtain all of the pertinent information from the patient to ensure the physician has the facts necessary to make an appropriate diagnosis. Good listening skills are also necessary when receiving instruction from physicians and nurses. Following an examination, patients may ask a medical assistant to clearly explain any procedures they must undergo and the treatment they will receive.

Quality #2: Compassionate

A medical assistant may encounter patients experiencing pain. Patients or parents may express fear concerning a potential diagnosis or condition. Medical assistants must offer compassion and support. Patients must feel that the medical team understands their concerns and has sympathy for their emotional state. The qualities of compassion and understanding help alleviate anxiety and encourage a sense of calm in patients of all ages.

Quality #3: Outgoing

Throughout each work day, medical assistants interact with a variety of patients, physicians, nurses and other members of the medical team. At times, the medical assistant may need clarification concerning a particular task. They must be able to ask the questions necessary to stay informed. Many of the conversations occur in person. Some of the conversations occur over the telephone. In any instance, a medical assistant must be a “people person.” This occupation is not for someone who is shy or withdrawn.

Quality #4: Nonjudgmental

A medical assistant may encounter patients who require medical treatment as a result of a prior unwise decision. Medical assistants may meet patients who have lifestyle choices or who are from cultures that are in stark contrast to their own. Regardless of the circumstance, the professional behavior of the medical assistant requires that they do not pass judgment on others. It is also unprofessional for a medical assistant to judge or gossip about patients or other employees. During their career, medical assistants may encounter ethical and moral issues but, as a member of the medical team, a medical assistant’s main concern is to always provide the best possible care for their patients.

Quality #5: Self-Controlled

Patients consult with medical professionals in order to receive the treatment they need to maintain their health and well-being. The field often presents several emotional challenges. Medical assistants may interact with patients exhibiting a wide range of emotions. At times it is difficult not to become emotionally attached or affected by the emotions displayed by others. However, despite what a medical assistant thinks or feels in the moment, they must display a professional attitude toward the patient and others.

Medical assistants may encounter people who are less than personable. Medical staff and patients may, at times, become frustrated or angry. In these cases, the medical assistant must have the ability to take another person’s personal temperament in stride and not allow the encounter to prevent them from performing their duties.

Quality #6: Calm Under Pressure

Physicians’ offices, quick-care clinics or similar medical facilities are bustling with activity throughout the day. Staff members pitch in and manage a number of responsibilities and assignments. During the course of the day, a medical assistant might encounter ranting patients or demanding members of the medical team, in addition to trying to fulfill their own duties. At times, an eight-hour shift may seem like a never-ending array of demands. Under these circumstances, the job can easily become stressful. A medical assistant must be able to handle multiple tasks and deal with difficult situations as they arise with a calm, controlled and cool-headed demeanor.

Quality #7: Reliable

Reliability is one of the most desirable qualities any employee can possess. Medical employees are expected to arrive at the agreed upon time and to accomplish the assigned duties within their scope of practice. Other members of the health care team rely on medical assistants to behave and act in a professional manner that appropriately represents the facility in which they are employed.

Quality #8: Honest

By being an honest person, a medical assistant is better able to establish trusting relationships with both patients and colleagues. When explaining procedures and treatments with patients, they must resist the urge to sugar coat the experience. Likewise, if a medical assistant makes a mistake, they should admit the error, make the necessary corrections, make amends and strive to improve. Co-workers will not view someone who engages in deceptive behavior as trustworthy.

Quality #9: Integrity

The quality of integrity can be described as how someone acts when others are not around to witness their behavior. The trait must be displayed when interacting with co-workers or in an examination room with a patient. Patient information is another area in which integrity has a role. The HIPAA Privacy Act protects patient information. Personal patient information should never be shared with people outside of the medical team responsible for that individual’s care. Behavior and conversations in and around the workplace must be both professional and discreet.

Quality #10: Well Organized

The many tasks that a medical assistant might complete in a day require that the individual is well organized. In addition to visiting with patients and consulting with colleagues, the medical assistant is required to complete various documents. They may need to provide medical professionals with laboratory tests and other pertinent information needed to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment. The various tasks must be completed at specific times during the day. The medical assistant needs to manage their time accordingly to accomplish their duties to the best of their ability in the time frame allowed.

Quality #11: Adaptable

Adaptability is a good trait to possess. A medical assistant must be able to adjust their normal schedule to accommodate sudden change. They may need to use problem-solving skills in order to manage all that is required in the moment. Adaptability also helps when dealing with the many different personalities that medical assistants encounter. As their career progresses, medical assistants may need to learn additional skills or gain advanced knowledge. It is in the best interest of the medical assistant to embrace change as needed.

Did learning about the qualities that make a good 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, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.