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The Rules You Need to Know: What Medical Assistants Can/Can't Do

Medical Assistants are high demand professionals who are important members of the modern healthcare team.1 They wear many hats throughout their busy days, from answering phones to assisting physicians and working directly with patients. But before you set out on the path to this rewarding career, find out if you have what it takes to be a medical assistant.

  Know what you will—and won’t—be allowed to do within the scope of your profession.

As a Medical Assistant, you can:

 

·         Take and update patient medical histories

·         Schedule appointments, tests, and procedures

·         Manage patient accounts and records

·         Assist physicians with exams, procedures, and minor surgeries

·         Collect specimens, such as blood and urine, for lab tests

·         Administer medications under the supervision of a physician

·         Prepare instruments and exam rooms

·         Maintain medical and office equipment

·         Take inventory and order medical and office supplies

·         Serve as liaison between patient and doctor

·         Assist with patient feeding and grooming

·         Be a comfort to patients and their families

Wow, that’s a lot of responsibility! But there are some responsibilities that are beyond your purview.

As a Medical Assistant, you cannot:

 

·         Treat or diagnose patients, whether in-person, online or by telephone

·         Perform triage or plan and evaluate patient care

·         Interpret test results or advise patients about their medical conditions

·         Prescribe or refill medications

·         Give out free samples of medications

·         Administer IV medication or anesthetics

·         Perform physical therapy independent of a physician or therapist

·         Operate laser equipment

 

The interesting thing about becoming a Medical Assistant, though, is that what you’re allowed to do also depends on where you live. The profession is regulated by individual states, so what’s okay in one location, may not be allowed in the next. For example, in the State of California, Medical Assistants are allowed to perform additional supportive services once they’ve received training from their employer. In Montana, Medical Assistants must have “active and continuous” supervision from a physician, but the rules don’t say that the doctor actually needs to be onsite to provide that oversight. And in Alaska, an advanced nurse practitioner can even delegate the administration of IV meds to a certified Medical Assistant.1

If you’ve always dreamed of a career helping people who live in your state, find out just what you’ll be allowed to do as a Medical Assistant. Request information now from Charter College and we’ll try to answer all of your questions. We offer Medical Assistant training in Alaska, California, New Mexico, Montana and Washington.

1 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm

2 http://www.americanmedtech.org/portals/0/pdf/news/scopeofpracticearticle_june%202012.pdf