Out of all of the allied health professionals, Medical Assistants possess critical skills that make them among the most versatile. They are trained to perform both clinical and administrative duties so they can provide help whenever and wherever it’s needed most. During a national crisis, Medical Assistants can serve on the frontlines. They can be the first person a patient encounters when they need care. If you’re a medical assistant, you already know how valuable your training and skills are and how you could help in a national crisis:
Where You Work as a Medical Assistant
As a medical assistant, you probably work in a physician’s office. But you might also work at a hospital or at an outpatient care center. Your duties can vary from office to office, from facility to facility, and even from state to state, but in a crisis, your skills will be needed.
Medical Assistant Administrative Tasks During a Crisis
Much of what you need to do during a crisis is what you already do. But there will be added precautions and more paperwork. For example, you probably routinely schedule patients for appointments and procedures. But what if your office stops seeing patients that require what’s considered routine care? Regular exams, elective procedures, and anything that can wait will probably be put on hold. Following the directions of the doctor you work for and medical agencies in charge, you’ll need to separate out regular exams from more urgent care. You’ll need to reschedule patients and their tests and exams.
You also answer phones and greet patients—in normal times. But if patients are contagious, you’ll need to wear protective gear and you’ll need to be sure they do not come in contact with well visitors and patients. In fact, you may need to restrict anyone but patients from coming into your office. You may even set up telemed calls between patients and physicians so less people come into the office at all.
If you work in a hospital, you’ll follow strict protocols on what you need to wear, where you’re allowed to go and who you can see when you’re on duty. You probably used to be allowed to move from floor to floor; but not in a health crisis.
And if you thought there were lots of medical records and insurance forms to fill out in your regular day-to-day, there will be more when there are more patients and more agencies involved. In addition to your office or hospital and insurance companies, you may need to provide information to organizations like the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Medical Assistant Clinical Duties During a Health Crisis
You’ve always prepped exam rooms and cleaned up after patients. But in the midst of a health crisis, you’ll need to follow even stricter guidelines. For example, you may be required to wear protective equipment or be limited to the rooms you enter and clean. Follow the rules set out by your organization and by the CDC.
Another critical role you play is during patient intake. You used to take medical histories and ask routine questions about why a patient came in. You’d take vital signs and enter info into their medical records. But during a crisis, you may need to quickly address whether or not your patient might be contagious and separate them immediately from other patients. The CDC recommends isolating “symptomatic patients as soon as possible…setting up separate, well-ventilated triage areas,” and placing patients “in private rooms with door closed and private bathroom (as possible).”
You might also be required to collect samples, such as blood, urine, nasal or throat swabs that could be used for medical tests. And then there’s the “assist” you’ve always done to help physicians and other members of the healthcare team. Above all, you’ll need to stay alert. A patient’s health can go from bad to worse in a matter of moments, so it’s important to know when to call for a nurse or doctor.
If you’re not a Medical Assistant but are inspired to serve others by those on the frontlines, contact Charter College. Our Medical Assistant Training will provide you with the information, technical skills, and administrative skills necessary for an entry-level job in the field. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.