CMA's in the Office...An objective viewpoint and wake-up call

Specialties Ambulatory


Hi all,

I couldn't help but feel my blood pressure rise at all the negative comments reguarding CMA's in the doctors' office. As a past CMA, I can't beleive the ignorance still exists, but apparently it does.

First of all, NO, CMA's should not be portrayed as RN's. However, most clinics that employ both nurses and CMA, refer to all as 'Nursing Staff'. Our clinic has nametags that clearly state a person's title, CMA, MA, RN, LPN, etc...

Our clinic hires MA graduates from accredited schools of medical assisting. Most have a two-year associate degree in medical assisting...and have to pass a national examiniation to become certified. The test is not easy. So, MA's are not just "people off the street given medical training." If that is the case in your clinic, you had better be talking to your clinic directors about that faulty policy.

MA's from accredited schools are trained in phlebotomy, how to do EKG's, tympanograms, some are trained in X-rays as well. MA's can give oral and injectable medications...I was trainied in IV hydration in college,. MA's are trained in triage, patient ed, cathing and so much more. The training varies between the one-year and two year programs ( just as a difference exists between LPN's and RN's) MA's are not ignorant, or a threat to patient saftey. My goodness, the nursing profession sure has a habit of feeling so threatned all of the time. And it's always under the pretense of "concern for patient care." It's more a concern over job security. MOre and more clinics are MA based, with few RN's...and most RN's work in speciality like triage, allergy, etc...

EVERY medical profession has it's share of undertrained or ignorant people. I have worked with MD's and RN's alike that I wondered how they ever graduated from college. If you have a specific person who m you feel is a threat or danger to patient care, tell your supervisor. DOn't condem an entire profession because of it. And remember, MA's are trained specifically for clinic-based patient-care. That is their traiing focus and that is what they are prepared to handle. RN's are hospital-based professionals. Don't cross the two and then start complaining. MA's are here to stay, they won't be going away. If you have a problem with that, go back to the hospital, or learn to live with it.

This entire board is a constant fight between LPN, RN, CMA, NA and on and on. The more we work together, the better off we will all be.


[ May 08, 2001: Message edited by: Naduah ]

This has been discussed in depth in previous posts. In California, the Medical Assistant's role is spelled out in the California Business Code. Again, it boils down to standards, educational requirements, licensing, etc. The arguments pertaining to RN/LVN/ADN/BSN/PA/NP/CNA/CMA (No wonder the public's confused!) just isn't worth having.

Hi, interesting how long this discussion has been active and sparked renewed interest over and over again. For the sake of this threat, let me say just this:

There are highly trained people in every healthcare delivery profession, including RNs, that are walking time bombs and could be described as a threat to patient safety, ignorant, and instilling enough fear in coworkers, to wish to do something about it.

Let me give a "real life" example:

Very recently a longstanding RN made nationwide headlines. Without having to mention her name, I am certain you must have heard about the case that was brought before the court in Springfield, Massachusetts! She sent to prison for the rest of her life for illegally injecting several patients with epinephrine and killing a number of them at the VA hospital where she worked.

If anyone hasn't here is an URL where you can real all about it:

Who knows...perhaps in this particular case, her victims (the patients AND numerous family members!) would have gladly accepted and benefitted from being cared for by a well trained, honest, and caring certified medical assistant instead of a dishonest, selfish, ignorant, perhaps poorly trained RN and still be alive.

Everybody knows, that certified medical assistants ARE well trained and DO KNOW how to follow a medication order, check the label three times, and follow the Six Rights of a Patient when administering drugs! This is my opinoin regarding CMAs as a threat to patient safety..By the way, this is not only my opinion, I also AM a CMA!

Danni R. CMA

Founder of the Advanced Medical Assistant of Amercica

Okay, now that I vented, let me go ahead and suggest the following solution:

Did you know that by wearing a pin and identification badge on your clothing you can increase your level of respect you recieve and bring out more self confidence? A pin and identification badge shows how proud you are of your healthcare profession and it lets people know that you are well trained or certified. Not only does this make the patient feel more comfortable knowing that his or her care taker is on top of the latest technology, but it also can bring your skills to the attention of high ranking professionals, which could lead to opportunities for career advancement.

Why wear a name badge?

Wearing a simple name badge on your jacket or shirt lapel will give the person you are talking to the opportunity to know your name and your credentials. This will also make people feel more comfortable when engaged in a conversation with you. It helps people to relax if they can call you by your name.

So remember: When planning for success it is not only the big thins we do for career advancement but it is important not to forget the little things!


Danni R. CMA

Founder of the Advanced Medical Assistant of America

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