"I'm an uncertified medical assistant" - page 12

I had a curious encounter at the doctor's office today. When I went in for my physical, a woman in scrubs came in ahead of the doc. She was wearing scrubs but no name tag. We hadn't met before, so I... Read More

  1. by   DusktilDawn
    Quote from mistydave
    nope just taken WAY out of context---------
    I realize that when a patient yells "nurse, nurse" that they are trying to get someone's attention. I just don't think it has to be rude to inform the patient regarding who you are. So often I see staff enter a patient's room and start doing things without even bothering to tell the patient who they are and what they are doing. I think the simple act of introduction and explaination can circumvent some issues that develop between staff and patients/and or families.
  2. by   rn undisclosed name
    I agree that people should introduce themselves by their title and the public should be more educated as to the different types of medical professionals.

    At work we have physician assistants and most people don't know that they are. They know nurse practicioners but aren't real clear on PA. We have one PA who readily lets patients believe he is a doctor and will not correct/educate the patient. I always let the patient know he is NOT the doctor if they are thinking he is the doc. I actually find it ironic that we only have one male PA and all the rest are female. The patients almost always think the male PA is the doc (unless the patient is a frequent flyer and has been educated or pays attention to name badges) but when the female PAs go into the rooms the patients almost always know they are not the doc and are the PA. I think it is because they introduce themselves as such.

    My peds office has just started using MA and I'm sorry but I don't think they are properly trained. A month or so back I took my daughter in for what I presumed to be strep throat. The MA swabbed her throat and it was negative so we were sent on our way. Almost a week later my daughter developed the scarlet rash and we retook her in and she tested positive for strep. This time a nurse did the strep test. Next time I am going to insist that the nurse performs all tests. My daughter basically had an untreated strep infection for a little over a week and that makes me mad that they had a MA doing the test who may not be properly trained. It's a shame the office wants to cuts costs at the expense of a patient's health because they are worried about the bottom line. I'd leave if I didn't like my pediatrician so much. Unfortunately I think this practice is becoming more and more common.
  3. by   lorrraii
    Hi, I am a certified medical assistant. I am NOT a nurse. It is imperative for medical assistants (certified and uncertified) to A) never refer to ourselves, directly or undirectly, as "nurses" and B) to ALWAYS only work within the scope of our training. This is a very long reply but I thought perhaps some of you would like to know what our training consists of and what it does not.

    Why am I even on this board? I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge especially when it involves health. Someday I may want to pursue my education further and go to nursing school. I feel there is a lot of miseducation among not only the general public but also within healthcare on defining roles of certain titles and what in terms of qualifications/accreditations do certain titles consist.

    I work in a family practice office and I can't tell you how many patients ask if I'm a nurse and what is the difference. From what I can tell from reading this thread, either I'm explaining myself and my role clearly or patients just don't care, but I have never had anyone say "get me a nurse. I don't want a medical assistant." And yes, I perform phlebotomy; I give immunizations and administer certain medications IM. I also perform EKGs and even assist in minor office surgery. I cannot interpret results, diagnose, or offer medication advise or medical advise. I work directly under the supervision of a physician. Yes, there are RNs and BSNs at the practice I work at and there is a lot of respect for each other. There is no looking over noses at us. We know what we can and cannot do and more importantly they know what we can and cannot do. The nurses at our practice mainly are responsible for triage and nurse-only visits. We room patients and assist in certain procedures.

    To get into medical assisting school I had to pass the NET exam with 85% or better; complete a 2-year program that included classroom, numerous practicals and clinicals. Testing is constant and expectations/standards are very high. Many drop out or fail out. Classroom work included administration, billing, law & ethics, medical asepsis, anatomy, vitals, assisting with *gasp* office surgical procedures, EKGs, assisting in diagnostic procedures/treatments; preparing/administering medications urinalysis, phlebotomy, hematology, coagulation studies, pharmacology, microbiology, pediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics, emergency care. Also numerous clinicals (one clinical was 8 weeks in a hospital lab learning phlebotomy. We had to know how to perform sed rates, hematocrits, differentials, etc.). We are not qualified to work in a hospital lab (i.e. blood bank) but still must be educated and qualified to perform basic labwork appropriate for a physicians' office lab--and yes that also means strep cultures. As you can see this is just a small fraction of what you all learned; and everyone I went to school with says 2 years, for what we learned is way too short--it gives us a broad range of education, but not enough to be an "expert" right out of school--we cannot call ourselves nurses, insurance coding specialists, for ex. It takes experience, continuous education. not to mention a healthy dose of modesty and humility just to hone the skills we learned in school. We also had to complete a 160-hour externship where fortunately for me, I worked at a clinic that gave me much-appreciated further training on EKGs, internal medicine, pediatrics, urology, ENT, urgent care. Certification is a 3-hour intensive exam. CEUs are mandatory for recertification.

    What does this training mean? It is just a fraction of what nurses learn. I've never heard of a medical assistant who does not appreciate and respect the enormous amount of studying and training nurses undertake; furthermore I'm comfortable only working under direct supervision. We know nurses "run the hospitals" and the amount of responsibility, skill and decision making that nurses face everyday warrant much more respect that may seem to be given in our society. I would literally be a fish out of water working in a hospital. I've never heard of a MA/CMA at our facility who would ever misrepresent herself as a nurse. That is a HUGE ethical and legal issue.

    However, I am confident in the work I perform at my office. I strive for and am confident I give the patients that come to our office the very best care I can give UNDER THE SCOPE OF MY EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE. I take great pride and satisfaction in what I do. And yes I wear a badge everyday that says CMA. For more information about certified medical assistants please visit www.aama.ntl.org. And thank you for letting me go on and on, but there is just so much misinformation and unfortunately there sounds like there are a few MAs out there who give us a bad reputation.
  4. by   dbowens02
    Quote from jjjoy
    In common usage "nurse" often means someone taking care another without regard to qualifications. It tends to be used a catch-all category for any kind of health-related assistance that isn't doctoring. Kinda like the term "customer service representative." This terms is vague. They could be referring to a cashier, salesperson, call center personnel, or the like.

    Whether we like it or not, it's a linguistic reality and it seems some MA programs intentionally take advantage of this, implying that professional nursing education is a waste. Very unethical on their part. Still, I think it'd be easier to campaign to increase awareness of "Registered Nurses" and "Licensed Practical Nurses" than to fume over the loose usage of "nurse" in our language.

    How about an ad campaign like this?... Lead in... "What's a nurse to you?" Soft music and a picture of Mom with a thermometer, a kindly-looking woman helping an elderly lady stand up from her chair at home... Then change music to fast beat and cut to a busy hospital ward hallway, one nurse rushes in with sick-looking patient on a gurney and is met by another nurse, the camera focuses on their badges... RN in big letters... another shot of a nurse on the phone "Pharmacy? We need that XXX Stat! then a hand-off of a med, a close up IV push, pan back up to the nurse's badge... RN... a patient surrounded by complicated medical technology just coming to, looks up and sees a nurse introducing himself "I'm your Registered Nurse".... Registered Nurses... we take care of you... brought to you by the Registered Nurses Association for Public Awareness....

    Now you know how if feels to be a CMA who went to school two years and to see all those that did not go to school calling themselves MA's.
  5. by   dbowens02
    Quote from kellykul
    I agree that people should introduce themselves by their title and the public should be more educated as to the different types of medical professionals.

    At work we have physician assistants and most people don't know that they are. They know nurse practicioners but aren't real clear on PA. We have one PA who readily lets patients believe he is a doctor and will not correct/educate the patient. I always let the patient know he is NOT the doctor if they are thinking he is the doc. I actually find it ironic that we only have one male PA and all the rest are female. The patients almost always think the male PA is the doc (unless the patient is a frequent flyer and has been educated or pays attention to name badges) but when the female PAs go into the rooms the patients almost always know they are not the doc and are the PA. I think it is because they introduce themselves as such.

    My peds office has just started using MA and I'm sorry but I don't think they are properly trained. A month or so back I took my daughter in for what I presumed to be strep throat. The MA swabbed her throat and it was negative so we were sent on our way. Almost a week later my daughter developed the scarlet rash and we retook her in and she tested positive for strep. This time a nurse did the strep test. Next time I am going to insist that the nurse performs all tests. My daughter basically had an untreated strep infection for a little over a week and that makes me mad that they had a MA doing the test who may not be properly trained. It's a shame the office wants to cuts costs at the expense of a patient's health because they are worried about the bottom line. I'd leave if I didn't like my pediatrician so much. Unfortunately I think this practice is becoming more and more common.

    It does not take a rocket scientitist to do a strep test. In most cases they do the swab in the lab. Nurse do not work in the lab now do they? Sometimes the tests do come back neg. and can be positive a week later. It is the test not the person doing it. It can come back neg if the patient had something to drink before the test. It can come back neg if they have been sucking on candy or cough drops, etc. Did not matter who did it the first time. It can also came back neg if it is a certian kind of strep and will only show up on a culture. But what do I know I'm only a CMA.
  6. by   dbowens02
    Quote:
    It's a shame the office wants to cuts costs at the expense of a patient's health because they are worried about the bottom line. I'd leave if I didn't like my pediatrician so much. Unfortunately I think this practice is becoming more and more common.

    The CMA's and LPN's are on the same pay scale in our clinic.
  7. by   dbowens02
    Quote from lorrraii
    Hi, I am a certified medical assistant. I am NOT a nurse. It is imperative for medical assistants (certified and uncertified) to A) never refer to ourselves, directly or undirectly, as "nurses" and B) to ALWAYS only work within the scope of our training. This is a very long reply but I thought perhaps some of you would like to know what our training consists of and what it does not.

    Why am I even on this board? I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge especially when it involves health. Someday I may want to pursue my education further and go to nursing school. I feel there is a lot of miseducation among not only the general public but also within healthcare on defining roles of certain titles and what in terms of qualifications/accreditations do certain titles consist.

    I work in a family practice office and I can't tell you how many patients ask if I'm a nurse and what is the difference. From what I can tell from reading this thread, either I'm explaining myself and my role clearly or patients just don't care, but I have never had anyone say "get me a nurse. I don't want a medical assistant." And yes, I perform phlebotomy; I give immunizations and administer certain medications IM. I also perform EKGs and even assist in minor office surgery. I cannot interpret results, diagnose, or offer medication advise or medical advise. I work directly under the supervision of a physician. Yes, there are RNs and BSNs at the practice I work at and there is a lot of respect for each other. There is no looking over noses at us. We know what we can and cannot do and more importantly they know what we can and cannot do. The nurses at our practice mainly are responsible for triage and nurse-only visits. We room patients and assist in certain procedures.

    To get into medical assisting school I had to pass the NET exam with 85% or better; complete a 2-year program that included classroom, numerous practicals and clinicals. Testing is constant and expectations/standards are very high. Many drop out or fail out. Classroom work included administration, billing, law & ethics, medical asepsis, anatomy, vitals, assisting with *gasp* office surgical procedures, EKGs, assisting in diagnostic procedures/treatments; preparing/administering medications urinalysis, phlebotomy, hematology, coagulation studies, pharmacology, microbiology, pediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics, emergency care. Also numerous clinicals (one clinical was 8 weeks in a hospital lab learning phlebotomy. We had to know how to perform sed rates, hematocrits, differentials, etc.). We are not qualified to work in a hospital lab (i.e. blood bank) but still must be educated and qualified to perform basic labwork appropriate for a physicians' office lab--and yes that also means strep cultures. As you can see this is just a small fraction of what you all learned; and everyone I went to school with says 2 years, for what we learned is way too short--it gives us a broad range of education, but not enough to be an "expert" right out of school--we cannot call ourselves nurses, insurance coding specialists, for ex. It takes experience, continuous education. not to mention a healthy dose of modesty and humility just to hone the skills we learned in school. We also had to complete a 160-hour externship where fortunately for me, I worked at a clinic that gave me much-appreciated further training on EKGs, internal medicine, pediatrics, urology, ENT, urgent care. Certification is a 3-hour intensive exam. CEUs are mandatory for recertification.

    What does this training mean? It is just a fraction of what nurses learn. I've never heard of a medical assistant who does not appreciate and respect the enormous amount of studying and training nurses undertake; furthermore I'm comfortable only working under direct supervision. We know nurses "run the hospitals" and the amount of responsibility, skill and decision making that nurses face everyday warrant much more respect that may seem to be given in our society. I would literally be a fish out of water working in a hospital. I've never heard of a MA/CMA at our facility who would ever misrepresent herself as a nurse. That is a HUGE ethical and legal issue.

    However, I am confident in the work I perform at my office. I strive for and am confident I give the patients that come to our office the very best care I can give UNDER THE SCOPE OF MY EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE. I take great pride and satisfaction in what I do. And yes I wear a badge everyday that says CMA. For more information about certified medical assistants please visit www.aama.ntl.org. And thank you for letting me go on and on, but there is just so much misinformation and unfortunately there sounds like there are a few MAs out there who give us a bad reputation.

    Well said. We do have to go to school. So it is not fair for people who have not gone to school to call themselves MA's.
  8. by   TazziRN
    Quote from dbowens02
    Well said. We do have to go to school. So it is not fair for people who have not gone to school to call themselves MA's.
    In the non-certified MA's defense, there are also CNAs and NAs....one certified, one not. This was in the past, at least in California. Now one has to be certified to work as a nurse's aide. When non-certified MAs are no longer recognized and hired, then people can no longer call themselves MAs without having gone to school.
  9. by   dbowens02
    Quote from TazziRN
    In the non-certified MA's defense, there are also CNAs and NAs....one certified, one not. This was in the past, at least in California. Now one has to be certified to work as a nurse's aide. When non-certified MAs are no longer recognized and hired, then people can no longer call themselves MAs without having gone to school.
    There is a big difference between a CNA and a CMA.
  10. by   CarrieH
    It would be interesting to know what state you're in. In most states, an MA has to be certified and/or registered to give injections. I don't know about the RMA's, but as a CMA I had to graduate from an approved program and take a test... I also have to keep up with continuing education to keep my certification.

    I wonder if she's allowed to give injections because of her CNA experience?

    I would still be wary of any office that hires people who don't have the "proof" of competency in their profession.
  11. by   Lisa CCU RN
    Quote from kellykul
    I agree that people should introduce themselves by their title and the public should be more educated as to the different types of medical professionals.

    At work we have physician assistants and most people don't know that they are. They know nurse practicioners but aren't real clear on PA. We have one PA who readily lets patients believe he is a doctor and will not correct/educate the patient. I always let the patient know he is NOT the doctor if they are thinking he is the doc. I actually find it ironic that we only have one male PA and all the rest are female. The patients almost always think the male PA is the doc (unless the patient is a frequent flyer and has been educated or pays attention to name badges) but when the female PAs go into the rooms the patients almost always know they are not the doc and are the PA. I think it is because they introduce themselves as such.

    My peds office has just started using MA and I'm sorry but I don't think they are properly trained. A month or so back I took my daughter in for what I presumed to be strep throat. The MA swabbed her throat and it was negative so we were sent on our way. Almost a week later my daughter developed the scarlet rash and we retook her in and she tested positive for strep. This time a nurse did the strep test. Next time I am going to insist that the nurse performs all tests. My daughter basically had an untreated strep infection for a little over a week and that makes me mad that they had a MA doing the test who may not be properly trained. It's a shame the office wants to cuts costs at the expense of a patient's health because they are worried about the bottom line. I'd leave if I didn't like my pediatrician so much. Unfortunately I think this practice is becoming more and more common.
    It takes about 10 seconds to train someone to swab a throat. Come on now.
    My daughter went in to have her throat swabbed for strep and a MA did it and it came back positive. So obviously there are MA's CAN swab a throat and do it properly.
    There could be a whole hosts of reasons your culture came negative. Or maybe it was just that ONE MA.

    Who knows.
    Last edit by Lisa CCU RN on Apr 15, '07
  12. by   pagandeva2000
    This has always been a touchy subject in these boards. I also know of people that have worked as medical assistants without certification...I was one of them. I had a certificate to draw blood, and took a quick and cheap medical assisting course for about $300 and was sent by an agency to work in clinics. Did it for about 4 years. I did have experience as a CNA and Patient Care Associate, but didn't ever call myself a nurse. We worked under the license of the physician and that was it.

    Now, as an LPN, I would say that the person has the skills to work that office setting, to do vital signs, collect specimens and make appointments, but it takes more to be a nurse. I give credit to them because I do think they are needed and would never insult a profession, but again they are not nurses. The problem stems from the fact that the schools set them up to believe that they are in some cases and also that they share some of the basic skills and that confuses people.
  13. by   Heart4RN
    Quote from candygirlshar
    you are suppose to have a certification when you are a medical assistant. if you have not been a medical assistant program how can you call yourself a medical assistant.
    i am a medical assistant and went through a program. for financial reasons i would never recommend someone go through one of those 6-9 month programs as all the class work you do does not transfer over for future schooling. but how do you think medical assistants came about and who trained them? the doctors who hired the people are the ones who trained them and some still do today. there is no specific training that is required to be a medical assistant as is there is no requirement to be a medical assistant. like the instructors say in nursing school, "i can train a monkey to insert a foley, iv, etc....but to understand the theory and be able to apply it is a whole other thing. medical assistants don't have the content to be able to assess a patient or make a nursing diagnosis, but if they have been in the field long enough and in a certain specialty they do learn from their physician what to look for.

    here is a quote from medical board of california: "medical assistants are not licensed, certified, or registered by the state of california. however, the medical assistant's employer and/or supervising physician's or podiatrist's malpractice insurance carrier [color="lime"]may require that the medical assistant be certified by a national or private association. [color="lime"]a medical assistant must be certified by one of the approved certifying organizations in order to train other medical assistants. (title 16 ccr 1366.3)"

    i do agree though that she should never state that she is a nurse, as she is then putting everybody in jeopardy. the patients who aren't knowledgable of the differences, especially the elderly, just clump everyone into one category "the nurse". when i have a patient refer to me in that way i always correct them with "i am the medical assistant for dr. so&so, we don't have a nurse here".

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