Medical assistants
Photo credit: The Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) project

Too much to do? Look to your medical assistants in this new training program

By Dona Cutsogeorge, staff author and communications coordinator at the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation at Group Health Research Institute.

Medical assistants (MAs) are often the first contact for primary care patients.  Their traditional role is familiar:  the MA takes blood pressure, leads a patient to a scale to check weight, rooms the patient while offering a gown, then leaves.  But MAs can do so much more when working in an expanded role on a team.

MAs can do pre-visit planning, collect data, review medications, enter data into the medical record, administer preventive care before the provider arrives, and more.  The modern MA is involved in the delivery of care and is an integral part of the team. 

Free webinar: Learn about a new training program for your MAs
There’s a growing need to train medical assistants so that they can provide care within teams, but traditional education hasn’t fully kept pace with the changes in the current environment – nor prepared them to take on these additional tasks.  Traditional medical assistant training programs last six months to two years, and focus on administrative tasks and clinical support. But they neglect the skills critical to being part of a patient-centered care team. 

The National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement (NIMAA) is a new learning institute created to bridge this gap.  Recruiting for NIMAA’s 2017 class has begun—and you can learn more in an informational webinar on January 30. 

Beginning in September, NIMAA's 2017 program combines online teaching with onsite experiential learning in partner host clinics.  It provides training designed to strengthen the primary care delivered within organizations that hire its graduates.  Is your primary care clinic shifting to team care and finding you need more staff get everything done?

During this webinar, you’ll learn from faculty about the structure of the training, and national leaders will address the importance of this new approach.  You’ll also hear from representatives of the Colorado and Connecticut FQHCs that founded the Institute.

National Institute of Medical Assistant Advancement (NIMAA) clinical and curriculum advisers include Dr. Tom Bodenheimer, University of California, San Francisco Center for Excellence in Primary Care, California; Dr. Margaret Flinter and Dr. Daren Anderson, Community Health Center Inc., Connecticut; Dr. Ed Wagner, MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation, Washington; Dr. Tillman Farley, Salud Family Health Centers, Colorado; Dr. Michael Mendoza, Highland Family Medicine, New York; Dr. Abigail Lum, Union Health, New York; and Dr. David Margolius, Cleveland Metro Health System, Ohio.

NIMAA aims to have participating host clinics selected by mid-spring, with participating students being selected by late summer. NIMAA is currently a licensed school in Colorado. At the start of  the Fall 2017 session, NIMAA expects to be licensed in Connecticut, California, Arizona and two additional states.

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