Medical assistants can help relieve the burden on nurses
Medical Assistants have been in existence for over half a century. Recently, there has been a debate about the role that Medical Assistants should play in the healthcare field. Connecticut and New York are the only two states that do not allow Medical Assistants to administer vaccines and medications.
The Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants (CTSMA) has petitioned the Connecticut legislature for many years. There have been several attempts to expand the role of Medical Assistants that have been passed by the house, but none of these attempts has been successful. It seems as if the biggest opposition is from nurses.
The biggest concern addressed is whether medical assistants receive enough education and training to administer vaccines and medications. Mary Jane Williams, Connecticut Nurses Association, has argued that administering medicine requires “skill, knowledge and judgement that MAs lack,” and that “Medical assistants are unlicensed individuals with limited education in medication administration, enhancing their role places an underappreciated risk to provider practices.”
It has also been noted that by allowing medical assistants to administer medications and vaccines will cause administration errors. (Don’t we have those errors already? Who is making them? It’s not the medical assistants!)
Let’s clear the air. Medical assistants attend a two-year program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), and they are required to perform a test in order to become certified or registered.
The curriculum of medical assistants includes anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical terminology and phlebotomy. The CTSMA compared a MA’s student’s curriculum with that of a Licensed Practical Nurse, (LPN). The curriculum was comparable. In fact, The MA had more pharmacology training than the LPN. This evidence was submitted in testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly.
Nurses are over-worked and stressed to the max. Their case loads are out of proportion and they have too many patients to handle. Patients are left without efficient, continuous care. Let’s allow medical assistants to help lighten the load.
Connecticut should join the other 48 states to allow medical assistants to administer medications and vaccines. The General Assembly meets on House Bill 6943 today.
Tabitha Opie is Vice President of the Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants.
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