Why My Medical Assistant is Invaluable to My Medical Practice

July 1, 2013
Melissa Young, MD

My practice's medical assistant recently went on vacation and it was only in her absence that I realized the true impact she has for me and my patients.

Consider this my tribute to medical assistants everywhere. My MA was off last week, and man, was it rough.

I know she works hard, and I anticipated that she would be sorely missed while she was on vacation, but you just don’t feel the impact of someone’s absence until they are absent.

In the minute or two that it takes her to bring a patient from the waiting room and get their vital signs, I can refill someone’s prescription, fill out a short form, or prep my note before I walk in. When she’s not here, I have to bring the patient in, and while I am with one patient, no one is bringing the next one into the next room. So, I can’t just go from one room to the next. It may not sound like a lot, but if you save two minutes per patient, and have, say, 20 patients, that’s 40 minutes a day. That’s time that could be spent going over labs, getting a prior auth, or returning a call.

Not to mention the other things she does around here. She downloads glucose meters into our EHR. She gives injections. She calls patients about medication changes. Granted, nothing I am not capable of doing, but things that take time away from doing other tasks, tasks that I cannot delegate. She is also the only person who knows how to do certain things - downloading data from continuous glucose sensors, for example. Yes, this is something that needs to be remedied.

Not to take anything away from my front-office staff. I know they work hard. But when one of them is out, my MA can step in and do their job. When she is out, yes, they can do some of her work, but the rest falls upon my associate and me.

A simple solution, of course, would be to hire another MA. Truthfully, that is not financially feasible at the moment. Someone had suggested getting a temp or a sub, but by the time I taught a sub what to do, I would have been able to do it myself. Plus, with an EHR, the sub wouldn’t have log-in information.

No, we will continue to trudge along and muddle our way without her when she goes on vacation. But I will make sure she knows how much we appreciate her presence.