Not all medical careers are created equal, but all have the potential to save lives.
If you are on the fence on what kind of medical career you should pursue to save lives, here are a couple of examples where Medical Assistants saved lives and how you can leverage your MA career to help those less privileged around the world.
In Salt Lake City, a Medical Assistant student went above and beyond the call of duty when she sprang into action after witnessing a crash where the was ejected from the vehicle and suffered life-threatening injuries.
Here is what news outlet KSL reported about the incident:
Utah Highway Patrol troopers aren't sure what happened, but witnesses said the woman behind a white Honda wheel veered across the entire freeway just before she crashed. "I'm assuming she was supposed to get off at the 33rd South exit," said witness Emalee Urban. "She went from the HOV lane and straight over to the exit only lane and hit the barrier and was ejected through her passenger window."
Emalee Urban was on her way home from work as a medical assistant when she saw the crash. She and several others pulled over to help. "She was very badly injured," she said. "She was unconscious when I got there. She had very severe head trauma." Urban worked to stop the bleeding resulting from severe head trauma until paramedics arrived to take the patient to the emergency room.
In this case, Emalee leverage what she learned in the classroom to save a life while on her way home from work.
Not all examples of where an MA saves a life happen outside of work. The Yale School of Medicine recently published a piece where a Medical Assistant recognized a deadly condition and saved a patient's life.
After undergoing triple bypass surgery in August, Robert T. Carlson regularly experienced pain in his chest as part of the recovery process. So when he complained of chest pain during a recent follow-up visit at the Heart and Vascular Center in the Yale Physicians Building, it didn't seem out of the ordinary.
But Medical Assistant Courtney Hood noticed that this time, something was different. Carlson was experiencing shortness of breath and nausea, and he said that his pain level was a ten on a scale of zero to 10. Hood notified her supervisor, Nurse Manager Renande Jean-Noel. They called 911 and comforted Carlson while waiting for paramedics to take him to Yale New Haven Hospital.
Carlson, 57, was found to have a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in his lung), which could have been fatal if left untreated. He credits Hood and Jean-Noel with saving his life.
"She (Hood) has gotten to know me. So, even though I had chest pains before, she could tell that this was different," Carlson says. "She just stepped right up and did what she needed to do. I am beyond grateful."
On his next visit, Carlson asked to see Hood to thank her, and the two had an emotional reunion. "He was crying. He said, 'You guys saved my life. If it weren't for you I wouldn't be here,'" Hood recalls. "I gave him a big hug."
Jean-Noel said she always tells her staff to trust their instincts—and in this case, Hood's instincts may have saved a patient's life.
"It was gratifying," Hood says of the experience. "That's why we're here."
If you are looking for adventure and a chance to make a difference abroad, a medical assistant can join Doctor's Without Borders and help those most in need. Joining Doctor's Without Borders wouldn't be a volunteering operation; it's starting salary is $1,913 per month. Employees get full medical benefits, a 401k, and 25 days of paid vacation each year.
If you are interested in learning more, you can visit https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/.
Here are some examples of MA's working with Doctor's Without Borders.
- Medical assistant active in Sudan conflict – Doctor's Without Borderswas present in Sudan during the Darfur conflict. One of their reports details how a medical assistant joined a team comprised of two nurses, two translators, and five drivers to provide vital services in regional villages that had been struck by conflict. The medical assistant provided services related to birth, treatment of malnutrition, measles vaccinations, and care for bullet wounds.
- Yemen medical assistant holds out at hospital – Medical professionals at a Doctor's Without Borders hospital in Northern Yemen specializing in mother-and-child care as well as emergency treatments were forced to evacuate to that nation’s capital after heavy weapons were being used in their vicinity. Patients seeking treatment were forced to travel to another Doctor's Without Borders facility further away. Due to the possibility of violence the most qualified medical staff were forced to once again evacuate, however one medical assistant and two nurses remained behind to provide basic emergency services.
- Malawi fights AIDS with medical assistants – Doctor's Without Borders estimates that about 65 percent of health care worker positions in Malawi are vacant. The main reason for this is that government training schools graduate far too few medical professionals each year to meet the nation’s demand. Enrollment is down because the cost of a medical education is out of reach for many. A general lack of medical assistants, nurses, and doctors has hampered the fight against HIV/AIDS. To combat this Doctor's Without Borders began a targeted scholarship program that in 2013 graduated 30 mid-level health workers, including 10 medical assistants.