Medical Assistants Are Essential Workers During This Time Of Crisis

During these uncertain times, it can be easy to generalize essential workers based on what we see on television or hear on the news. To lump all essential workers together into a single generalized group of individuals looking to make a difference. But doctors and nurses are not alone in battling this pandemic; they rely on a myriad of people working as a team towards the same goal. 

Some forget that medical assistants are essential workers too. 

Medical assistants are on the front lines, side-by-side to brave doctors and nurses, aiding first responders to render life-saving aid to as many people as possible. While doctors and nurses work diligently to see as many patients as possible, a medical assistant is there to provide assistance and reduce anxiety through empathy, compassion, and patient education. Medical assistants can educate patients about proper hygiene, prevent the spread of a virus, and when it is necessary to contact their doctor. They are responsible for administering virus and disease testing, drawing blood, and any other laboratory testing needed during this crisis.

What is considered essential work?  

According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), this is what is considered essential work: 

The advisory list identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing operational functions, among others. It also includes workers who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. The industries they support represent, but are not limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works.

What do Medical Assistants do during a crisis?

Medical assistants provide support for doctors and nurses in private practices and hospitals. Four out of five medical assistants are employed in doctor’s offices, putting them on the frontline of a public health crisis. The regular duties of a medical assistant during a crisis include:

  • Greeting patients
  • Keeping the reception area clean and sterilized
  • Phone call triage
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Drawing blood
  • Performing diagnostic tests
  • Administering medications including vaccinations
  • Assisting with minor surgical procedures
  • Arranging referrals
  • Submitting insurance claims
  • Ordering supplies
  • Patient education

More than ever, patients depend on their primary providers and their medical assistants for care. During a healthcare crisis, medical assistants use their clinical expertise to ensure patients who need urgent care receive it promptly. During an emergency, time is of the essence.

In a busy office, medical assistants can sanitize frequent touchpoints such as counters, doorknobs, and pens. They can screen patients for symptoms of illness, such as fever. They can remind visitors to wash their hands and stay a safe distance from one another. Medical assistants can also use a patient’s waiting time to educate them about disease prevention. Medical assistants play an essential role during a crisis and are instrumental in saving their patients’ lives.

Blog Post written by:
Dr. Eida Lopez
Medical Assistant Instructor