One of the keys to a high performing, advanced primary care practice is utilizing the skills and expertise of all staff and clinicians to the top of their licensure. An often under-developed resource is the role of the medical assistant (MA). Nationally, MA schools offer basic clinical skills, with an opportunity for an externship to work under an MA in a practice. Additionally, the MA certification or registration exams not only require clinical expertise, but also an understanding of how to function and thrive within a team-based care environment – skills not taught in school and rarely on the job.
With this training gap in mind, in 2016 HealthTeamWorks developed and piloted an Advanced MA Training program that was generously funded by The Colorado Health Foundation. The training provided MAs an opportunity for role expansion and development to support advanced primary care. The training helps attendees improve their personal leadership & professional skills so they can:
- Serve as a primary patient ambassador through teaching participants to utilize Motivational Interviewing, Self-Management Support, education, coaching and goal setting techniques that support behavior change;
- Demonstrate exceptional communication and conflict resolution skills in order to build trust with leadership as a foundation for role expansion and;
- Manage stress and handle multiple priorities with a professional demeanor, thereby increasing quality, efficiency and productivity through time and relationship management skills.
HealthTeamWorks provides four (4) in-person trainings with a small cohort of MAs over the course of one year, along with mentoring support. In our pilots, participants have integrated the following improvements into their practice setting:
- Manager/Leadership activities such as regular check-ins with direct reports and written MA job descriptions
- Facilitating team-building activities and strategies within their practice to reduce MA attrition
- Implementing standardized training methodologies, thereby training new MA staff members efficiently and effectively
- Incorporating self-management support action planning with high-risk and complex patients within the practice
In 2017 we are offering MA training classes in Arvada, Colorado. To learn more and register, please visit the Advanced MA Training page on our website.