Scope of Practice

Hitting the Road for Health Care

Greetings, everyone! The last couple months have taken me on the road to keep up with the never-ending developments in the health care arena. My first stop was Milwaukee, where I attended the Spring 2011 meeting of the Health Professions Network. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to network and form alliances with a number of health care associations, from the American Medical Association to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.

A presentation at the meeting that I found particularly enlightening was that of Ron E. Peck, Esq., general counsel and senior vice president of the Phia Group, LLC. Mr. Peck provided an update on how the insurance world is adjusting to health care reform, as well how the current political and economic climates could affect such changes. He raised the possibility of insurance companies departing the health care arena altogether, rather than navigate the new rules and requirements expected to come with health reform.

All of the presentations given at the HPN meeting were informative, and I encourage you to review them if you have the opportunity. The HPN has made them available at http://www.healthpronet.org/milwaukee_april_2011.php, and you can view a summary of the meeting at http://www.healthpronet.org/docs/2011-04_hpn-summary-Milwaukee.pdf.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to our nation’s capital for an allied health workshop sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A highlight of the meeting was a statement by Susan Chapman, PhD, RN, of the UCSF School of Nursing. Dr. Chapman described medical assisting as the “profession of the decade,” and the parties in attendance expressed their agreement. The workshop featured much talk about the value of medical assistants in patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs). As a follow-up comment to a presentation about expanded use of medical assistants in PCMHs, I emphasized the importance of patient protection, and that medical assistants should be graduates of programmatically accredited medical assisting programs. I also spoke of the necessity of medical assistants possessing a current medical assisting credential that includes the depth, breadth, and rigor to protect patients and employers from substandard and potentially patient-jeopardizing medical assisting services.

Needless to say, a great deal is going on in the world of health care, and medical assisting will be directly affected by the coming changes. We must ensure the profession has a voice in the health care arena.