Scope of Practice

Forging Ahead in Washington State

Greetings, everyone! Key health care leaders in the state of Washington conducted a sunrise hearing regarding continuing confusion over the “health care assistant” category in Washington law and the medical assisting profession.

Dr. Dean Martz, president of the Washington State Medical Association stated that “Medical assistants are the vital glue that keeps medical practices running smoothly.” He stated that “the association has heard a loud and clear message statewide to fix the current situation.” Dr. Martz enumerated the strongest reasons that the roles of medical assistants need to be better defined in practices and the government. With impending health care reform and increasing demand for health care services, medical assistants will need to continue to fill an important role for health care delivery teams.

I was able to second this urgent call for improved legislation in the state. There is no other state that has a health care assistant type of regulation. Health care assisting is not a profession, but a statutorily created category from the early 1980s to address a specific problem. However, the issue is that because the health care assistant law just addresses blood withdrawal and injections, the interpretation by the department has been that no other duties that can be delegated to medical assistants. There is no other state with that type of regulatory system.

There is a great need for recognizing the abilities of medical assistants. States have taken that action to ensure medical assistants will be able to work to the top of their training and education and will free up other health care professionals to concentrate on their areas of concern.

Stay tuned for further developments. I will share more thoughts in the AAMA’s upcoming Nov/Dec 2011 CMA Today magazine.

2 thoughts on “Forging Ahead in Washington State”

  1. I am a CMA (AAMA) who graduated from a college in Nebraska and am finding it hard to obtain a job in Washington due to the catergories they have for the medical assistant that nebraska does. Most places want a catergory A, C, or E to work here. But Nebraska does not do this. What should I do.

    1. Thank you for your question. I am happy to respond.

      Washington State was the only state that has the Health Care Assistant category written into law, with its various categories. However, a new medical assisting law was enacted just this week. I would suggest that you wait to see how the provisions of the new law will affect your job prospects in Washington.

      I will e-mail you the e-mail addresses of two of the government affairs legislative leaders of the Washington State Society of Medical Assistants. You should feel free to e-mail them about the status of the new law.

      I hope this is helpful. Please let us know how we can be of further assistance.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Executive Director, Legal Counsel

      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 |

      Visit us on Facebook!

      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional

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