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Medical Assisting Students and CPOE

I have been asked whether medical assisting students doing their practicums/externships are permitted to enter orders into the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system and have such entry count toward the meaningful use thresholds under the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs.  The following is my response:

During their practicum/externship, students are not permitted to enter medication, laboratory, or diagnostic imaging orders into the CPOE system and have such entry count toward meeting the meaningful use requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs.  However, it is my legal opinion that externing students—as specifically directed by the overseeing/delegating provider at the practicum site—are permitted to draft orders that a supervising credentialed medical assistant or licensed health care professional reviews.  The credentialed medical assistant or the licensed professional can then enter the orders into the CPOE system and discuss with the externing student any clinical decision support alerts that are generated.  If this approach is followed, the externing student will be able to learn about electronic order entry, and—because the order was entered by a credentialed medical assistant or licensed health care professional—the entry can be included in the meaningful use calculations for the Incentive Programs.