On the Job, Scope of Practice

Scope of Practice near State Borders

I received the following interesting question:

I’m struggling with a difficult question! I am the clinical operations director for a medical group located in Oregon near the Oregon-Washington border. We provide care to Oregon and Washington residents and employ several medical assistants. As you know, Washington law requires certain medical assistants to meet educational and credentialing requirements and to register with the Washington State Department of Health. There are no such requirements for medical assistants under Oregon law.

Do my medical assistants who assist providers treating Washington residents need to meet the medical assisting requirements of the Washington law? All our providers (e.g., physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants) are licensed in Oregon.

The following is my response:

Because you are located in Oregon and the providers are licensed under Oregon law, the governing law is that of Oregon. Therefore, your medical assistants are not required to meet the requirements and register with the Washington State Department of Health. It does not matter that some patients are residents of Washington.

However, if your medical group had another location in Washington, the medical assistants would have to meet the requirements of Washington law to work as medical assistants.

2 thoughts on “Scope of Practice near State Borders”

  1. Don, interesting reply. If I understand you correctly, only the Washington residing MAs would have to comply with this. But what if the Washington MAs that worked in Oregon never substituted in the Washington office? Is it just because their company had an office in their home/residing state that they would have to comply? I’m not saying that is a bad thing as I believe all MAs should go to an accredited school and become a CMA, (AAMA).

    1. Thank you, Jean, and it is good to hear from you!

      My position is that, if a medical assistant works in Washington (regardless of where she/he lives), the medical assistant must abide by the WA requirements.

      If a medical assistant works in Oregon, even if she/he lives in WA, the medical assistant is not required to meet the WA requirements.

      Thank you again, Jean, and I hope this is helpful.


      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Chief Executive Officer, Legal Counsel
      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org
      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional®

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