medication aide, medication assistant, medication technician, Uncategorized

Medical Assistants and Medication Aides/Assistants/Technicians: Differences and Clarifications

Although I have written about the difference between medical assistants and medication aides/assistants/technicians in Public Affairs articles in CMA Today, I continue to receive questions about the topic. Here are the basics:

Medical assistants work in outpatient settings under direct provider supervision, and may be delegated clinical and administrative tasks. Medication aides/assistants/technicians work in inpatient settings, usually under registered nurse supervision. A primary task of medication aides is to pass medications as directed by the RN supervisor.

Medication aides do not exist under the laws of some states. The laws of other states refer to these health workers by a designation other than medication aide. In some states an individual must first meet the requirements and register with the state as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in order to be eligible to receive additional training and become a medication aide.

Medical assistants do not work in a clinical capacity in inpatient settings as medical assistants per se. Medical assistants must meet the requirements and register with the state as a CNA and/or a medication aide in order to work in a clinical capacity in inpatient settings.

Some state laws refer to medication aides as “certified medication aides.” The initialism associated with this phrase can cause confusion between medical assistants and medication aides. To help minimize such confusion, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing refers to medication aides as “MA-Cs” and encourages states to use this initialism. This change was made at the request of the American Association of Medical Assistants.

medication aide, Scope of Practice

Scope of Practice in Correctional Facilities

The versatility of CMAs (AAMA) is being reflected in the questions I am starting to receive about the scope of practice for medical assistants working in correctional facilities.

If the CMAs (AAMA) are working under direct provider supervision in a clinic within a correctional facility, the standard laws for medical assisting scope of practice apply.  However, if a CMA (AAMA) is functioning as a medication aide and distributing medications under registered nurse supervision (similar to what occurs in a skilled nursing facility or an assisted living facility), the medical assistant would have to meet the state requirements and register with the appropriate state agency as a medication aide.

Accreditation, Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, Scope of Practice

Presentation to the NCSBN

I recently presented a webinar for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing entitled “Medical Assistants: Scope of Practice, Education, and Credentialing.”  This webinar was presented to the boards of nursing of the states and territories of the United States.  The content of this webinar will be published in the Public Affairs department in future issues of CMA Today, but I would like to offer the file for download on Legal Eye.

The substance of this presentation is especially helpful for nurses who have limited knowledge about CMAs (AAMA). The information within touches on some of the following subjects:

  • Defining medical assistants vs. nursing assistants and medication aides
  • Legal principles surrounding medical assisting
  • Education of medical assistants—coursework and accreditation
  • State laws governing medical assisting in South Dakota and New Jersey
  • Medical assisting credentials—trends
  • NCCA accreditation
  • Value of the CMA (AAMA) credential
  • Medical assisting scope of practice

Please view and share this presentation. And, as always, contact me with any questions regarding the legal aspects of the profession.

Scope of Practice

Right-to-practice Issues in Nevada

Hello again! Right-to-practice issues continue to unfold in Nevada. Here is a brief rundown of what has transpired recently in the Silver State:

The Nevada Society of Medical Assistants and the AAMA presented written and oral testimony March 31 to the Nevada Senate Committee on Commerce and Energy. Three bills that would clarify the right of physicians to delegate administration of medication to medical assistants were heard by the committee. I assisted Nevada Society of Medical Assistants President Carol Cohen, CMA (AAMA), in writing the written testimony. I watched the hearing on the Internet, and sent a text message to Carol during the hearing with a suggestion about strategy.

On April 11 another meeting of the Senate Committee was held, and a bill was referred to the Nevada Senate.  It is favorable for medical assistants, and stands a good chance of enactment.

A medication aide bill was also before the committee. I had sent a letter to the sponsor suggesting that the bill should employ the phrase “medication aide-certified” instead of “certified medication aide.” As a result of my letter and the in-person efforts of Carol, the bill was amended and now reads “medication aide-certified.”

Many thanks to NSMA President Cohen for all her excellent work in this ongoing issue!