A great deal of confusion appears to exist with the role of the medical assistant. As the title suggests, medical assistants are trained to work as assistants to physicians, clinically and/or clerically. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) describes competencies required to practice medical assisting. When education programs apply these competencies in the creation of the medical assistant curriculum, there is a failure to accommodate for practice differences among states. As such, Medical Assistant candidates may receive instruction in skills they are not permitted to perform in the state in which they practice.
Medical Assistants are not permitted to perform any duties that fall within the scope of practice of medicine or nursing. As unlicensed personnel in New York State, they cannot perform such tasks as preparing or administering medications or immunizations, administering oxygen (oxygen is viewed as a drug in New York State); tracheal suctioning; and sterile or invasive procedures, with the exception of phlebotomy. Given the training and validation of competence in phlebotomy, this skill may be performed. No tasks that involve assessment, evaluation, clinical judgment, and problem solving may be performed.
A physician may decide to permit a medical assistant to perform certain tasks, knowing they have had the education and training, with the physician supervising the performance. Permitted are: collection of vital signs, phlebotomy, EKGs, and waive testing, to name just a few. It is recommended that the supervising physician indicate in writing which duties the medical assistant can perform. It is also advisable for physicians to consult their malpractice carrier before establishing the list of approved duties.
Licensed persons found to be facilitating medical assistants performing activities that require a license are subject to disciplinary action by the Office of the Professions of the State Education Department for professional misconduct.
For questions, contact Education, Practice and Research: 518.782.9400, ext. 282