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Medical assistant job RANT- PLEASE HELP


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Hey guys,

I'm really hoping someone can help me out and just tell me this is just this clinic or if I need to switch fields to something else. 

So basically what happened is I got an offer to be a medical assistant for a clinic. I thought it would be a great opportunity as I'm not certified. However after joining the first day, I quickly realized everything they said would be my job such as taking vitals, chief complaints and actual patient interaction was a kind of a joke and they have a HUGE turnover rate. All I do at my practice is take vitals such as height, weight and blood pressure in an open room and just room patients with no real interaction. Then the rest of my time, I spend sending faxes, Prior authorizations and taking phone calls and mainly administrative stuff which I hate. The thing is, I really want to quit my job but it's been less than a month and I'm not sure how it would look on admissions boards if I only stay for 1 month. The practice itself is also awful. There is no support from anyone and everyone talks behind eachothers back. It is an awful overall experiance that makes me question the medical field altogether. Also the PA that works there is also quitting for reasons I'm not sure since it was decided before I got there. I assume it's because he is also always doing all the paperwork for Prior authorizations, answering phone calls and filling forms for 70% of his job. Do most PAs do that much paper work? I have never seen PAs do paperwork when I shadow them besides doing their own chart notes. I really want to put these hours on my application but I don't know if it would look down upon if I quit after a month only.  What would you guys say.

 

Also- I've really just been trying to work it out and remember that it's just a job but the environment is awful. No one is helpful and the nurse I work with is always constantly making racial jokes and laughing them off. I don't want to bring it up to my manager because I've heard her saying things to my manager about my race and nothing is ever said about it. Any advice is preferred.

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Sounds like an office with not-great management and not enough administrative staff to me.

As a medical assistant you can expect to do some clerical work, since the job encompasses both clinical and clerical duties.  But a well-run office with a high enough patient volume will have a dedicated administrative staff to handle most of that.  For example, at the internal medicine clinic where I work (as a medical assistant - starting PA school this summer!), we have one or two people (depends on the day) to handle all the incoming faxes and phone calls, plus one person to handle all the prior auths.  That's in addition to the front desk staff, the office manager, and the referral coordinator.  The MAs handle incoming refill requests and prioritize the faxes sent to our providers, and each of us typically spend about half a day each week answering phones, but that's about it for day-to-day clerical tasks.  For the PA at your clinic to be doing prior auths and answering phones sounds very...off...to me.  Like the management has a very poor idea of what PAs actually do.

Honestly I think I would start looking for another job.  If the management lets that nurse get away with that kind of behavior, then that's not an environment you want to be in.  Do you have other experience doing medical assistant work?  If so, maybe look into taking the exam to become an RMA through the AMT.  It might give you a little more leverage when job-hunting.  Or if you're just looking for any kind of patient care experience at all, maybe look into a CNA or phlebotomy course?  There are courses out there that only take a few months, and those positions are ALWAYS in demand.

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I’m currently a non cert medical assistant at a private practice and honestly the only good thing that’s come from working here has been bonding with the other medical assistants! To be more blunt.. being a MA sucks (in my opinion). There’s way more administrative work than clinical duties (where i work in particular). I would definitely advise you to begin looking into other PCE opportunities. Your sanity and mental health is worth way more! 

Also, prior to becoming a MA i was a CNA for exactly 1 week lol. I added these hours to my application and was never asked about why i only stayed 1 week. I actually brought up some of my CNA experiences during my interviews. An experience is an experience no matter how long you did it. And Even if i had been asked about the hours it’s not like i owed them the entire truth. Just say you found another PCE that allowed you to gain more valuable experiences.

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Thank guys!

 @LAE198 I'm not certified so it makes it super difficult! But this office is just something else. I'm planning on just taking a certification course offered from a closer college but I also don't want to apply this cycle so i'm going to look for another job and then quit this place!

@Lovelydovey123  I understand small clerical roles like help with a form here and there but administrative tasks are awful and you learn absolutely nothing! I'm really glad your co workers are a good support system for you though!! I'm sure that definitely helps!!

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Guest HanSolo

You're discovering that PAs are utilized in different roles across different specialties, and even different roles within the same specialty. Ultimately, you'll find there some PAs are happy with what they have and others will strive toward more responsibility, per say. You need to figure out what sort of work will make you satisfied. Ultimately, even if you are doing basic rooming tasks, there is still a lot to learn from each patient. Read their charts, look at the provider's notes, and look up everything that you don't know (which may understandably be a lot right now). 

To be honest - being an MA is pretty "middle of the road" pre-PA experience. Seriously look into pre-hospital work. It's probably the most bang for your buck in terms of autonomy and decision making. Can you get into PA school with "middle of the road" experience? Absolutely. However, you'll thank yourself later when you are on clinical rotations and you have previous experience of managing a patient on your own. 

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On 2/27/2019 at 5:54 AM, Lovelydovey123 said:

I’m currently a non cert medical assistant at a private practice and honestly the only good thing that’s come from working here has been bonding with the other medical assistants! To be more blunt.. being a MA sucks (in my opinion). There’s way more administrative work than clinical duties (where i work in particular). I would definitely advise you to begin looking into other PCE opportunities. Your sanity and mental health is worth way more! 

Also, prior to becoming a MA i was a CNA for exactly 1 week lol. I added these hours to my application and was never asked about why i only stayed 1 week. I actually brought up some of my CNA experiences during my interviews. An experience is an experience no matter how long you did it. And Even if i had been asked about the hours it’s not like i owed them the entire truth. Just say you found another PCE that allowed you to gain more valuable experiences.

I can relate with this sooooo much. I have a clinical background and when I started my non cert MA position, it was mostly administrative duties that progressed into the clinical duties. But even so, it would mostly just be height/weight and bp/hr and tell them the doc will see them soon. Other things I did were EKGs and strep tests (knew how to do them prior), and breathing tests. The only things I really got out of the job was learning the breathing tests and superficial knowledge of how insurances work. I left bc of my deteriorating sanity and my mental health -- normally I'm not a pessimistic or unhappy person but the place really made me into one.

 

I would go with quality patient experience if you have the chance/opportunity to do so. Experience in EMS is overall beneficial since you learn how to prioritize patients and treatments, get tons of patient interaction, and just generally understand what it means to be a provider. Some colleges offer EMT courses so I'd look into that option if it's available.

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On 2/26/2019 at 6:26 PM, HopefullPAC said:

I thought it would be a great opportunity as I'm not certified. However after joining the first day, I quickly realized everything they said would be my job such as taking vitals, chief complaints and actual patient interaction was a kind of a joke and they have a HUGE turnover rate. All I do at my practice is take vitals such as height, weight and blood pressure in an open room and just room patients with no real interaction. Then the rest of my time, I spend sending faxes, Prior authorizations and taking phone calls and mainly administrative stuff which I hate. 

There is no support from anyone and everyone talks behind eachothers back. 

I assume it's because he is also always doing all the paperwork for Prior authorizations, answering phone calls and filling forms for 70% of his job. Do most PAs do that much paper work? I have never seen PAs do paperwork when I shadow them besides doing their own chart notes.

I really want to put these hours on my application but I don't know if it would look down upon if I quit after a month only.  

No one is helpful and the nurse I work with is always constantly making racial jokes and laughing them off. I don't want to bring it up to my manager because I've heard her saying things to my manager about my race and nothing is ever said about it.

A few different thoughts on this - 

You're right that finding a place to work in as an MA without being certified or having taken a community college course is a good opportunity.

There are ways you can get certified without having taken courses. I took the certification test and became a CCMA this way, which gave me way more leverage job hunting. 

MA turnover is going to be high the majority of places you go. It's the nature of the job. If a place does not have high turnover it is a diamond in the rough. 

There's always something to learn - maximize your time with patients, ask the providers questions about patients, etc. Even with limited duties, you can make the most out of it. Also, I do not think there is nothing to learn from doing prior auths, referrals, etc. You're learning the way a practice works and I think that'll be very valuable as a provider. 

As posted above, there are practices that divvy up the admin work better. Like one poster above, by the time I get a telephone encounter it has usually gone through at least two other people before me who have deemed it necessary of medical attention. This filters out a ton of calls. And I do not think PAs should be doing much of this type of work at all. Only the kind that an MA or admin person could not handle, such as answering a couple of specific questions on a prior auth then letting the MA handle the rest. 

I agree with the poster above on not being ashamed of putting a month of this work down on your application, just emphasize that you left because of the poor environment if asked. 

Now, on the other hand, I think that the poor environment is absolutely unacceptable. Catty-ness by employees toward each other should be handled immediately and any prejudice or racist behavior should be reported and addressed very seriously. With this in mind, I agree that you should start looking at other positions/certification opportunities. 

All in my humble opinion!

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I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this. I have extremely similar feelings about my current job (PCT on a Med/Surg floor starting PA school in August). I’ve been there for 7 months and it drives me absolutely crazy. It has changed me for the worse, and I’m currently looking for another position. 

Bottom line..life is too short to be THAT unhappy. Roll the dice and go somewhere else. Odds are it won’t be any worse, right? 

Good luck! 

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  • 1 month later...

I worked as a medical assistant and an EMT/tech in the ER so I've had different amount of clinical/clerical experience in my different jobs. I will say that I have never had a job in the medical field where some sort of that is not a portion of it. Now it might be filing but then when you get to a different job it will be documentation, communicating with lab, pharmacy, etc. But I get how frustrating it is to want to be doing your clinical job and keep getting sidelined. As someone who had some similar experiences, I tried to look at the non-clinical lessons I was learning. Never have I been in a job, medical or not, where there hasn't been one useless coworker that doesn't do anything and it helped me learn how to deal with them diplomatically when all I wanted to do was shake them. I also talked about how it made me realize that I didn't want to be that provider who treated everyone "on the bottom" like they weren't important and just there for filing. The truth is that the office wouldn't run without them. 

On a personal note, prior authorizations made me want to bang my head into a brick wall until I passed out BUT, they are important. I spent 2 hours on the phone one day but at the end of that I got to call the patient and say that I had gotten their medication covered. I listened to them break down into tears on the phone because they were so relieved and it changed my whole attitude. As corny as it sounds, when I got frustrated with my job and now in PA school when it is common to feel like a failure, I remember this. It is so annoying but so more important to patients than we realize. While it might not be "my job", it is essential to a patient's treatment. The doctor/PA/NP can make the best treatment plan that can help improve their life, but if the patient can't afford it then they are the ones that suffer. 

So moral of the story. You will probably experience some of this to some degree in most jobs because there is a provider shortage everywhere and there is so much to get done but practices don't always have the money to hire the staff needed. This is especially true in primary care or any rural area. I'm convinced you will always experience that one lazy coworker and you do need to know how to work with them. BUT it sounds like your office is especially terrible, and the racism should not be tolerated. You can try going over your manager's head. Another idea might be to contact human resources and bring it to their attention that the job description does not match your actual duties because in some places there are rules about this. Although if it is a private practice and your manager is also human resources, I can get how that wouldn't be an option. So if it is that damaging to you, you should quit and find a new job. You can always find a way to explain it in the interview. 

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  • 2 years later...

This year alone, TWO of the MAs in our practice got into a PA program so the path is there. As to what they learned being an MA, let's take a look at part of one's letter of recommendation:

COVID-19 was a challenging time and xxx fit right in. In the words of our lead PA, xxx “worked quickly and efficiently and had a wonderful bedside manner with our patients. She identified when a patient needed expedited care and calmly notified the provider. I couldn’t have asked for a better medical assistant.”  Another PA heartily endorses her, noting that “she is a hard worker and great with the patients. She could easily read a situation when vital signs or an EKG were abnormal and then calmly get a provider. She always wanted to learn.” Our physician-owner feels that she is among the most capable applicants he has seen, describing her as “very hard working, conscientious, extra empathetic, and thoughtful with patient care. She is an excellent team member.”

If you have a job you hate -- PA, MA, or anything else -- it's best that you don't get to a place where you think ALL jobs of that type suck. Find a place where you can learn, contribute, and work with people who respect you. (And if you're not respected, ask yourself if your behavior has anything to do with that.) If you haven't found that yet, keep looking. In the interim, you may have to put up with a job for lots of reasons, but knowing that you'll be leaving one day should help you keep your sanity.

 

Edited by UGoLong
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