How to Use Your Medical Assistant Effectively

If there's one thing I've become an expert at since having a baby, it's been getting HELP. I've explored options for outsourcing household chores, work related tasks (did you notice that MidlevelU is hiring!) and am utilizing assistance in my nurse practitioner role at the hospital more than ever. I no longer have the luxury of seemingly unlimited time and energy on my side. While at times this new reality can be frustrating, it has made me decidedly more efficient. I'm making better use of the resources available to me. 

What I'm experiencing right now in my personal life, nurse practitioners face all the time professionally. We find ourselves staying late at work, charting at home, and tired out from our workloads while we're on duty. Fortunately, most of our practices do give us access to a support team. I find, however, that nurse practitioners don't do so well when it comes to utilizing this assistance. 

Making the most of your support team as a nurse practitioner requires intentionality. It may mean you start to do things a little differently than some of your colleagues. And, that's OK - if your ways are effective, they'll start to follow. If you could use a break on the job, here are 5 ways to better utilize your medical assistant. 

1. Schedule team meetings

If you never take time to touch base in a formal sense with your medical assistant or other support staff, things slide, mistakes mount, and eventually your team gets off track. Set a brief period of time where you meet with your support staff to discuss recent wins, accomplishments and frustrations. Use this time to get on the same page about new or refined policies and procedures. Hint: a 10 minute check-in at the start of each morning also insures everyone makes it to work on time. 

2. Delegate  

Chances are that as a nurse practitioner you're taking on some responsibilities that could be delegated to a nurse or medical assistant. The best use of your time is to practice at the top of your license. That is, to only take on responsibilities that cannot be done by another staff member in your practice. Think through your day-to-day tasks. Which of these things could someone else takeover?

3. Put things in writing

Frustrating but true, we tend to forget things, especially when we're hurriedly given instructions in the middle of the workday. So, write things down. Any system or process that needs to be done repeatedly in your practice should be in writing and easily accessible to your MA. For example, create checklists so your medical assistant doesn't forget to bring certain supplies into the room when setting up for a procedure. Or, write down the steps to check in a patient with a certain chief complaint. This also saves you valuable time. Rather than answering questions, you can refer staff to written documents instead of re-explaining yourself. 

4. Take time to teach 

Along the lines of my last tip, if you don't take the time on the front end to teach your support staff, you won't tap into the resource that these individuals are. Sure, teaching takes time and can be difficult to do in the middle of a busy shift, but by teaching and training medical assistants and nurses, they become a more valuable resource. Create time to help them develop their skill sets. 

5. Give feedback 

Everyone appreciates a little encouragement for doing their job well. And, no one improves without being told how to get better. In order to get more out of your team and utilize them to their fullest potential, you'll need to share both positive and negative feedback. Telling someone how to do their job effectively is essential for getting results. While this might feel uncomfortable at first, keep in mind that your medical assistants want to do a good job and work as part of an effective team. Good communication is essential to accomplish this. 

 

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