The Fearless RMA: Multi-skilled Care

Others may hesitate, but a registered medical assistant (RMA) does not flinch when faced with challenges that arise in the everyday practice of patient care.

RMAs are not intimidated by

  • Needles and injections
  • Point-of-care testing or ECG instruments
  • Bodily fluids
  • EHR system quirks
  • Endless abbreviations
  • Crying babies or coughing elders
  • Converting mg. to tsp.
  • Multiple insurance forms and ICD codes

While those are just some examples of the areas of competency of the multi-skilled RMA, most importantly, this hands-on assistant also does it with care and professionalism.

To earn the right to call oneself a certified RMA, each individual has passed a rigorous exam to earn the respected credential. And to keep the certification current, each RMA must maintain medical assisting competencies through on-going activity.

Here’s a list of competencies* you can expect from a Registered Medical Assistant to help provide the professional care that serves patients well:

Administrative skills

  • Telephone skills for receiving incoming calls and making outgoing calls to meet patient needs.
  • Knowledge of appointment scheduling protocols for acute or urgent visits and skilled in the technology for scheduling
  • Capability to review appropriateness of the daily patient schedule and take corrective action as necessary (i.e. if the appointment is for review of labs, but no lab results are available, reschedule the patient with instructions to obtain labs).
  • Patient registration in the practice management system including capturing insurance information.
  • Understanding insurance protocols and regulations for properly scheduling lab and diagnostic procedures for patients and obtaining authorization and referrals (verifying the patient is eligible for the service under their insurance plan) per physician orders.
  • Fluent in the technology of the practice (telephone and voicemail system, auto- attendant and call transfer, practice management and EHR, insurance eligibility, e-fax, scanning documents into appropriate systems and files, ancillary systems for order and result processing at affiliated diagnostic and hospital systems).

Clinical skills

  • Understanding that the priority is the check-in, rooming, and discharge of the patients with the goal to keep providers on schedule.
  • Capability to capture the patient history, verification of medications, take vitals, and record the reason for visit during the rooming process and prepare the patient for a physical exam or procedure.
  • Administer injections per physician orders.
  • Enter orders into the computer system, as directed by the physician.
  • Perform certain laboratory tests.
  • Schedule follow up appointments for patients as a component of patient visit discharge.
  • Prepare exam rooms daily and turn over exam rooms for each patient visit.
  • Sterilize medical equipment.
  • Dispose of contaminated supplies.
  • Perform phlebotomy services as ordered by the physician.
  • Perform electrocardiograms, suture removal, and change dressings.
  • Educate patients regarding discharge instructions, medication dosing protocols, and treatment plan, providing face-to-face coaching.

And these are just the baseline competencies of an RMA; once certified, AMT RMA members continue to grow their technical and communication skills on the job and through on-going requirements for maintaining certification. This helps them stay ready to face whatever new challenges arise in the ever-changing world of medical practices.

To see more about the profession of medical assisting, check out the Medical Assistant Profile. To see what medical assistants need to know to pass the RMA certification exam, see the RMA exam content outline.

*this list excerpted from Physician’s PracticeThe Impact of a Medical Assistant in the Practice.


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