In December of 2018, the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) renewed their efforts to spread awareness about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). According to the AAMA, “Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities. The term FASDs is used to define the range of physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can result from prenatal alcohol exposure.”
For the past four years, the AAMA has collaborated with the Mountain Plains FASD Practice and Implementation Center (Mountain Plains PIC) in a coordinated national effort to prevent FASDs. They have joined forces to better prepare Medical Assistants to “reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEPs) and intervene with patients who engage in risky or hazardous alcohol use.” Additionally, this not-for-profit initiative is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, recent funding from the CDC will allow for continued collaboration through 2022!
Check out what the AAMA had to say about this news in their December press release:
“This new collaboration, known as the Medical Assistant Practice Improvement Collaborative (MA-PIC), will build on the work started by the Mountain Plains PIC by developing, delivering, disseminating, and evaluating training and materials for Medical Assisting students and practitioners on how to conduct alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI). These activities will teach Medical Assistants to assist their overseeing providers in identifying patients’ risky drinking behaviors and provide health education to change those behaviors, especially among women of childbearing age to prevent AEPs and FASDs.”
The Importance of Medical Assistants
According to the AAMA, screening and intervention for patients drinking alcohol at unhealthy levels is more effective when Medical Assistants are a part of the healthcare team. Consider the skills and knowledge Medical Assistants have when it comes to providing patient education and prevention techniques. The AAMA lists the following as reasons why Medical Assistants could play a key role in screening for unhealthy alcohol use:
- Their high level of patient interaction
- Their vital role as liaison between patient and provider
- Their familiarity with electronic medical records/patient health history
- Their ability to connect with patients culturally and linguistically
- Their scope of practice allows them to be trained as health coaches, provide counseling and education to reinforce physician advice, and follow up with patients
Since physicians usually do not have the time for alcohol screening or brief intervention, reallocating these tasks to Medical Assistants would save them time and ultimately benefit the patient. The AAMA said it best: “To maximize efficiency, Medical Assistants can conduct screening as part of the routine patient intake, thereby increasing the chance of identifying risky drinking in patient populations. Making the provider aware of a patient’s positive screening results facilitates follow-up and can improve integrated preventive care in healthcare teams.”
Without a doubt, Medical Assistants are key players on the healthcare team. They have the unique opportunity to advance the goals of this national health initiative and help put an end to dangerous alcohol consumption.
About the Medical Assistant Program at Eagle Gate College
Are you interested in Medical Assistant training? Eagle Gate offers an MA program that can be completed in as little as 10 months! An exemplary school, Eagle Gate College is known for giving power to students and associates by teaching cutting-edge, skills-based education, and leadership and personal effectiveness skills to have the career and life they desire. They are caring professionals who empower individuals to achieve personal excellence through student-centered, market-driven education.
At Eagle Gate, current MA students learn through informative lectures and practical training. Graduates of their MA program are eligible to take the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In other words, students who have successfully completed the program will meet the educational requirements for the National Certification exam for Medical Assistants and may be eligible to sit for it. This exam is administered on campus and may be taken through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).
For more information, please contact a school representative at (801) 333-7133. Change your future with Eagle Gate!