Medical assistant helps train resident physicians at clinical site
Todd Magee, CMA (AAMA), not only works alongside physicians at Concord Hospital Family Health Center in New Hampshire, but also helps train medical residents.
“Our clinic is a clinical training site for the New Hampshire Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency, so our medical assistants have a unique opportunity to help train the doctors as they’re going through it,” says Magee. “While the doctors know how to treat patients, we’re getting them accustomed to how the office flows, showing them how to use our computer systems and enter orders, and teaching them about our patient population.”
The clinic serves primarily under- and uninsured people in the area, from newborns to the elderly. “We have a lot of people who live in poverty and a huge refugee population who come from Nepal [as well as] Central and East Africa,” says Magee. The clinic serves approximately 14,000 patients, of which about 10 percent are refugees, he says.
“Many of our patients have financial and social stressors, as well as mental health issues, so it’s great to be here for them when they have no other place to go,” says Magee. “We’re not focused on their ability to pay. We’re here to do what we can for their wellness.”
The clinic offers care for a wide variety of conditions, including acute and chronic illnesses, and covers a gamut of specialties ranging from internal medicine to obstetrics and gynecology. “We also have a dental clinic, a walk-in clinic, and a full wing of behavioral health specialists who help us with psychosocial issues,” adds Magee. Physicians also perform minor procedures, such as toenail removals, mole removals, incision and drainage procedures, and even vasectomies, which medical assistants provide assistance with.
Magee works in one of three primary pods in the clinic, working alongside 10 physicians, three registered nurses, and five other medical assistants. As the lead medical assistant of his pod, he trains new medical assistants on the day-to-day of the job. “We have a pretty intense training program for medical assistants because I have to make sure they’re aware of how all our systems and processes work, not only so they can perform them but so they can also show resident physicians how to perform them,” he says.
The resident physician training takes three years, which presents a unique opportunity for medical assistants. “When patients come to our facility they may get a new doctor every year, so there’s a little bit of a lack of continuity with physicians,” he says. Medical assistants help maintain that continuity, he adds. “When the doctors take over a patient, they may know nothing about them, but since I’ve been here for 10 years, chances are I’ve been that person’s medical assistant for years. I often help inform the doctor about [the patient’s history] and what they struggle with financially and socially. I’m that bridge between the patient and doctor so we can provide continuity of care.”
Developing relationships with patients is Magee’s favorite part of the job. “I really get to know them on a more personal level than I think I would in most typical practices,” he says. “This is what keeps me going every day and makes my job interesting. We always come across new things with the patient population that challenge us to find new ways to help the community.”
Magee recalls one particular patient whose husband passed away, and whose physician was also leaving the clinic. “Not only was she grieving, but also she had to worry about a whole new health care team,” says Magee. “We had developed a relationship over the years, and I reassured her that we’d treat her just as well as we had in the past, even though she’d have a new doctor. She still comes to our clinic and is appreciative of all the work our team does for her. Connecting with patients in this way is really what it’s all about for me.”