Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Certified Medication Aide

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Certified medication aides, also known in some states in the U.S. as assistive medication administration personnel or medication technicians, have a clearly defined role in the allied healthcare field that is definitely worth exploring further. The overriding goal of this piece is to discuss the medication aide, including the day to day duties and responsibilities associated with this role.

Medication aides are helpful members of the allied healthcare team who assist licensed nurses in the realm of medication therapy. The primary function of the medication aide is safe administration of non-injectable over-the-counter and prescription drugs to clients, patients and residents. Medication aides work at the bedside to distribute medications to a large number of clients in a timely manner.

Medication aides are utilized extensively in certain settings, but never found in other types of workplaces. Post-acute healthcare settings such as long term care facilities, personal care group homes, correctional facilities, schools and assisted living facilities utilize medication aides regularly depending on the state. Meanwhile, medication aides are not utilized in the acute care hospital setting.

Most, but not all, states in the U.S. allow medication aides to work. In the states that do allow the use of medication aides, they are permitted to administer oral, topical, transdermal, eye and ear medicines to clients under the supervision of a licensed nurse. In addition, medication aides communicate with clients, report changes in patients’ conditions, obtain vital signs, and document their findings.

Because of pre-existing regulations in most states, the vast majority of medication aides have prior patient care work experience as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or unlicensed assistive direct care workers. To be admitted into most medication aide training programs, students must be 18 years of age or older with a high school diploma or G.E.D. and submit evidence of work experience as a CNA or direct care worker.

The educational requirements to become a medication aide differ in each state. For instance, the requirements to become a medication aide in Texas entail 140 hours of training. The 140-hour medication aide training programs in Texas are comprised of 100 hours of classroom (didactic) teaching, 30 hours of hands-on return skill demonstrations and 10 hours of clinical externship practicum.

The medication aide training classes consist of a targeted review of a number of relevant topics such as medical terminology, human body systems, effects of medication on each body system, infection control, and drug medication classifications. The goal of the medication aide program curriculum is to bestow pertinent knowledge upon students so they will be able to administer medications safely and prudently.

Individuals who graduate from medication aide programs must also pass a written medication aide examination in the state where they plan to secure employment. The medication aide state test usually contains 100 multiple choice questions on medication therapies. Students who pass the written medication aide state test receive a practice permit or state certification as a certified medication aide.

The state medication aide certification and/or practice permit allows the certified individual to work in a wide variety of healthcare settings for fairly competitive pay. In addition, the working conditions of medication aides are generally not as demanding on the body as those experienced by nursing assistants and direct care workers. For many people, a career as a medication aide is a step up.

How does a career in the healthcare industry sound? A career as a medication aide is an awesome entry point into the healthcare field. Working in the allied healthcare field as a medication aide can serve as a wondrously great foundation to any person’s occupational future. 

Legacy Healthcare Careers will soon be offering a medication aide program in the spring of 2019 at our Fort Worth area campus. Place that phone call to (682)626-5266 or the 24-hour hotline at (682)313-6404 to get more information. This is an opportunity that should not be passed up.

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Spotlight on an Obscure Healthcare Career: the Dental Nurse

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The special role of the dental nurse remains obscure in many intriguing ways. The overarching goal of this piece is to shed some light on the role and professional responsibilities of dental nurses, as well as the training and registration requirements that they must adhere to.

Dental nurses are uniquely vital team members of the healthcare career ladder who assist in all types of dentistry treatments and work in all sorts of dental specialties. The primary function of the dental nurse is to provide ancillary support to dentists as they deliver care to patients. Dental nurses work collaboratively at the chairside with dentists during the completion of oral surgeries and other procedures and treatments.

Very few licensed dental nurses are employed in the United States; thus, their role remains very shrouded in mystery to most folks who dwell in the US. In fact, many people in the US have never even heard of a dental nurse. In addition, the majority of dentists in the US prefer to use dental assistants and dental hygienists as a way to contain labor costs. After all, a dental assistant is usually less costly to hire than a nurse.

Nonetheless, dental nurses are heavily utilized in a number of other countries, especially the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Malaysia. Dental nurses are also utilized on a much smaller scale in several provinces of Canada, especially Ontario.

A dental nurse works at the chairside next to dentists as they provide ongoing care during patients’ visits. Some of the tasks that dental nurses may do include the following: obtaining health histories, taking and recording vital signs, performing assessments, applying numbing agents to patients’ gums prior to invasive treatments, administering topical fluoride, and providing postoperative education after oral surgical procedures.

Dental nurses might also be responsible for routine duties such as preparing materials, sterilizing equipment with autoclaves, reordering supplies, taking x-rays, obtaining impressions, and making sure the appropriate instruments are available to the dentist during treatments. Also, dental nurses might be responsible for clerical tasks such as answering telephone calls, scheduling appointments, and processing payments.

The minuscule number of dental offices that utilize licensed dental nurses in the US are ones that perform a large number of oral surgeries. These surgical procedures require specialized assessment and observation of sedated patients after administration of local or general anesthesia, so these dental practices may hire and use licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs) with post anesthesia care unit experience.

In other countries, most dental nurses secure employment in a variety of workplaces that include general dentistry clinics, oral & maxillofacial surgery practices or orthodontic offices. Additionally, other dental nurses can be found working for the military, dental hospitals, office management, nonprofit agencies or other public organizations.

In the UK, dental nurses must be registered. Since 2008, it has been mandatory that all dental nurses be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). In addition, it is unlawful to use the title of ‘dental nurse’ without the appropriate registration. To become a dental nurse in the UK, a prospective student can enroll in a post-secondary program at a dental hospital or school of dental nursing to obtain practical training.

Would you like to climb aboard the nursing career ladder? Well, a career as a nursing assistant is a wonderful foundation to any person’s potential future in the nursing profession. Do you have the motivation to follow through and make a career change? Do you have what it takes to rise to the challenge?

The 7-day CNA program at Legacy Healthcare Careers delivers fast-track, state-approved vocational training to become a nursing assistant in a matter of days. Place a telephone call to (682)626-5266 or the 24-hour enrollment hotline at (682)313-6404 to enroll at Legacy Healthcare Careers CNA School today! Classes are starting soon. Do not miss out on this opportunity.

Completely Online CNA Programs: A Word to the Wise

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Let’s address this complicated issue head-on: modern day life is ridiculously busy! Most busy adults are juggling employment, family time, a social life and other aspects of their lives to strike some sort of balance. These time-consuming facets of life do not leave all that much time to attend school full-time, especially in a classroom setting.

After all, who has time to sit in a classroom for several hours per day? After working hard for eight to twelve hours all day long, does any sane person really want to spend the rest of the evening or all weekend long in a classroom setting? Most people would rather be at home where they can wind down, chill out, relax, eat a home-cooked meal or spend a few precious hours with the ones they love the most.

However, many people are unsatisfied with their current jobs. Some people may even hate their jobs with a passion! Therefore, the thought of returning to school to prepare for a career change has often crossed their minds. While these folks may mentally dance with the idea of going back to school, the reality of it often involves giving up multiple evenings or weekends to spend time in a classroom. Again, who really has time for that?

Ah, but there appears to be a solution that can be integrated into peoples’ busy lifestyles: online classes! In addition, many people want to enter the nursing profession due to the potential of steady pay and abundant job opportunities, so they search the internet for online healthcare career programs that can be completed in the comfort of one’s home.

Here is a word to the wise. Regardless of any fancy advertisements you may have seen, you cannot become a nurse completely online. You cannot become a CNA completely online. In fact, no state board of nursing in existence will allow students to become nurses totally online for one very simple reason: no one can truly learn to provide hands-on nursing care to patients without actually touching any patients.

The large number of online nursing degree programs that are advertised on the internet have been designed for people who are already licensed nurses (LPN or RN). These online nursing programs allow licensed nurses to pursue higher education and earn additional nursing degrees from a college or university while keeping their full time jobs.

For instance, an RN with an associates degree can complete an online bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN). However, she first had to complete her associates of science degree in nursing (ASN) face to face in a class setting before qualifying for admission to the online BSN program. All state boards of nursing require nursing students to amass a certain number of classroom and clinical practicum hours in order to graduate.

Think about it. Would you want a nurse with no patient care experience whatsoever to take care of you or your loved ones? A nurse whose only schooling was online classes never received hands-on training in patient care. All nurses must complete a clinical practicum externship that entails spending many hours in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare settings where they learn to provide hands-on care to real patients.

It is a similar situation with nursing assistant training. For instance, the state of Texas requires prospective nurse aides to complete a 100-hour CNA program that is comprised of 60 class and return demonstration lab hours as well as 40 clinical externship hours. This clinical externship occurs in a healthcare facility where students deliver hands-on care to patients. This is how nurse aide students learn to become CNAs.

In a nutshell, completely online CNA programs do not exist, at least in the state of Texas where 100 hours of face to face instruction are required. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The goal of this piece is to help readers and prevent them from being scammed by unscrupulous online businesses that claim to offer online CNA school. If this posting helps just one student out there, it will have been worth it to us.

Do you have the motivation to change your career? The 7-day CNA program at Legacy Healthcare Careers offers state-approved career training to become a nursing assistant in approximately one week. Call (682)626-5266 to enroll at Legacy Healthcare Careers CNA School now! Classes start soon.

Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Medical Office Assistant

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A medical office assistant, also known as an administrative medical assistant or front office medical assistant, is a multifaceted allied healthcare professional whose primary function is to ensure that the front office area of physicians’ offices, clinics, medical groups and hospital units runs smoothly. A competent medical office assistant puts an array of soft interpersonal skills and hard procedural skills to use every single workday to get the job done.

Medical office assistants are vital members of the healthcare team because without their varied skill set, many healthcare settings would have difficulty managing day to day operations. In general, the medical office assistant tends to be the very first individual with whom patients, clients vendors and visitors come into contact at most physicians’ offices and clinic settings. Thus, these multi-skilled healthcare workers serve as the front line backbones of many workplace settings.

The allied health occupation of front office medical assisting has expanded greatly over the past few decades. Therefore, the role of the typical medical office assistant has also expanded to keep up with modern times.  Medical office assistants complete tasks such as scheduling patients’ appointments, greeting and checking patients and visitors in, coordinating visits with guests such as pharmaceutical representatives, and contacting vendors to reorder supplies.

Medical office assistants may also be responsible for clerical duties such as computer data entry, conducting phone interviews, verifying clients’ personal health information, obtaining signatures on new patient forms, sending faxes, compiling charts, filing paperwork, scanning documents, maintaining the orderly appearance of the reception area, and ensuring that diagnostic results reach the appropriate healthcare providers.

Depending on the policies of the specific workplace, many medical office assistants also carry out tasks that are either directly or indirectly related to monetary collection. Some of these duties may include gathering information on health insurance payer sources, processing payments in exchange for healthcare services, generating receipts, making patients aware of co-payment and/or coinsurance amounts, scanning documents such as insurance cards, and setting up payment plans.

Since the field of medical assisting entails intensive contact with people, medical office assistants need to be extremely comfortable interacting with a variety of individuals including patients, physicians, coworkers, visitors, families, vendors and others. The role of a medical office assistant necessitates effective communication skills. In addition, medical office assistants must have the ability to quickly establish trust and cooperation with the multitude of people who visit the healthcare setting on a daily basis.

Medical office assistants are employed primarily in workplaces such as clinics, multi-specialty medical group practices, acute care hospital wards, physicians’ offices, and ambulatory surgical centers. After amassing several years of experience, some medical assistants secure employment as medical office assistant instructors at trade schools, community colleges, technical colleges, and private for-profit academies.

Persons with an interest in entering this career pathway must usually have a high school diploma or G.E.D. before completing a training program in medical assisting that results in a postsecondary certificate, diploma or associate of applied science degree. Medical office assistant diploma and certificate programs are typically less than one year long. On the other hand, programs that lead to an associate of applied science degree generally take two years to complete from start to finish.

Medical office assistant career training programs are offered at several different types of postsecondary schools such as technical colleges, community colleges, trade schools, state universities, vocational schools, adult education centers, regional occupational programs and private for-profit academies.

Most employers prefer to hire medical office assistants who possess a professional certification. As a result, a number of entities will certify the medical assistant’s vast fund of knowledge. The National Healthcareer Association, the National Center for Competency Testing and the American Medical Certification Association are three different entities that offer professional certification to medical office assistants.

Furthermore, medical office assistants remain in high demand in many employment markets for the near future. Employment of medical assistants is projected to increase by approximately 29 percent through the year 2026, which happens to be much faster than the average for all occupations. Much of this job growth is driven by grand openings and expansions of doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics and multi-specialty group practices.

 

Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Phlebotomy Technician, a.k.a. Phlebotomist

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A phlebotomy technician, also referred to as a phlebotomist at times, is an allied healthcare specialist whose primary responsibilities include blood withdrawal, specimen collection and finger sticks. Phlebotomy technicians have received occupational training to ensure they have the knowledge and psychomotor skills to draw blood and obtain specimens from patients with a certain degree of accuracy.

Phlebotomy technicians are immensely important members of the healthcare team because without their hands-on procedural skills, many physicians and other types of healthcare providers would not be able to accurately diagnose and treat their patients in a timely manner. The main duty of the phlebotomy technician is to obtain patients’ blood specimens by way of venipuncture and micro techniques.

In the healthcare field, venipuncture is a term that refers to the puncture of a vein, usually to withdraw a sample of blood for testing purposes. Phlebotomy technicians perform venipuncture on a routine basis to draw blood from patients. Phlebotomy technicians also obtain blood specimens by way of micro techniques such as sticking patients’ fingers with lancet devices and using pipettes.

Since phlebotomy involves extensive contact with people, phlebotomy technicians must be comfortable interacting with patients, coworkers, vendors and other individuals. The role of a phlebotomy technician requires effective communication skills as well as the ability to establish rapport and trust with patients. Phlebotomy technicians regularly interview patients prior to drawing their blood. They might also answer phone calls.

The healthcare specialty of phlebotomy has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. Thus, the role of the phlebotomy technician has also grown to include an array of tasks that are clerical in nature such as light data entry, verification of patients’ personal health information, creating labels, filling in information on handwritten requisition forms, obtaining signatures, sending faxes, scanning documents and reordering supplies.

Depending on the place of employment, some phlebotomy technicians must also perform duties that involve financial matters. Some of these duties may include gathering info on health insurance payer sources, collecting payments in exchange for rendered services, printing receipts, notifying patients of their exact co-payment and/or coinsurance amounts, and making copies of documents such as insurance cards.

Phlebotomy technicians are employed mostly in workplaces such as acute care hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, blood bank donor collection centers, clinics, and physicians’ offices. After accruing several years of experience, some phlebotomists secure employment as phlebotomy instructors at vocational schools, community colleges and private for-profit academies. Most employers seek phlebotomists who have attained professional certification.

Patient safety is of the essence, so phlebotomy technicians must strictly adhere to all safety precautions in order to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, AIDS, and so forth. Since quality assurance, safety and accuracy must be upheld in the healthcare specialty of phlebotomy, stringent professional behavior requirements and standards of practice exist for phlebotomy technicians.

Persons interested in entering the field must have a high school diploma or G.E.D. before completing a vocational training program in phlebotomy that leads to a postsecondary certificate or diploma. Phlebotomy training programs are offered at many types of postsecondary institutions such as community colleges, state universities, vocational schools, and private for-profit academies. These programs vary in length, but most are only a few months long.

Since the majority of employers prefer to hire phlebotomists who have professional certification, many entities will certify the phlebotomy technician’s body of knowledge. The National Healthcareer Association, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the National Phlebotomy Association, the Association of Phlebotomy Technicians, and the American Medical Certification Association are five entities that offer professional certification to phlebotomy technicians.

Phlebotomy technicians are in high demand for the near future. Job openings have increased noticeably because many healthcare workplaces need to hire phlebotomy technicians for all three shifts to ensure 24-hour staffing coverage. Employment of phlebotomy technicians is projected to increase by 27 percent through the year 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Government Shutdown 2019: How Does It Impact Healthcare?

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Multiple segments of the United States federal government have been shut down since December 22, 2018 and, as of the time of this writing, it is now officially regarded as the lengthiest shutdown in the nation’s history. In fact, this particular government shutdown has been going on for 30+ days with no foreseeable end in sight due to partisanship and sharp divisions with regards to political viewpoints.

Meanwhile, the masses of furloughed government workers must anxiously contend with the uncertainty of what the near future will bring. In addition, while many government workers have not been furloughed, they are reporting to their workplaces without pay. Since a large number of these men and women exist from paycheck to paycheck, many of their families will soon experience financial hardships and a lack of money to pay household bills.

Even though the current partial government shutdown was not directly related to or a direct result of healthcare policies or programs, it does have a notable impact on several aspects of the health system in the United States. The primary goal of this nonpartisan, nonpolitical piece is to bring up a handful of the federal entities that are presently being affected by the 2019 government shutdown.

Federal entities such as the Indian Health Service, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency all possess ties to the US healthcare industry, albeit in very different ways.

The Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service, abbreviated IHS, is a governmental entity that operates within the US Department of Health and Human Services while obtaining its funding entirely via the Department of the Interior. The IHS delivers hands-on healthcare and implements public health service initiatives for descendants of federally recognized Native American tribal people, as well as Native Alaskan people.

Clinics operated by the IHS are still open and treating patients. However, the healthcare workers who staff these clinics currently report to work without pay. The unpaid federal employees who are working without pay include physicians, nurses, midlevel healthcare providers (physician assistants, nurse practitioners, midwives, clinical nurse specialists), medical office assistants, and other staffers who have been deemed ‘essential personnel.’

Furthermore, the IHS has temporarily halted all activities that have been regarded as nonessential. For instance, the IHS preventative health clinics operated by the Office of Urban Indian Health Programs are upheld by grants that have been suspended until the government shutdown comes to an end. In addition, monetary grants that sustain various tribal health programs have also been placed on hold until further notice.

The Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration, referred to as the FDA for short, is another federal agency with close ties to the US healthcare industry. Even though the FDA falls under the large sphere of of the US Department of Health and Human Services, this very important agency receives the entirety of its operational funding through the US Department of Agriculture.

Here’s the problem…the US Department of Agriculture has not yet been funded as a result of the government shutdown. Consequently, many operational divisions within the FDA are now not funded. Thus, nearly half of the individuals who work for the FDA have been furloughed. The FDA is responsible for carrying out multiple tasks that involve health and safety such as routine food inspections, pharmaceutical drug approvals, and regulation of tobacco products and cosmetics.

The Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency, known as the EPA, is an independent agency of the federal government entrusted with a number of important responsibilities and programs that directly tie into public health and safety. Some of these responsibilities include ensuring the drinking water that citizens consume is safe, regulating insecticides, and managing the disposal of hazardous waste products.

The EPA is presently unfunded due to the government shutdown. As a result, an incredibly tiny skeleton crew of about 700 EPA employees have been reporting to work without pay. Meanwhile, more than 13,000 EPA workers have been furloughed due to the lack of funding. Because of the vast number of furloughed EPA employees, the health and safety activities usually carried out by them are not being completed at full capacity.

 

 

 

Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Personal Care Assistant

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Personal care assistants, also known as direct care workers, personal care attendants, direct care staff, home care aides, paid caregivers, healthcare assistants, carers, home health or personal care aides, are allied healthcare workers who provide hands-on assistance to clients who are not able to help themselves.

The clients of personal care assistants are often unable to help themselves due to a wide variety of reasons that might include lengthy illness, cognitive or mental impairment, acute injury, physical disability, advanced age, weakness or fragility. Other clients may be rendered unable to care for themselves due to intellectual and developmental disabilities, limited mobility, paralysis, debility or congenital handicaps.

Personal care assistants typically work in the home setting and assist their clients with various activities of daily living, such as showering, bathing, toileting, feeding, grooming, and taking medications. Personal care assistants may also be responsible for other tasks such as meal preparation, light housekeeping duties, and companionship.

In addition to the aforementioned tasks, personal care assistants might also assist their clients in the instrumental activities of daily living that help ensure households run smoothly. These instrumental activities can include the provision or arrangement of transportation, physicians’ appointments, ensuring clients take their medications, and other duties. Personal care assistants often serve as companions to their clients.

Most personal care assistants are employed by home care agencies to report to the homes of clients, while some personal care assistants are hired directly into private duty cases by clients or family members of the client. Likewise, some personal care assistants are employed by personal care group homes, assisted living facilities and independent living complexes where they often report directly or indirectly to a licensed nurse.

The typical personal care assistant tends to work long hours. Their role can be physically demanding on occasion due to lifting requirements and extended periods of time spent in a standing position. Nonetheless, this healthcare career can be very fulfilling due to the profound sense of purpose many workers derive after helping people who cannot help themselves. Providing companionship to clients can be invigorating.

The majority of personal care assistants have earned a minimum of a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED) certificate, but this level of education is not required by all employers. Sometimes the training for the personal care assistant role is done on the job by licensed nurses or other assistants with more experience.

The on-the-job training typically provided to personal care assistants is comprised of safety information, response to common emergency issues, and other duties specific to the home or employer. Additional training topics may include proper body mechanics, self-care techniques, and ways to deal with difficult client behaviors.

A number of states may require personal care assistants to complete more formalized occupational training from an adult education center, vocational school, nurse aide training academy, community college program or other home health entity. Also, certification is mandated for all personal care assistants who work for companies that receive reimbursements and payments from the Medicare or Medicaid programs.

A healthcare career as a personal care assistant opens the doors to wonderful attributes such as steady income and job security. The Baby Boomer generation is aging and becoming elderly; therefore, personal care assistant job openings will increase at a speedy pace in the foreseeable future. Personal care assistant job openings are projected to increase by 69 percent, much faster than the average of all other occupations.