By Misae Vela Brol, NP, Clinica Family Health Services; NIMAA Advisory Board member

Speaking from more than 15 years of experience as a Family Nurse Practitioner in Denver, CO, Medical Assistants (MA) are integral to the health care team and key to my success as a provider. A medical assistant properly trained in team-based care can help streamline patient care, especially when using critical thinking skills to “predict” what a provider may need for a patient prior to being seen. MAs are often the main contact point for the patient-provider relationship. An MA can help make a patient feel at ease when they are worried about their health or scared about a diagnosis. When it comes to continuity of care, this skill makes the medical assistant just as essential as a provider.

Thanks to programs like the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement (NIMAA), that recruit and train future medical assistants from the communities health centers serve, MAs often close the cultural gap between the provider and the patient, particularly in health centers serving a large immigrant population. All of this is invaluable to a successful provider-MA team. 

Over the years, I have worked with many different MAs, at times changing MAs at every patient care session. It is during those times that I realize how important it is for my MA to be both consistent and share a good relationship and rapport. When an MA and I are comfortable working together and have a mutual respect for each other, we are both able to perform at the top of our license, therefore providing the highest quality care for our patients. I rely on my MA to keep our patient flow moving, remind me when patients are due for their preventative care needs, coordinate care with our expanded team members, and ensure that the patient’s overall needs are being met.

The training provided by NIMAA helps prepare MAs to thrive in this team-based care relationship. Not only does the training focus on clinical skills, but it also emphasizes the importance of professional and patient connections. Providers, MAs, and patients all thrive when we work as a team and not individually – each is crucial to successful healthcare delivery and better health outcomes.