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As soon as Jasmine Rodriguez, CMA, clocks in she is on the go. As a medical assistant she is trained to take on both clinical and administrative duties. As lead at the UW Neighborhood Shoreline Clinic, she is also in charge of overseeing the medical assistants that are staffed for that day.

With her range of responsibilities, every day for Rodriguez is different.

“I never know what I am going to walk into when I get into work,” says Rodriguez.

Growing demand

Medical assistants are in high demand. According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in medical assisting are growing at a much faster rate than the average for all occupations.

At the Shoreline Clinic, anywhere from seven to nine medical assistants are staffed each day. They work with providers to assist with checkups, procedures and administrative work.

“Sometimes patients need a hand to hold or the provider needs us to hand them instruments,” says Rodriguez. “And sometimes we catch potential errors, like when a patient schedules a request for a service that maybe this physician doesn’t provide.”

Rodriguez says that one misconception about medical assistants is their scope of work.

“Our scope is more broad than people tend to think,” she says.

Medical assistants do everything from administering vaccines and injections to greeting patients in the waiting room and facilitating efficient visits.

Creating connections

Rodriguez describes her job as the bridge between a patient checking in and seeing their provider. Medical assistants are an integral part of the patient experience. They help set up the patient and provider for a successful visit.

“We like to get to know the patients on a personal level and to make their experience as happy as possible,” says Rodriguez. “We remember the patient and their needs to make it a smoother experience for them.”

And for Rodriguez, getting to know patients is the best part of her job.

“For me, it’s when we see people for their first pregnancy visit and then you see their family grow,” says Rodriguez. “Or it’s when a patient who was in an unstable condition gets better.”

Adapting to COVID-19

Between seeing new patients, working with different providers and taking on both clinical and administrative tasks, medical assistants have to be flexible.

Rodriguez’s ability to easily pivot in her responsibilities was in high demand when her clinic opened up as a COVID-19 testing site.

“Some of the time we were outside in PPE swabbing patients,” says Rodriguez. “And we were also still doing our regular jobs, just over the phone.”

Rodriguez’s clinic streamlined telemedicine quickly. She says that planning out the communications process to go virtual helped the team discover improvements in how they were delivering patient care.

The clinic now provides both in-person and virtual visits.

“I think everyone has been pushing through all of the changes, and people forget to give themselves kudos in these types of situations,” says Rodriguez. “We all bravely come in, we make it work and we do it while having a good time.”