7 Kinds of Equipment Medical Assistants Must Learn How to Use
Medical assistants attend various kinds of training and learning sessions to help them prepare for their future professions. Aside from learning anatomy, physiology, and other theoretical aspects of patient care, medical assistants must also be adept at using specialized equipment to help diagnose, treat, and manage patients. Once they master these instruments, they’ll be ready to enter the field.
Medical Assistant Equipment You Should Know
Medical assistants need to have a thorough knowledge and use of the different tools and equipment of the job. While some medical assistants with specialized roles will have training for specific devices and instruments, these are the general ones all medical assistants must know.
Most medical clinics and hospitals use computers to maintain important documents, such as patient health records and other vital information. Medical assistants with administrative roles are expected to have a certain level of proficiency when operating computers or laptops.
Some of the applications medical assistant students should learn in addition to keeping health records include billing and coding, scheduling calendars, and resource libraries. Most training schools offer computer training for medical assistants, particularly in regards to protecting patient confidentiality.
Medical assistants also need to know how to navigate and use specialized accounting software for healthcare institutions that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Medical assistants may need to track payments and insurance coverage.
- Stethoscope and Sphygmomanometer
The stethoscope and sphygmomanometer are some of the first instruments that medical assistant students need to invest in. These items are used during their training and even more during their actual practice. While some practices use digital blood pressure monitors, the aneroid sphygmomanometer is shown to be reliable and has the advantage of being mercury-free.
In addition to getting blood pressure readings, an aneroid sphygmomanometer can also be used to compress the arm when drawing blood or inserting intravenous needles.
The stethoscope, the most recognizable tool for anyone in the medical field, has multiple functionalities. It can be used to hear the heartbeat, listen for lung sounds, and even catch stomach rumblings—all of which can offer valuable insights to help diagnose and address the patient’s concerns.
- Electrocardiography Machine
In the US, one of the leading causes of mortality is heart disease, accounting for close to 700,000 deaths in 2020.
Accordingly, medical assistants must have a basic knowledge of how to use an electrocardiography (ECG) machine, from setting up the device to the accurate placement of the leads and patches.
Spirometers are common instruments in medical clinics and doctor’s offices. This device is useful for checking the patient’s lung capacity by measuring the amount of air they can breathe in and out. In general clinics, medical assistants may be tasked to teach patients how to use the device in addition to collecting and recording the measurement of their lung capacity. A word of advice: try using the spirometer yourself. This will help you properly coach the patient.
- Needles and Syringes
As part of their roles and responsibilities, medical assistants may also need to administer medications and draw blood. As such, they need to learn how to use needles and syringes without causing any unnecessary discomfort to the patient.
- Ultrasound Machine
Since medical assistants work with various medical experts, they may be required to carry out more specialized tasks, including preparing and operating sonograms or ultrasound machines. Medical assistants should know how to turn on the device, prepare the appropriate probes, and replenish the film to print results.
Medical assistants will often be part of the team performing the initial assessment of a patient’s condition. This may involve the use of an otoscope—a device that has a built-in light, magnifying lens, and cone-shaped scope for the assessment of the ear canal and the inner ear.
These are just some of the tools and instruments that most medical assistants will encounter during their clinical practice. Most learn to use this equipment as part of getting their medical assistant diploma. Others may be introduced much later on, depending on the roles they will perform. Remember, some employers may ask applicants to demonstrate their knowledge during the interview, so it’s best to come prepared. Soon, you’ll be advancing your medical assisting career.
If you want to learn how to get a medical assistant diploma, check our program highlights.
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