Today’s ever-evolving healthcare industry requires versatile, adaptable healthcare workers. To meet that need, some institutions are upskilling medical assistants (MAs) and transitioning them to more complex roles in ambulatory cancer clinics. In an April 25, 2024, poster presentation at the 49th Annual ONS Congress®, ONS members Tara Delgrippo, RN, MSN, NE-BC, OCN®, and Sarah Porzig, MSN, RN, OCN®, described the process at their institution.

Education, collaboration, and technology were key to integrating upskilled MAs into the ambulatory care setting, Delgrippo and Porzig said. They used comprehensive training programs to equip MAs with the knowledge and skills needed in an enhanced role, including:

  • Expanded clinical responsibilities
  • Increased patient communication and outreach
  • Use of electronic health records
  • Participation in electronic patient management solutions

Through collaboration among physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, Delgrippo and Porzig’s team seamlessly transitioned MAs to enhanced roles. They said that the keys to success were establishing clear roles and responsibilities as well as supporting effective communication among team members. The team created a timeline to support MAs in acquiring new skills that involved technologic and hands-on tasks and involved members of the interprofessional care team and supportive departments.

After evaluating the initiative, the team found that integrating upskilled MAs into ambulatory clinics streamlined workflows, enhanced patient care, improved patient satisfaction, reduced physician workload, and enhanced clinic efficiency. They also outlined a plan to provide ongoing education to mitigate potential skill gaps and support change.

“The integration of upskilled MAs into ambulatory clinics is a promising development in health care, offering improved access to care and more efficient operations,” the speakers concluded. “At this current time, the landscape for MA roles in ambulatory care emphasizes the importance of adapting to meet the changing needs of healthcare delivery.”