Purpose: The medical assistant (MA) in the genitourinary (GU) clinic at a Magnet, NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center has the ability to work effectively in a team environment but can also work as a self-motivated, highly functioning individual while in the cystoscopy procedure room. These two areas of practice make the MA role in the GU clinic both dynamic and multifaceted.
In 2017, the medical assistant team began experiencing high turnover. This made it challenging for the remaining medical assistant team members to work cohesively and safely. Our aim was to elevate the role of the MA to “top of license” in order to improve job satisfaction and retention.
Description: The nurses in the GU clinic developed a MA preceptor/RN mentor program. Each newly hired MA is paired with a MA preceptor. The MA preceptor completed a GU-provided preceptor class, which included developing skills in authentic dialogue and being comfortable with discussing feedback techniques effectively. The new MA is also paired with a RN who is an accredited preceptor. This RN acts as a mentor to the new hire and as a mentor to the MA preceptor. The RN meets with each MA separately and then together as a team to foster communication, identifies goals, and provides a solid support system throughout the orientation process.
Outcome: Our MA team has developed into a strong, competent team who has become empowered to further improve their processes. Each new MA hire that was paired with an MA preceptor has remained with the team, thus reducing the high turnover rate. When the process was implemented in September 2017, the team was down to 2 MAs. Now, in November 2019, our team has grown to 9 MAs. The MAs reported feeling more confident in their role. MA retention rate increased from 36% to 73% post-RN mentor implementation. The clinic staff reports confidence in the MA skill level.
Evaluation: The development of a MA preceptor with RN mentor orientation process for new MA staff was successful. MAs who are paired with a trained MA preceptor and a trained RN mentor report feeling more empowered in their role and demonstrate that empowerment daily through their work. They have successfully started their own initiatives to improve existing processes. The MA team makes daily assignments and adjusts it according to the clinic’s daily needs. The empowerment within this MA team has a positive impact on patients, the clinic staff, and on future hires as well.