Learning objective: To examine the development of a program created to increase the consistency and competence of skills demonstrated by medical assistants in our clinics.
Purpose: The purpose of this project was to examine quality of care and patient safety outcomes and effectiveness of a new medical assistant skills day which was taught for the first time in January 2022.
Description: The provision of quality and safe patient care is required of all licensed and unlicensed personnel. While education about patient safety has become a standard in nursing school curricula, the same educational approach is not consistently embedded in the curriculum of medical assistants (MAs). Both newly hired and established MAs come to ambulatory care clinics with varying levels of knowledge, experience, and competence. The medical assistant skills day was created to increase MA skills consistency and competence, therefore, increasing quality of care and patient safety.
The educational program was planned by first identifying and soliciting input from the key stakeholders who play a crucial role in the primary care clinics. Data collected from key stakeholders highlighted inconsistencies and inaccuracies with clinic specific training and skills performance. Key stakeholders helped to identify program objectives, goals, and implementation strategies and identified immediate, intermediate, and long-term evaluation approaches. The objectives of skills day focused primarily on legal implications, incident reporting expectations, and scope of duties for MAs; MA role in patient screening versus assessment; patient care orders; in-basket management; preparation, administration, and BCMA of injections; proper hand hygiene; and process of rooming a patient, including vital signs, required screenings, and medication review.
Program planning was based on the program objectives. Practice guidelines, policies, workflows, and standards of care were identified as sources of evidence for content. Standardization of clinical skills to improve safe, quality patient care provided the framework for education. A variety of active learning strategies were used in teaching the educational content, and in conjunction with ambulatory care nursing leadership, highly experienced medical assistants were used to assist in the skills training of participants.
Outcomes: Immediate outcomes: A pre-test/immediate post-test was used to evaluate knowledge retention in this group. A ten-item multiple choice pre-test/post-test was constructed. Of the 16 MAs who participated in the initial pre-test/post-test, the average pretest score was 55% and the average immediate post-test score was 76.9%. Comments from participants will also be presented. Intermediate outcomes: A six-month post-skills day follow-up survey will be sent to all nurse managers of the participating MAs to assess current MA skill sets and whether MA skills day was perceived to improve skills. We will also compare the following data from January 2022 (pre-skills day) to 6 months post-skills day: hand hygiene compliance, blood pressure recheck compliance, barcode scanning, pain score capture, falls screening capture, depression screening capture, and suicide screening capture. Long-term outcomes: Using our original post-test, we will test MAs again at one year to evaluate knowledge retention. Next steps: Improvements in the program based on feedback and first year evaluative data will be shared with conference participants.