While medical assistants are certified as MAs, they are considered unlicensed personnel. This means that they cannot work without supervision from licensed staff members such as a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or APRN.

Each state determines the specific tasks MAs can perform with supervision. For example, the California medical board clearly outlines the tasks that an MA can and cannot do. In California, an MA may administer medications PO, SQ, or IM, but they are not allowed to administer via IV. Moreover, specific training is required before they are allowed to do so. Medication dosages must be verified by a licensed staff member as well.

In addition to the individual state requirements, employers also determine how an MA is supervised and by whom. For example, some employers may ask that licensed nurses verify medication dosages as opposed to the physician because it works better for daily operations. While each state sets forth the scope of practice guidelines for MAs, employers can utilize them for whichever tasks are needed per facility/departmental needs.

Similarly, the direct "supervisor" of an MA is determined by the employer. It could be a nurse, office manager, or physician whom the MA answers to. In other words, while individual states determine the scope of practice for an MA, the employer determines who manages the MA and ensures tasks are carried out safely, legally, and efficiently.

RELATED: Medical Assistant Programs Online

Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN

Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN

Amanda Bucceri Androus is a Registered Nurse from Sacramento, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She began her career working night shifts on a pediatric/ med-surg unit for six years, later transferring to a telemetry unit where she worked for four more years. She currently works as a charge nurse in a busy outpatient primary care department. In her spare time she likes to read, travel, write, and spend time with her husband and two children.
Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN

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