A patient presents at her rheumatologist’s office for a visit and is greeted by a certified medical assistant (CMA), who obtains vital signs, gathers health information and updates pertinent information that may have changed since the prior visit. The CMA is one of many healthcare providers who may be involved in the care of rheumatology patients as part of a multidisciplinary team, comprising members of different healthcare professions with specialized skills and expertise. Team members collaborate to make treatment recommendations that facilitate high-quality patient care.
Patients can be overwhelmed by the number of healthcare providers involved in their care. A patient’s confusion can have a detrimental effect on their perception of the care they receive during a visit, as well as on long-term compliance and outcomes.
Each member of the healthcare team serves an integral role in the care of the rheumatology patient. Clinics and hospital systems focus on patient engagement; therefore, helping patients understand the roles that each individual plays in the rheumatology team improves the patient experience and provides a foundation for better long-term outcomes. Many patients understand the role of the physician and nurses, but are not familiar with other roles of the rheumatology multidisciplinary team.
The Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) Practice Committee is excited to announce the addition of two healthcare member roles to the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) website: the CMA and the licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Patients can be overwhelmed by the number of healthcare providers involved in their care. A patient’s confusion can have a detrimental effect on their perception of the care they receive during a visit, as well as on long-term compliance & outcomes.
The CMA provides clinical and administrative support to the healthcare team and interacts with patients under the direct supervision of a provider. CMAs complete an accredited training program that includes human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, office practices, clinical and diagnostic procedures, and pharmacology and laboratory procedures, as well as on-the-job training.
CMAs are credentialed through a certification exam and perform such tasks as electronic medical record documentation, answering telephones, greeting patients, preparing patients for exams, taking vital signs, assisting providers with exams, drawing blood and administering medications as directed. CMAs practice in outpatient clinics and private medical practices.
The LPN provides healthcare to individuals, families and communities by providing services designed to promote health, prevent illness and achieve optimal recovery from or adaptation to health problems. LPNs complete a 12- to 18-month program in a technical school, vocational school or community college and are awarded a certificate or diploma in nursing. LPNs are licensed in the state in which they practice.
The rheumatology LPN has specialized training in rheumatic diseases and medications used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. The rheumatology LPN gathers patient health information, takes vital signs, administers medications and monitors for adverse reactions of medications, monitors for changes in clinical conditions, answers patient questions on the phone, collects specimens, performs nursing procedures as allowed by state licensure and supervises nursing assistants. LPNs work in clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities and home health agencies.
By providing patients with role-specific information and explaining who to contact with questions or concerns, patients can take an active role in the management of their health.
Brandon Young, DNP, FNP-C, RN-C, is a family nurse practitioner with North Mississippi Health Services in Tupelo.
Catherine Figueroa, BSN, RN, is a pediatric rheumatology nurse coordinator at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.