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Should Patients Be Required to Show Picture IDs?

Whenever I use my credit card, I always keep my driver’s license close at hand because I know I’m going to have to prove that it’s my bill I’m racking up. When stores required their cashiers to check IDs about five years ago, I also remember other customers complaining about this new process. I thought it was a great idea because I knew it was protecting my accounts. Now several hospitals are adopting this same procedure and medical assistants may be required to ask for patient identification.

Cynthia Mccormick of the Cape Cod Times writes about a controversy that has arisen because of this new procedure. When registering for an appointment at her doctor’s office, patient Dianna Morton had her picture taken by a medical assistant without her permission. The camera was linked to her medical record to ensure the patient’s identity and to reduce insurance fraud. “Morton is changing doctors, citing a violation of her privacy rights. She says she was never asked to present a driver’s license and was not given a choice about whether she wanted her photo taken.”

“People’s privacy is really being violated and people are going along with the program without questioning it,” states Morton.

Okay, so I can see both sides of the story here. I would want to give permission for my picture to be taken and I would expect an explanation of why it was being done. I would also be wary of security concerning who has access to these records and how code embedded are they so they won’t be hacked into or stolen. (However, the DMV has our pictures and contact information and I’ve never really given it a second thought.) On the flip side, I totally understand the need for doctors and insurance companies to protect their funds from fraud. It also protects the patient just as if someone stole a credit card.

Mccormick writes that a “Kaiser report says medical identity theft accounts for 1.3 percent to 3 percent of all stolen identity crimes.” However, Pamela Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Foundation in San Francisco comments that medical identity theft is usually an inside job, and the attachment of photos to medical records could make identify theft that much easier to commit.

So should patients show picture IDs and do those getting medical assisting training have a new task at hand? I think that this will be a trend in the future. I don’t know if having a picture attached to medical records is the right answer, but I do think flashing a driver’s license is a good idea.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

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Spotlight on Medical Assistants

I blew it.1 I need to do a shout-out apology to all you students getting Medical Assisting training. Last week was Medical Assistants Recognition Week and I was negligent in mentioning it. Well, here is my tribute to you.

Medical Assistants are on the frontlines every day as the guardians of the doctors’ offices. They make appointments, take care of co-pay transactions, take patients’ vitals, interpret chicken scratch notes written by distracted doctors, and brave sniffling, sneezing bacteria carriers every winter. Not only do they have to be adept at fax machines and complex computer programs, but they also have to act with grace while wearing pajamas and ugly shoes. Bravo!

In the Tahlequah Daily Press, staff writer Teddye Snell highlights the importance of Medical Assistants to the healthcare industry.2  “‘Medical Assistants are essential for an office medical practice in today’s world,’ said Dr. Paul Hobbs, M.D., for Tahlequah Medical Group. ‘They are specially trained to make our jobs easier.’”

Not only do Medical Assistants regulate doctors’ offices, but they are also vital in many specialty fields. Snell explains, “Medical Assistants are also used in specialty fields, including orthopedics, podiatry, and ophthalmology.”

“‘Several specialties specifically train staff to perform various tasks and procedures,’ said Valerie Rogers, chief nurse executive at Cherokee Nation Hastings Hospitals. ‘To become a certified Medical Assistant, formal training is required, although many Medical Assistants undergo on-the-job training from the physician, and work for many years and function extremely well. In the hospital setting, we have a few certified Medical Assistants, although they function in the role of a nursing assistant.’”

Snell also interviewed a current MA, Amber Camp, who works for the Tahlequah Medical Group. Camp gives this advice: “It’s important you have good people skills… More often than not, the people you deal with aren’t feeling well, and may not be on their best behavior. You have to be pleasant, and do your best to put them at ease. You can’t be squeamish, either. This isn’t a job for you if bodily fluids bug you.” Camp further adds that it’s important to get a good education. “There is so much you have to learn, including testing, lab results, etc., and it’s important you have a working knowledge of these things. I’m a quick study, but it’s best to stay in school.”

So thank you, all you current and aspiring Medical Assistants. Without you our medical costs would go up, our doctor’s appointments would take longer, and we’d be even more nervous when our kids get sick or hurt.

Medical Assistant Training at Unitek College

While some choose Medical Assisting as a lifelong career, others use it to gain invaluable experience and help them enter other careers. Even though individual goals may differ, Medical Assistants provide a vital service and ultimately better the community around them.

At Unitek College, we seek to prepare students for entry-level employment as Medical Assistants through our Medical Assisting program. Above all else, we strive to be accessible and inclusive, and we are eager to help others take charge of their future.

Currently, Unitek maintains six campuses in Northern California and one in Southern California. All of these locations offer a comprehensive Medical Assisting program which can be completed in as little as 9 months. For more information about Unitek’s Medical Assistant program, please choose your desired campus and find their contact information here.



1 This Unitek blog post was originally published on October 25, 2011.

2 To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

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Medical Assistant Jobs on the Rise

If you are currently getting medical assisting training, you are on the right track. According to a recent report published by the government’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics, medical assistant jobs are growing at an amazing rate.

According to a press release from, “Jobs as a medical assistant will be on the rise according to statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The statistics show that employment of medical assistants should grow 34% FROM 2008 through 2018. According to a spokesperson for this unprecedented growth is much faster than the average of all occupations. The reason for the growth has to do with the aging US population and technological advances in medicine. Major health concerns such as diabetes and obesity will become more prevalent in years to come.

“The spokesperson of goes on to say ‘increasing number of clinics and healthcare facilities are going towards combining administrative and clinical positions into one position. This will become a more common practice in the coming years on a nationwide scale.’ The projection data shows that in 2008 there were 483,600 medical assistants employed in the United States. In 2018, they expect it to be 647,500.”

62% of medical assistants work in physician offices performing administrative and clinical duties varying from scheduling appointments to asking patients for their medical history. “Medical assistant job duties may vary widely depending on the type of work environment, number of employees and volume of patients. In some small offices a medical assistant may be responsible for both administrative and clinical duties, while in hospitals and larger offices, his duties may be more specific,” explains the website

From my experience, medical assistants set the tone for the clinic or hospital since they are the first people that the patients come into contact with. I have a great primary physician and he has hired some great and some not so great MA’s. The ones that are my favorite are competent, friendly, confident and knowledgeable; when I call for an appointment or to get additional paperwork, I always ask for them by name! They also remember my name, my history, and treat me as an individual.

Now is the perfect time to enter the medical field. There are some great nursing programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and you can start the path to a great future today!

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit