Abstract: Assessment of Immunization Training Needs for Medical Assistants (43rd National Immunization Conference (NIC))

56 Assessment of Immunization Training Needs for Medical Assistants

Tuesday, March 31, 2009: 4:25 PM
Lone Star Ballroom C3
Ann Duttera Council
Kathleen R. Miner
Tim Underhill
Donna Page
Jennifer Hamborsky
Bette Pollard

Medical assisting is one of the nation's fastest growing careers, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical assistants' duties vary but may include tasks related to immunization services.

The purpose of this assessment was to assess the immunization-related training needs of medical assistants (MAs) throughout the U.S.

A web-based instrument was developed to describe the population of MAs and to assess the immunization services tasks they perform, their experiences with immunization-related training, their future training preferences, and possible means for communicating with them. The final group of respondents included 1977 MAs.

Key findings include: Professional preparation to become a MA was varied and while MAs worked in a variety of settings, most worked in physicians' offices (71%). Immunization tasks that MAs performed often include: screening patients (74%), educating patients/parents (78%), administering vaccines (81%), record keeping (88%), and storing and handling vaccines (80%). The leading reasons MAs participated in immunization training were when a doctor or other medical staff offered training in their office (26%), when there was a change in immunization recommendations (22%), or when a new vaccine was licensed (20%). The three training topics identified by the most MAs as important include: adverse reactions or “side effects” (91%), educating patients/parents (89%), and administering vaccines (88%). MAs' preferred delivery method for future immunization trainings was as an in-service activity and preferred educational strategies include problem-based learning and case studies.

Conclusions and recommendations center on the areas of 1.) advocacy (advocate for professional preparatory standards; partner with associations; advocate for registry to collect contact information), 2.) communications (announce training availability directly to MAs; communicate training opportunities with worksite supervisors), and 3.) training (focus trainings on topics identified by MAs; develop case studies and problem-based learning activities; deliver trainings as in-services; explore strategies to offer no-cost or low-cost trainings).