Medical Assistants’ Critical Role in Assessing Patient Health | Career Training | The Salter School
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Medical Assistants’ Critical Role in Assessing Patient Health


vital signs medical assistantTaking vital signs involves more than meets the eye

What’s the first thing that happens when you enter a doctor’s office?

Often, someone takes your vital signs. If you’re interested in beginning a professional medical assistant training program, you’re probably aware that the person responsible for that task is a medical assistant.

But did you know that these vital-sign duties may be even more meaningful than they appear?

Professional medical assistants are doing more than using instruments to gather information for physicians. As the first practitioner many patients come into contact with during a visit to a medical facility, medical assistants are often responsible for using their skills and training to make critical first-assessments of patient health.

Let’s take a closer look at how checking vital signs is a vitally important part of a medical exam.

The first glimpse of health

The “vital” in vital signs pertains to the vital organs of the body, including the heart and lungs. They provide a window to wellness.

Measuring vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, and respiration rate, can provide important information about the state of critical body functions.

Readings outside of certain ranges may indicate the need for emergency treatment. That’s why it’s important for professional medical assistants to know the appropriate expected readings based on patients’ height, weight, and gender.

Going beyond the readings

While using instruments properly is obviously extremely important, measuring vital signs accurately involves skills above and beyond those practices.

For example, when taking a patient’s pulse, a professional medical assistant has to be aware of more than just the pulse rate. Using their specialized training, medical assistants must also assess the strength and regularity of the pulse – and then report any concerns to doctor.

When measuring blood pressure, medical assistants need to ensure that the blood pressure cuff and the stethoscope are positioned properly on a person’s arm in order to obtain an accurate reading. That involves locating the brachial pulse on the inside of a patient’s elbow, and then securing the cuff on the person’s arm with the correct level of tightness.

Medical assistants must then pay careful attention to the thumping sounds that indicate the systolic and diastolic pressure.

Accurate blood pressure readings are key to helping the physician determine whether a person is at risk for such serious conditions as heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or hardening of the arteries.

With all of these important responsibilities, you might say that medical assistants are a key part of the patient’s gateway to health and medical care.

Think you’re cut out to be a professional medical assistant? Request more information about Salter’s professional medical assistant training programs.

The Salter School Malden campus is no longer accepting new enrollments.