As a medical assistant, understanding how to administer specialty exams and procedures is important. Some of the procedures will be performed solely by the medical assistant and some will involve acting as assistant to the medical specialist. Some of the specialist exams, procedures and testing include allergen exams, cardiology exams, radiography and imaging exams, dermatology exams, endocrine exams, gastrointestinal exams and orthopedic exams.
Allergy Exams & Testing
During an allergy exam, the medical assistant will start by documenting the patient’s medical history. The skin test involves introducing suspected allergens onto the skin. Any reaction is observed and assessed by the medical assistant. The medical assistant will educate the patient on allergy avoidance and medications that will help reduce the symptoms of allergens. There are three main tests that are commonly performed in the allergist’s office including the scratch test, the intradermal test and the patch test.
The Scratch Test – a test for specific allergies. The suspected allergens are applied to the patient’s skin. The test involves a control solution to compare for allergic reaction. After the solution is applied, the skin is scratched to allow the solution to penetrate the skin. The physician will interpret the scratch test results.
Intradermal Test – a test for specific allergies administered with a fine-gauge needle. The allergic reaction may only take 30 minutes to develop.
Patch Test – the medical assistant will place a paper patch on unbroken skin and a dropper is used to soak the patch with the suspected allergen.
The medical assistant will administer an EKG, stress test or Holter monitor test under the supervision of a physician.
Electrocardiogram (EKG) - The EKG is one of the most valuable diagnostic tools for evaluating the electrical pathways through the heart. An EKG is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse travels through the heart, and the wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. The EKG can measure how fast the heart beats and how well the chambers conduct electrical energy.
Stress Test – recording of the EKG while the patient is exercising. This test helps measure the patient’s response to a heavier workload. The medical assistant will make sure the EKG is properly maintained and calibrated.
Holter Monitor – an EKG device that includes a digital or cassette recorder to allowing readings over a specific period of time. The Holter monitor records the heart activity for 24 or more hours.
Radiography and Imaging Exams
Radiography and imaging techniques are used in cardiology. The medical assistant will prepare and educate the patient for a specialist that will perform X-rays, ultrasound or MRI under the supervision of a physician.
X-Ray – produces a controlled beam of radiation to create an image of the inside of the body. Chest X-rays can reveal cardiac conditions.
Ultrasound – tests the body’s main blood vessels for conditions including weakened vessel walls or blocked arteries. The medical assistant or ultrasound specialist uses a handheld probe to transmit sound waves through the skin and are reflected by the blood cells moving through the blood vessels.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – diagnostic procedure that uses strong magnets and radio waves to produce images of the heart.
A dermatologist focuses on the visible top layer of the entire surface of the skin. They may be assisted by a medical assistant to take medical history, prepare the patient for examination, maintain equipment used to test the skin and preserve patient privacy with proper draping.
Whole-Body Skin Examination – the dermatologist examines the visible top layer of the entire surface of the skin. The dermatologist uses a magnifying lens and bright light to look for lesions. The medical assistant prepares the patient by assisting them to a proper position before the examination of the skin. During the exam, the medical assistant will keep the patient comfortable and properly drape the patient for their privacy.
Wood’s Light Examination – use of an ultraviolet lamp to inspect the patient’s skin.
Endocrine Exams and Tests
During an endocrine exam, the medical assistant will take a medical history that includes the patient’s skin condition, weight and cardiac function. During the exam, the endocrinologist will use X-rays and iodine scans to test the thyroid, testicles and ovaries. Ultrasound may be administered to view glands and detect tumors. Urine and blood may be tested for the presence of glucose or hormones.
The gastroenterologist exams the patient’s GI tract including the mouth, the abdomen, the lower thorax, lower sigmoid colon, the rectum and the anus. The medical assistant will prepare the patient and create a comfortable atmosphere during the exam. They will also educate the patient to arrange for a ride after the examination and to avoid eating until the local anesthetic has been eliminated from the body.
Endoscopy – a scope is used to visually inspect a canal or cavity within the body. Endoscopy can be used to diagnose tumors, ulcers, and structural abnormalities.
- Peroral Endoscopy – inserting a scope into the patient’s mouth.
- Colonoscopy – inserting a colonoscope through the anus to view the large intestine. The colonoscopy can be used to diagnose the cause of diarrhea, constipation, bleeding or lower pain in the abdomen. A colonoscopy is also used to screen patients over 50 for colon cancer.
- Proctoscopy – examination of the lower rectum and anal canal. This exam can be used to detect hemorrhoids, polyps, fissures, fistulas, and abscesses.
Orthopedists use inspection, palpitation and diagnostic tests to assess the function of the musculoskeletal system. A medical assistant may assist the orthopedist with CT scans, MRI, angiography, myelography, diskography, arthrography and bone scans. The medical assistant will also prepare the patient for diagnostic orthopedic tests, educate patients on procedures and provide a comfortable environment for patients.
Interested in working in one of these many medical specialties? Ready to start a Medical Assistant Program? Mildred Elley offers a Medical Assistant Program that prepares students for entry-level positions in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities as a medical assistant. The Medical Assistant Program helps develop the skills necessary to excel in the healthcare industry.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a medical assistant.