Yes, Medical Assistants Can Help Restore Physicians Joy of Medicine | Geneia

Yes, Medical Assistants Can Help Restore Physicians' Joy of Medicine

July 23, 2015
Heather Lavoie, Chief Strategy Officer, Geneia


In the words of one of the physicians who participated in Geneia’s national survey, “The Joy of Medicine is spending time with patient and family in treating the patient. But the biggest obstacle is that doctors are being asked to do more and more...clerical work that takes away this time.”

Geneia’s survey and its Physician Misery Index confirmed the research of Dr. Christine A. Sinsky and the RAND Corporation—an important source of physician frustration stems from too much time spent on tasks such as data-entry that do not require their education and skills. Dr. Sinsky’s research, In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices, found, “Those who practice adult primary care are often deeply dissatisfied, spending much of their days performing functions that do not require their professional training.”[1]

Similarly, a RAND Report prepared for the American Medical Association, Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems, and Health Policy, reported, “In general, physicians described better satisfaction when their work content matched their training and dissatisfaction when they were required to perform work that other staff could perform.”[2]

In today’s parlance, we talk about others on the Care Team working to the “top of their license” in order to take on expanded roles and tasks that do not require the physician’s direct involvement. In other words, it means nurses, physician’s assistants and medical assistants practicing to the full extent of their education and training, instead of spending time doing something that could be effectively done by someone else.

In our experience, we’ve found that non-physician members of the Care Team often benefit from additional training to take on new responsibilities. Sometimes they need different skills such as motivational interviewing to effectively engage patients in their health; for others, they need to understand the context of all the changes in healthcare.

That’s why we created The Geneia Institute. In short, The Geneia Institute provides skills-based education and training to clinicians and healthcare leaders to allow them to work to the top of their license. That’s the right approach to help restore the Joy of Medicine to today’s physicians.

During the month of July, one of our most popular courses, Evolving with the System: The Changing Role of the Medical Assistant in Team-Based Care, is being offered for free. This six-lesson, self-paced e-Learning course teaches patient engagement skills to medical assistants; it’s also helpful to the nurses who supervise them.

I learned how important it is to effective care to get patients talking about themselves, their health, and their health challenges. Until I completed this course, I was using ‘yes-no’ questions with my patients, and now I know the importance of open-ended questions. In short, I need to act more like a detective and listen closely to my patients to uncover their health issues.

Becky Kindel, RN

Parkview / Clinical Supervisor

Visit Geneia’s online learning center to register for this course.







 [1] Sinsky, Christine A., MD et al, In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices, Annals of Family Medicine, May/June 2013.

[2] RAND Report, Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems, and Health Policy, 2013.


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