A Nurse in a Box

The doc in the box healthcare clinic is a new and innovative type of medical facility that is finding its way into a number of pharmacies and grocery stores these days—and into the hearts of a number of patients who visit these clinics in search of quick fixes for everything from flu bugs to minor sprains.

This unique category of medical center also holds great appeal for the administrators who own and run them, and for the doctors and nurses who are actually on site at the clinics; caring for and addressing the needs of patients on a daily basis. Yet is there a place for a medical assistant—or, for that matter, a newly minted nurse who may not yet be a RN—in a doc in a box?

Due to the size, the restricted hours, and the limited (although still numerous) services offered at a doc in the box, some people assume that it is the sole domain of a single medical professional; a doctor or nurse who runs the whole medicine show, so to speak. The fact is, though, that medical assistants definitely have a place in every medical office—even those that fit in ‘a box.'

When one visits a doc in the box clinic, chances are that the first person they talk to will not be the doctor or nurse who examines them and administers their care that day. First he/she will complete a detailed intake process; one that, in most cases, will be administered by a nursing aide. This trained professional will ask them everything from their name and address to the symptoms they are experiencing that day, to the intricate details of their medical history.

After all, even in the case of a minor sprain or a common cold, the attending physician will need to know if the problem is chronic (perhaps the symptom of a more serious or long term condition), if the patient has any medicine allergies, if their overall state of health is positive and sound, etc. Yet with the number of patients who pass through the doors of these clinics on a typical day, he/she will not have time to quiz everyone about the particulars of their lives and medical histories.

This is where a trained nurse or medical assistant enters the picture; a skilled and compassionate professional who can offer a warm smile and friendly welcome to someone who probably isn't feeling that well, all the while questioning them about the specifics of their case.

This ‘nurse or medical assistant in a box' serves another vital function as well, in that he/she will be responsible for coordinating a patient's payment for the visit. He/she will take the patient's insurance card, recording all relevant information regarding the name of their insurance company, their policy number, and the type of plan that they maintain. Ultimately, it is the medical assistant who will determine how much the patient pays that day, or how much they will be billed for at a later date.

As is the case at most medical facilities, one can't have a doc without a nurse; so if you are a medical assistant looking for a position at a smaller clinic, be sure to think outside the box—or, more precisely, within it!

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