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Career Story: Medical Assistant At A Jail

Medical Assistant At A Jail

Job Title: Case Manager

Type of Company: I work for the medical services contractor at a county jail.

Education: some college courses

Previous Experience: I have been a medical assistant for 26 years and am now pursuing a nursing career.

Job Tasks: In my job, I handle all the outside appointments for the 2,000 inmates at the county jail. When they need to see an outside doctor (like an orthopedist), or when they have to be sent out for x-rays or surgery, I arrange the appointment and transport. I also have daily contact with the local hospitals if we have an inmate who is hospitalized in one of them. I call and get medical updates and relay that information to the higher-ups in the sheriff's office. There are also times when I use my medical assistant's training to help the doctor, physician's assistant and the staff nurses to take care of an inmate who needs immediate attention: an EKG for a chest pain, someone that has just had a seizure, someone who's been wounded in a fight.

I am also a CPR instructor and teach CPR to the detention staff as well as our medical staff. My job is extremely interesting and very enjoyable. I have also on occasion been over to our intake area. This is an area in the jail where the arrested are brought in from the street. After the deputies in the intake area process the prisoner, they send him over to the medical area and we have to "screen" him. We have to get a medical as well as a psychological background on them, checking for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, seizures or psychological ailments. If an inmate has medical problems, we have to notify our doctor to make sure he gets placed in the proper area and gets the right medications.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the medical end. I love to take care of people. The other good part of my job is that every day is different. There is always something new that pops up. Like yesterday we had 3 different fights that broke out in different areas throughout the day. There were different injuries involved as well. Also, when I call the hospitals to get updates on the inmate that have been there, I learn things (a new type of procedure, a new medication, an explanation of an illness that I may not be familiar with).

The worst part of my job is that we are dealing with inmates and we have to treat and release. I mean that we don't get personal with our patients like we would if we worked in the hospital or in a doctor's office.

Job Tips: Get as much medical training as possible, preferably as a LPN or RN. Being a medical assistant will allow you to work in a doctor's office, but if you get a nursing degree, you can do so much more.

Work in a hospital or doctor's office first to get the experience. There are a lot of things that can be done in a hospital that you cannot do in a jail. There are tests that are done at the hospital that help to diagnosis an illness.

Be firm, fair and consistent with each inmate. Even though they are people, they are inmates. They have done something wrong to be placed in jail.. They will try and get you to do or give them something that they know they should not have (an aspirin, paperclip, use your cell phone).

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