The Evolving Role of Medical Assistants in Primary Care Practice: Divergent and Concordant Perspectives from MAs and Family Physicians

Product type: publication in Medical Research and Review October 19, 2020.

Authors: Erin Fraher, PhD, MPP, Allison Cummings, MD, Dana Neutze, MD, PhD


  • Medical assistants (MAs) are a flexible and low-cost resource for primary care practices and their roles are swiftly transforming.
  • We surveyed MAs and family physicians in primary care practices in North Carolina to assess concordance in their perspectives about MA roles, training, and confidence in performing activities related to visit planning; direct patient care; documentation; patient education, coaching or counseling; quality improvement; population health and communication.
  • For most activities, we did not find evidence of role confusion between MAs and physicians, physician resistance to delegate tasks to properly trained MAs, or MA reluctance to pursue training to take on new roles.
  • Three areas emerged where the gap between the potential and actual implementation of MA role transformation could be narrowed—population health and panel management; patient education, coaching, and counseling; and scribing.
  • Closing these gaps will become increasingly important as our health care system moves toward value-based models of care.

Read the full paper here.