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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Who's Who at the Doctor's Office

Your trip to a new doctor's office can be confusing. You can make the most of your visit by learning the roles of the people who work there.

You're likely to meet some of the following people during your office visit. These descriptions are general. Jobs and duties may differ, depending on the size of the office and the doctor’s specialty.

Medical assistant: After you’ve checked in, a medical assistant may show you to an examination room. They may check your height, weight, and blood pressure. They also will note your symptoms and pass that information on to the doctor. Medical assistants aren’t allowed to offer medical advice.

Office staff and manager: Doctors' offices also have people who work behind the scenes. The manager is in charge of overall business operations. Coders process insurance information. You may meet the office workers if you have a problem with billing or insurance claims.

Sometimes a separate business outside of the doctor’s office handles the billing. If you have billing problems, you may be directed to speak with someone who handles this for your doctor but is not directly employed by his or her office.

Technician: The people who do medical tests are called technicians. They're trained in areas such as:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • drawing blood

Technicians are not allowed to read your test results or offer you a diagnosis or medical advice. They send the information they gather to your provider, usually a doctor.

Nurse: The kind of nurse you meet depends on the size of your doctor’s office and its specialty. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) has earned a diploma or certificate. An LPN typically does basic duties, such as:

  • Check your height and weight
  • Take your medical history
  • Take blood

A registered nurse (RN) has an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. In a doctor’s office, an RN is often the one who coordinates your care with LPNs, technicians, and any other medical professionals. An RN might also perform the same tasks as an LPN.

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