Introducing Primary Care's Newest Team Members!

June 11, 2015   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: Training , PCPCH Standards , Care Teams
Marissa Sweeney

In 2014 the Institute launched the Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH) Online Learning Modules as a resource for describing and explaining the 10 must-pass standards and the 23 other standards that clinics can meet to earn points toward becoming officially recognized as a PCPCH in the state of Oregon. The PCPCH Online Learning Modules gained American Academy of Family Physicians certification to be used for up to 2 prescribed CME credits and was also approved by the Oregon Nurses Association for up to 2.25 continuing nursing education hours.

A fortuitous bi-product of certification and validation of the Learning Modules by AAFP, AMA and ONA was that Portland Community College (PCC) recognized the PCPCH Online Learning Modules as a fundamental resource for educating their Medical Assistant students on the PCPCH model; PCC elected to incorporate the modules into their MA program curriculum (you can read more about this in a previous blog post from program’s director). By doing this, PCC acknowledged the growing popularity of the PCPCH care model throughout the state of Oregon, but also the importance of the key role Medical Assistants play in increasingly team-oriented primary care.

I joined PCCs 2015 class of Medical Assistants on their final day of learning about the PCPCH model and had the opportunity to engage some individual students about their perspective on the role of Medical Assistants in PCPCH care teams, and what they intended to contribute to their future teams. I’m pleased to introduce you to a few of the students who took a few minutes to speak with me:

Mary Pittam:  Mary has always had a love for medicine and is excited about the idea of working directly with a variety of different patients in her future work setting. As a former teacher, Mary has a knack for educating others and feels this skill will be a great contribution to a team environment.  In regards to the emerging PCPCH model of care, she feels that it truly addresses a broad spectrum of health care and clearly defines the things that primary care teams need to do to make a difference in people’s lives.  Mary’s history as an educator paired with her innate interest in providing care to others is sure to be a recipe for success as a Medical Assistant.  The Institute wishes you well in your future endeavors, Mary!  

Sally Gray: Sally is motivated to become a Medical Assistant for reasons that are both personal and professional. When Sally had her first child she developed a close relationship with the MA that provided her with comfort and care, and it is her hope to provide that same level of care to her future patients. Sally is also a practicing massage therapist and becoming an MA is both a complement and an extension to her previous experience caring for people. The PCPCH model of care excites Sally because it encompasses and unites all that health care should be and addresses caring for the whole person all at once as opposed to fragmented care. Sally’s interest in leadership, her emotional intelligence and her compassion for others will undoubtedly be a great asset to her future medical home team.

Elizabeth Hernandez Lopez: For Elizabeth, becoming an MA is the first step of what she hopes is a long career in health care. Since she was a young child Elizabeth has envisioned herself working in health care, and becoming a medical assistant is a way for her to not only get her foot in the door but also to engage with patients and work with them on empowering themselves to take their health in to their own hands. Her personal perspective and values on patient care closely aligns with the PCPCH model in that the PCPCH model makes efforts towards increasing access to preventive care, which Elizabeth feels is a crucial component of managing one’s health. Elizabeth’s open and friendly nature will definitely be an advantage of her future primary care employer by way of easing patients’ nerves and ensuring them that they are in good hands. We would all be so lucky to have someone like Elizabeth caring for us!

Winnie Howard: In Winnie’s own words, “my heart has always been most happy when I am helping people.”  This is the reason she has chosen to become a Medical Assistant. Primary care is her specific area of interest, but regardless of which type of healthcare environment she ends up in she hopes to always be contributing to people’s lives in a positive way.  What most excites her about the PCPCH model and team concept is that it will help people gain better access to all the different types of healthcare they need and deserve. Winnie’s skills as a medical assistant, paired with her exceedingly positive attitude will surely impact people’s lives both here in the US and in Africa where she hopes to go and offer her compassionate healthcare skills.


Marissa Sweeney joined Q Corp in 2014 as a Program Coordinator on the Measurement & Reporting team, where she tracked their many projects and worked with medical groups and practices to keep the Q Corp provider directory and provider portal up-to-date and running smoothly. In 2015 she transitioned into another Program Coordinator role working on the Patient-Centered Primary Care Institute. She maintains have a strong interest in process and quality improvement in health care which has been cultivated throughout her experience in previous roles, including those in health care administration, public health and clinical trials.