Primary Care

Project Title

Understanding Medical Assistants’ Role on Primary Care Teams Across New York State

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Primary Care

Date Awarded

June 9, 2023





In Progress


High-quality primary care is best delivered by a diverse team of professionals that work together and combine unique skills to address the needs of patients and communities.

Medical assistants (MAs) are critical members of a primary care team who perform a variety of administrative and limited clinical tasks, such as conducting intake and measuring vitals, under the supervision of a physician. The shift to team-based care, the relatively fast growth of the MA workforce, and strain on clinicians have meant that MAs sometimes take on enhanced roles in areas such as care coordination, patient navigation, patient education, and disease management. Although many MAs enroll in training and education programs, New York State does not require them to get a specific license or certification. Additionally, there is little up-to-date New York-specific information about the characteristics of MAs, how the role varies across practices, and the extent to which MAs are used as members of primary care teams. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is one of the only sources of data on the MA workforce; the last study of the MA workforce in New York is more than a decade old. In 2023, NYHealth awarded New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH), through fiscal sponsor Workforce Development Corporation, a grant to better understand the landscape and identify opportunities to integrate and elevate MAs in New York State.

Under this grant, NYACH will interview primary care practice administrators and others to understand the functions MAs perform in sites across the State, the extent to which MAs are playing an elevated role on care teams, and the barriers that prevent MAs from taking on greater responsibilities. NYACH will refine research questions, determine methodology and related instruments for a future phase, and establish a dissemination and analysis plan. This planning step will ensure that the research focuses on the most pressing topics, reflects the experiences of MAs in daily practice, and uses data collection tools that are effective and easy to understand. NYACH will solicit information and advice from stakeholders such as trade associations, primary care practices, and organizations conducting workforce research, training, and technical assistance. During this planning phase, NYACH will also produce detailed findings from analysis of existing data on the MA profession, research methodologies, and implementation strategies.