An intimate look into the work of medical office assistants in the field of cannabis
The role of the medical office assistant (MOA) is crucial to the core functioning of a clinic, allowing the medical practice to grow and keep patients and physicians alike happy. Their role consists of so much more than answering the phones and booking appointments and at times this role can evolve to being the shoulder to cry on, being a confidante, and a friend.
Seeing that welcoming face first when patients come into the clinic will set the tone for their entire visit.
Helping is the true nature of an MOA, this could not be truer at a medical cannabis clinic that conducts studies. The research component of our clinic requires special attention to detail in the tasks at hand and providing further assistance to patients and their caregivers. Being a medical cannabis advocate for our research but also for patient access becomes second nature to a Santé Cannabis MOA.
We asked our team of medical office assistants to share with us their feelings and experiences of working at Santé Cannabis. Let’s look at their work diary:
“My story at Santé Cannabis began as a patient and over time I was able to manage my illness to a point I could maintain employment. I wanted to give back to a community that gave me so much. Each patient I met needed their own individual support and I felt as if I could be this person to provide that for them.
We are the first intervention if a patient is overwhelmed with emotions. I remember a past encounter with a patient that left a powerful impression when she told me ‘Today you saved a life, I hope you realize this. I cannot thank you enough for talking me off the ledge today. You are an amazing human being.’
We are the first voice of reason when a patient calls because they have lost hope in our medical system. As an MOA, we have a vital role to play in a patient’s care from the moment the clinic receives their referral.
Not many people realize that the MOA is the glue that holds the clinic together.
Being an MOA for the last 4 years has brought me so much joy and fulfillment, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity Santé Cannabis gave me.”
– Rebecca Fogel, MOA
“Seeing our patients satisfied and confident when leaving the clinic with new information and the ability to pass this information on to others that may be suffering is probably the best part of my job.
I recently received a phone call from a patient, and the amount of joy, relief, and gratefulness that was coming through the phone was truly inspiring. They felt their treatment had helped them so much and they wanted to express the difference it made in their life. It was what I was here for; to hear that it helped someone to that extent was absolutely rewarding.
Seeing what our patients have gone through has really opened my heart with much more compassion. The best part is that when the treatment really works for them. This gives me more motivation to push and reach my goals and help the people that need access to medical cannabis.”
“Working at a clinic whose goals are to improve access, educate, and treat patients, and taking part in those projects makes me feel like my time and efforts are worthwhile when compared to previous jobs. It has been eye opening to see the extent that patients must go to be able to acquire medical cannabis. The regulations, laws and policies put forth by our government when it comes to prescribing medical cannabis can really make it hard for patients to get the care they need. It’s not easy, and it needs to be improved.
There is one anecdote that marked me was when booking an initial appointment for a palliative cancer patient. The patient told me they were about to undergo immunotherapy. Studies have shown immunotherapy treatment is not as effective when taking cannabis: medically or recreationally. In that moment, it hit me how important it is to educate people about the effects cannabis has on the body. Previously unaware of the risks, this patient could have gone to the SQDC and put their health and cancer treatment at risk.”
– Shant, MOA and Research Assistant
“I came to Santé Cannabis for a new beginning. My family doctor and I had a conversation about a new clinic that was opening neighboring his practice, and so I applied without hesitation. I knew nothing about cannabis. Since I was a little girl, I have always been there for others. I like to feel useful and no matter how small the help I can provide, I can still make a difference in people’s lives.
In the early days working during Dr. Watier’s clinic, I asked him to follow a patient with autism, which he accepted. I’m impressed to see how much this young man’s life has changed with his cannabis treatment as well as the life of his parents. He is still a patient with us today.”
– Manon, MOA
“I take pleasure and pride in being the first line of contact for people who request our services. Being the first person who ensures each individual feels acknowledged and attended to with the utmost dignity, empathy and compassion is a responsibility that is integral to this position and that I greatly value. In my work, a moment that always grounds me is the shared conversations with patients during phone calls. Their openness to be vulnerable and to discuss their personal struggles, their view on life and contemplation about the afterlife are always subjects of reflection and empathy that make me appreciate those moments.”
– Jessica, MOA
“Santé Cannabis allows me to use my skills and experience to contribute to a worthy cause. I am also lucky to work among an incredible team of professionals in a field that’s always striving for improvement and building a standard for patient care, research, and education.
One of my fondest memories, since I work here; was amid the pandemic; we had all been working from home for months – a difficult time for many – and we were preparing for our virtual Christmas party. I was helping organize our staff events and had to come into the office (a rarity at the time) to assemble care packages that were to be sent out to all the employees. Besides the fact that the packages were particularly generous, it was great to feel part of an organization that truly operated like a family caring for its members during tough times.”
– David, Clinic Coordinator
We also asked one of our founders and the manager of our nursing team to write a few words about our team of MOAs whom they work closely with and rely on to complete a successful clinic day.
“I’m happy to recognize the work that our medical office assistants do on a daily basis. You should be proud of what you do every day!
You are the first contact with the patient. You are there to assist them, to guide them through their journey, to ease their concerns, to respond to their needs. It is because of you that we can provide services to patients. With your empathy, your kindness, and your listening, you contribute to improve their experience in the process of relieving their symptoms.
You help both the patients and your colleagues during the course of care.
It is not uncommon for me to hear patients say, ‘The staff is very welcoming’, ‘I felt taken care of as soon as I arrived’, ‘I had a lot of help from the medical office assistants while filling out the questionnaires’.
The nurses are proud to work with you.”
– Naomie Parrot, Nurse Manager
“This initiative to recognize our team of MOAs is invaluable to building community.
We are an organization that embraces all the workers as important contributors to the success of its operation. This is at all levels of our mandate: clinical, research, education, and advocacy.
Our powerfully talented group of MOAs are contributing through their commitment to our vision of relieving the suffering of patients with chronic pain and other diseases that medical cannabis can treat.
This positive interdependence is appreciated by everyone involved and leads to greater job satisfaction and dedication.
We all need each other to get the job done.
I am so grateful to have our MOA team, and to be able to rely on them for the smooth and efficient work that we achieve. ”
- Dr.Michael. A. Dworkind, Medical Director and Co-Founder.
Whether their motivation is to educate, advocate or spread awareness on the importance of medical cannabis treatments and access, we know the empathy of our MOAs help build the patient’s trust. This trust is often the beginning to a long-term relationship.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.