I am an RN and work as a telephone triage nurse. Our department has RNs, LPNs, and medical assistants. Our supervisor has been there for many years and is an LPN. Recently, a medical assistant was named her assistant and will be in charge if the supervisor is not available. Is this legal? Can a medical assistant supervise LPNs and RNs? Our human resources department approved this, so they have no concerns about it. If it is a concern, who do I report it to?
It would be highly unlikely that a medical assistant would be able to supervise an RN or an LPN in relation to patient care and nursing practice. Additionally, it is interesting that the supervisor who has been there for some time is an LPN. The end result of this is that two individuals, one with a license and one without, are making supervisory decisions with less education and training than the RNs.
Although you did not mention this, what “supervision” do these individuals provide? Do they determine such things as when the staff can take breaks, go to lunch, or take time off? Or, are they overseeing an RN and an LPN’s triage decisions and their respective nursing practices? What happens if the RN and the medical assistant don’t agree on a triage decision? Whose judgment prevails?
You might want to review your state’s nurse practice act and its rules to determine if there is any guidance on this issue. You also have the option of seeking a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who can provide you with this information so your practice, and your supervision, is in accordance with the applicable laws. The attorney can provide you with specific information as well as how to report this arrangement, if it is not consistent with your state’s laws.