Scheduling appointments. Welcoming patients into the office doors. Recording medical histories. Preparing patients for examination. Performing laboratory tests. Administering medications. Holding a hand in the waiting room. Talking through treatment plans with patients. Listening to their concerns.
These are just some of the duties of a medical assistant.
Medical assisting, just as any healthcare career, is a multi-dimensional field. It requires its professionals to possess not only clinical and laboratory skills, but also administrative and people skills. In medical assisting, compassion and customer service are equally valuable traits to medical or technical knowledge.
If you are considering a career as a medical assistant, you likely understand the competitive nature of the field. Medical assisting is one of the fastest growing healthcare careers today, with employment of medical assistants expected to grow over 23 percent by the year 2024. This means that healthcare practices will be expanding and hiring new support workers in the coming years. This also means that now is the time for you to tighten up your resume and hone in on your medical assisting skills.
So how will you, as a prospective medical assistant, stand out above the rest? What are potential employers looking for in medical assistant candidates? Goodwin College has compiled four of the most valuable qualities of a medical assistant. Some of these characteristics may come naturally to you while others may need to be strengthened through a medical assistant program. Let’s take a closer look:
- Flexibility – There is no doubt that healthcare can be a demanding field. Many facilities are open 24/7, deal directly with emergencies, and require long hours of their employees. It is important, therefore, that medical assistants remain flexible and adaptable.
As a medical assistant, you will come across a diversity of patients. Each will have their own illnesses, distinct personalities, and separate treatment plans. Every situation will be unique, and you must be able to think on the spot, think critically, and treat them accordingly. For this reason, flexibility is key.
- Excellent Customer Service – A medical assistant is the first person a patient sees when he or she walks into the office and the last person seen before that patient leaves for the day. It is crucial, therefore, that you remain personable, professional, and offer quality customer service to each and every patient that walks through the doors. Patients are customers. To keep them coming back, you must keep a good attitude. Be a positive influence when they need it most.
- Effective Communication Skills – Great medical assistants are clear communicators and exceptional listeners. As a medical assistant, you will work one-on-one with patients. You will show them how to prepare for procedures and talk them through after-care treatment plans. You will also teach patients how to perform tasks or administer medications at home, on their own. You will constantly be asked questions, and to explain or re-explain the doctors’ orders. For these reasons, good communication skills are critical to medical assisting.
- Institutional Knowledge – Above all else, medical assistants need to know their role and know how to do it well. Medical assistants are expected to be proficient in clinical, laboratory, and administrative duties. They are expected to be certified, with some degree of postsecondary education, and ready to perform any and all duties that come with the job.
While the duties of a medical assistant vary, many of their responsibilities require a lot of technical and clinical training. These include collecting lab specimens, drawing blood, measuring vital signs, and taking electrocardiograms. Specific training is also needed for administrative duties such as medical coding, billing, and record keeping.
At Goodwin College, our medical assisting courses are specifically designed to help students develop these very skills. We aim to help prospective MAs like you gain a solid grasp of each practice and assignment that may come their way. Through our classrooms, clinics, and on-the-job training, you will learn and cultivate the necessary qualities of a great medical assistant.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.