Ready to get the skills needed to succeed as a medical assistant? You may already have some of these skills or they can be learned while attending a vocational school. Some of the skills learned during a medical assisting program at a vocational school will be work related skills and some are life skills. Whether work or life skills, personal growth is important for all medical assistants to achieve their goals. Personal growth includes a medical assistant’s mental, physical and spiritual health. It is the key to self-improvement. Also, personal growth is an ongoing task for medical assistants and should be present throughout one’s career. Employers will want to hire medical assistants that are willing to always improve one’s self and set goals for self-improvement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are four main skills that a medical assistant should learn to be successful. They include analytical skills, being detail oriented, interpersonal skills and technical skills. Additional skills a medical assistant should possess to be successful include teamwork, manual dexterity, customer service and computer skills.
Analytical skills – include the ability to collect, gather, visualize and analyze information in detail. Using good analytical skills will look at a problem from different points of view. Medical assistants must be able to understand and follow medical charts, diagnoses, treatment and procedures. They may be required to code a patient’s medical records for insurance claims and billing. Analytical skills are key to succeeding as a medical assistant.
Detail oriented - medical assistants need to be precise when taking vital signs or recording patient information. Accurate records are important to keep patients healthy. The medical assistant will be ordering supplies and equipment to keep the facility running smoothly. The medical assistant will also be administering injections, applying dressings and drawing blood, so being detail oriented is important. Being detail oriented will make sure that the medical facility as well as patients are properly taken care of.
Interpersonal skills - medical assistants need to be able to discuss patient information with other medical personnel or educate patients on treatments and procedures. They also interact with patients who may be in pain, so they need to be able to act in a calm and professional manner. Interpersonal skills range from communication and listening skills to attitude and behavior. Much of the medical assistant’s day involves interpersonal skills so improving them is vital to a medical assistant’s success.
Technical skills - medical assistants will be carrying out many different tasks and need the technical skills to be successful. They should be able to use basic clinical instruments, so they can take a patient’s vital signs or assist a physician with minor surgery. The medical assistant will be administering injections, drawing blood, preparing exam rooms, scheduling appointments for patients, taking vitals and recording patient medical histories. Having the technical skills to perform these tasks are vital to succeeding as a medical assistant.
Teamwork – being a good team member involves being able to clearly communicate ideas within the medical group. A medical assistant must also mediate problems between colleagues. Team members should listen, be reliable and show respect to each other. Good teamwork is important for teams to help improve patient care through shared ideas.
Manual Dexterity – the ability to make coordinated hand and finger movements to grasp and manipulate objects. The medical assistant will need to exercise fine motor control and possess excellent hand-eye coordination. They will work with small instruments and must be able to manipulate those instruments to perform patient treatment or minor surgery.
Customer Service – the medical assistant works with patients on a daily basis. Good customer service skills include having patience, being attentive, using clear communication skills, and having a calm presence. Whether sitting at reception or answering the telephone, the medical assistant must perform good customer service to keep patients happy.
Computer skills – the medical assistant works with many different types of computer software to enter data into electronic health records, schedule appointments, process billing and monitor inventory. Basic computer skills are important, and the medical assistant should be familiar with Microsoft Word and Excel.
A medical assistant should have specific life skills that supplement work skills and education to be successful. The medical assistant must also strive to improve and attain personal growth. These life skills include self-control, self-esteem, problem-solving, decision making, stress management, adaptability, empathy, prioritization and the ability to multi-task. Employers are looking for medical assistants that take life skills seriously to grow both personally and professionally.
Self-Control – the medical assistant will need to regulate their emotions, thoughts and behavior in situations with a controlled manner rather than working on impulse. Also, a medical assistant will work with patients in their time of need, so the patient may not be on their best behavior. A medical assistant must exercise self-control even with a patient that is difficult. They should remember that the patient may be in pain and not acting like they normally would.
Self-Esteem – how the medical assistant feels about their abilities and limitations. A medical assistant’s self-esteem can be shaped by their thoughts and perceptions as well as how others react to them. With healthy self-esteem the medical assistant will feel good about themselves and see themselves as deserving the respect of colleagues and patients.
Problem-Solving – a medical assistant with good problem-solving skills can remain objective, be able to list all their obstacles, identify opportunities and enlist open-minded colleagues to collaborate to solve problems.
Decision Making – a medical assistant must take the time to weigh the pros and cons of a decision and employ logic during their thought process. The medical assistant must define the problem, generate some possible solutions, evaluate the pros and cons, select a proper solution and be able to implement the option chosen. Having sharp decision-making skills is an asset for any medical assistant.
Stress Management – working with ill patients can be stressful. Some stress is positive and will push the medical assistant to reach goals. The negative stress includes disappointment and embarrassment. Whether positive or negative, the medical assistant must be able to manage stress to succeed.
Adaptability – the medical assistant must be able to grow and adaptable to change. Everyday is different as a medical assistant and they must be able to change with the environment, even in an emergency.
Empathy – the medical assistant must be able to understand or feel what a patient is experiencing from their perspective. They should show patients compassion and have sympathy for those that are ill.
Prioritization – triage is a part of a medical assistant’s job. Making sure that the most important issues or emergencies are dealt with first. The medical assistant will need to assign degrees of urgency to not only illnesses but phone calls and walk-in patients. Being able to prioritize is important while doing tasks as a medical assistant.
Multi-Tasking – a medical assistant will be juggling many tasks and patients in a given day. The medical assistant may be processing insurance claims, scheduling appointments and/or answering phone calls, all at the same time. The ability to work with more than one task at a time is crucial for a medical assistant to succeed.
Ready to learn the skills you need to succeed as a medical assistant? Interested in starting a Medical Assistant Program? Mildred Elley offers a Medical Assistant Program that prepares students for entry-level positions in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities as a medical assistant. The Medical Assistant Program helps develop the skills necessary to excel in the healthcare industry.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a medical assistant.