Medical assistants are held to a higher standard of professionalism than employees in other industries. The way the medical assistant approaches the job and interacts with patients is critical to the success of the physician's practice. Patients expect professional behavior and put trust and confidence in those who are professional in demeanor. There are a specific set of skills and attributes that shape a medical assistant into a professional.
Medical Assistant Professional Skills
There are many skills that contribute to the professionalism of medical assistants. Medical assistants should work on being loyal, dependable, courteous, initiative driven, flexible, credible, confidential, and optimistic.
Skill #1: Loyalty - medical assistants should be devoted to the success of the medical practice and hold the belief that being a medical assistant at the medical practice is in their best interest. Loyalty should be reciprocal and if a medical practice is offering equal pay for equal work, the medical assistant will feel like the medical practice is doing its best for them as well. Medical assistants can go one step further and be committed to the medical practice if they support the employers' strategy and objectives.
Skill #2: Dependability - a dependable medical assistant not only shows up for work on time but also produces consistent work. A medical assistant must follow through when the physician gives an order. The dependable medical assistant will also be counted on and given more responsibility.
Skill #3: Courtesy - the medical assistant should be friendly and kind to patients at the medical practice. Attention should be given to the patient as they arrive at the medical facility. The medical assistant should offer a warm smile and friendly attitude to the arriving patient.
Skill #4: Initiative - the medical assistant should be self-motivated and ambitious. Medical assistants that show initiative have a take charge attitude. The medical assistant should observe a need and make themselves available, rather than wait for a supervisor to direct them to an area that needs attention.
Skill #5: Flexibility - the medical assistant should have the willingness and ability to respond to changing situations and expectations. Flexible medical assistants will modify their approach to tasks based on the unique demands of each situation, especially in an emergency. In a medical facility the patient comes first, and every medical assistant should lend a hand where ever they are needed.
Skill #6: Credibility - trust is a vital component of the medical assistant and patient relationship, and the credibility of the medical assistant should be strong. The information that is given to patients must be accurate as the patient may see medical assistants as an agent of the physician.
Skill #7: Confidentiality - Patients are entitled to privacy under the HIPAA act. Confidentiality extends to the home and other environments outside of the medical office. The medical assistant is prohibited from discussing confidential patient information to family and friends. Consequences will be enacted if the medical assistant breaches patient privacy.
Skill #8: Optimism - a medical assistant should have a positive attitude, be kind and courteous to others, not jump to conclusions, give others the benefit of the doubt, and ultimately be optimistic.
Sometimes a medical assistant will find it tough to keep a professional attitude. Working with angry patients, colleagues or supervisors can test one's patients. Some of the things that may obstruct a medical assistant's ability to stay professional include personal problems, rumors, personal phone calls and office politics.
During work hours, medical assistants should focus on the patients and leave personal problems at home. A medical assistant should refuse to participate in the office rumor mill, while still being friendly to everyone at work. Many medical practices will ask that medical assistants turn off their personal phones. Personal phone calls and checking of personal e-mails should be done while the medical assistant is on break. Instead of engaging in office politics, a medical assistant that wants to move up should focus on doing a good job, accepting responsibility, and being dependable. Office politics can cause the work environment to become tense and anxious, not only for the workers but also the patients.
Medical Assistant Professional Attributes
The medical assistant will need specific attributes to be a professional while working with colleagues and dealing with patients. These attributes include teamwork, time management, prioritization and goal setting.
Attribute #1: Teamwork - medical staff must work together for the benefit of the patient. The medical assistant should accept the tasks given to them by their supervisor unless they are illegal, unethical, or place patients in danger.
Attribute #2: Time Management - the medical assistant should use their time efficiently and concentrate on the most important duties first. They should make a schedule, prioritizing tasks and allowing for emergencies along the way. The key to time management is prioritizing.
Attribute #3: Prioritizing - a form of triage should be used by the medical assistant to sort tasks into the must, should and could categories. Of course, the medical assistant needs to attend to emergencies, but they also must anticipate what will do the most good and in what order those tasks should be completed to benefit the most.
Attribute #4: Setting Goals - if the medical assistant doesn't set goals, they will never know when the goals have been achieved. Setting goals can also help the medical assistant accomplish what they want or need to each day, giving them more motivation to achieve those goals.
These are the skills and attributes a medical assistant should learn while in school and on the job. Learning never ends as a medical assistant and that is what makes this career so rewarding.
Interested in learning more about the skills and attributes that make a professional medical assistant? Ready to start a Medical Assistant Program? Mildred Elley offers a Medical Assistant Program in NYC, Pittsfield, MA and Albany, NYthat 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 professional medical assistant.