5 Skills Every Medical Assistant Should Have
Medical assistants enjoy a challenging yet rewarding career in a growing industry with more than 100,000 job openings expected annually from 2020 to 2030. With a mean hourly wage of $18.36, this is an excellent opportunity for students to enter the field of allied health.
Do you have what it takes? Students who want to enter this career path should consider the hard and soft skills they’ll need to become an essential part of a medical team.
5 Essential Skills for Medical Assistants
The roles and responsibilities of medical assistants can vary depending on their workplace. The position offers versatility and flexibility, but many of the duties and required skills remain the same from one location to another. Here are some of them:
- Clerical Skills
Medical assistants should have basic office skills similar to those of an administrative assistant. Some medical assistants may be responsible for answering phones, responding to queries, and managing documents. Medical assistants may need to monitor medical supply inventory and handle reordering. They’re also responsible for scheduling patient appointments and ensuring there are no conflicts between the schedules and activities of the medical team members. In some cases, they may also handle hospital admission arrangements.
Medical assistants also need computer skills, including being able to manage patient records, print instructions and prescriptions, and file laboratory requests. Most medical assisting programs will introduce students to the different medical software that hospitals and clinics use. Learning how to use these programs can increase your employability.
- People Skills
Good people skills will go a long way in helping you succeed as a medical assistant. Since you’ll be working with people day in and day out, you need to have good personality skills. Teamwork, honesty, patience, respect for others, and congeniality all help ensure the working environment remains amicable and productive for everyone—coworkers and patients alike.
Confidentiality is a must for medical assistants. No matter what industry you work in, you’ll be tasked to handle confidential information. You will also have a role to play in regulatory compliance and protecting patient data.
- Communication Skills
In some cases, medical assistants will become the face of the medical facility they work in. This means they will have direct interaction with patients, medical sales representatives, and other stakeholders. As such, they must be able to communicate well.
When dealing with patients, you must be able to explain procedures and translate medical jargon into easily digestible language—sometimes during a high-stress situation. In these cases, being able to communicate in a calm, clear, and empathetic manner is critical. Medical assistants also need to take part in medical discussions with their colleagues.
Remember that communication skills are not only reflected in how you speak. They also involve listening to what the other person is saying.
As a student, you should start practicing your communication skills by:
- Participating in discussions
- Listening to classmates and mentors
- Speaking in a calm manner
- Asking relevant questions
- Confirming you understand what is being said
- Technical Skills
Medical assistants can explore a wide range of specialties. Some may handle different medical machines, such as an electrocardiogram or an ultrasound machine. This means they must know how to operate medical equipment and troubleshoot when problems arise. Technical skills are important for fixing simple issues—and also for knowing when to elevate the repair concern to relevant technicians to prevent disruptions in the facility’s operations.
- Patient and Medical Skills
One of the basic tasks of medical assistants is patient monitoring. Before a doctor or nurse sees a patient, you must get their medical information, including their medical history and vital signs.
Depending on the purpose of the patient’s visit or their medical condition, you may also need to take blood and other samples, provide vaccinations, or administer other medications as directed by a physician. Medical assistants must also learn specific and essential skills, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. These certifications are often included in a medical assisting program, where students also learn about the body’s anatomy, physiology, and cardiovascular response.
Being a medical assistant means dealing with patients. You become the first and most consistent interaction they will have. Not all patients are easy to deal with, particularly those with severe medical conditions. There may also be instances where you have to meet and communicate with their family members. That’s why it’s vital to connect with them with empathy, respect, and clarity. In a way, you will be a partner in their healing process.
Learn Medical Assistant Skills Now
These medical assistant skills will come in handy when you’re part of a medical team. Having a positive attitude and pairing them with the right skill set will go a long way. Most of these skills can be learned and developed with a solid medical assisting education.
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