Becoming a medical assistant requires a diploma from a vocational school and skills that are vital for the job. Candidates must also possess several personal qualities that ensure they are able to interact with patients as well as members of the healthcare team.
Quality #1: Effective Communicator
A medical assistant must learn medical terminology in order to understand professional conversations regarding medical conditions, diagnostics and treatments. In addition to communicating with members of the medical team, good medical assistants must have the ability to translate the terminology into lay-person terms that patients can understand.
Communication is a two-way street. A medical assistant must also possess good listening skills. Medical assistants listen to patients explain their symptoms and concerns. The medical assistant must answer questions to the best of their knowledge. When interviewing a patient, they need to know how to obtain all of the pertinent information from the patient to ensure the physician has the facts necessary to make an appropriate diagnosis. Good listening skills are also necessary when receiving instruction from physicians and nurses. Following an examination, patients may ask a medical assistant to clearly explain any procedures they must undergo and the treatment they will receive.
Quality #2: Compassionate
A medical assistant may encounter patients experiencing pain. Patients or parents may express fear concerning a potential diagnosis or condition. Medical assistants must offer compassion and support. Patients must feel that the medical team understands their concerns and has sympathy for their emotional state. The qualities of compassion and understanding help alleviate anxiety and encourage a sense of calm in patients of all ages.
Quality #3: Outgoing
Throughout each work day, medical assistants interact with a variety of patients, physicians, nurses and other members of the medical team. At times, the medical assistant may need clarification concerning a particular task. They must be able to ask the questions necessary to stay informed. Many of the conversations occur in person. Some of the conversations occur over the telephone. In any instance, a medical assistant must be a “people person.” This occupation is not for someone who is shy or withdrawn.
Quality #4: Nonjudgmental
A medical assistant may encounter patients who require medical treatment as a result of a prior unwise decision. Medical assistants may meet patients who have lifestyle choices or who are from cultures that are in stark contrast to their own. Regardless of the circumstance, the professional behavior of the medical assistant requires that they do not pass judgment on others. It is also unprofessional for a medical assistant to judge or gossip about patients or other employees. During their career, medical assistants may encounter ethical and moral issues but, as a member of the medical team, a medical assistant’s main concern is to always provide the best possible care for their patients.
Quality #5: Self-Controlled
Patients consult with medical professionals in order to receive the treatment they need to maintain their health and well-being. The field often presents several emotional challenges. Medical assistants may interact with patients exhibiting a wide range of emotions. At times it is difficult not to become emotionally attached or affected by the emotions displayed by others. However, despite what a medical assistant thinks or feels in the moment, they must display a professional attitude toward the patient and others.
Medical assistants may encounter people who are less than personable. Medical staff and patients may, at times, become frustrated or angry. In these cases, the medical assistant must have the ability to take another person’s personal temperament in stride and not allow the encounter to prevent them from performing their duties.
Quality #6: Calm Under Pressure
Physicians’ offices, quick-care clinics or similar medical facilities are bustling with activity throughout the day. Staff members pitch in and manage a number of responsibilities and assignments. During the course of the day, a medical assistant might encounter ranting patients or demanding members of the medical team, in addition to trying to fulfill their own duties. At times, an eight-hour shift may seem like a never-ending array of demands. Under these circumstances, the job can easily become stressful. A medical assistant must be able to handle multiple tasks and deal with difficult situations as they arise with a calm, controlled and cool-headed demeanor.
Quality #7: Reliable
Reliability is one of the most desirable qualities any employee can possess. Medical employees are expected to arrive at the agreed upon time and to accomplish the assigned duties within their scope of practice. Other members of the health care team rely on medical assistants to behave and act in a professional manner that appropriately represents the facility in which they are employed.
Quality #8: Honest
By being an honest person, a medical assistant is better able to establish trusting relationships with both patients and colleagues. When explaining procedures and treatments with patients, they must resist the urge to sugar coat the experience. Likewise, if a medical assistant makes a mistake, they should admit the error, make the necessary corrections, make amends and strive to improve. Co-workers will not view someone who engages in deceptive behavior as trustworthy.
Quality #9: Integrity
The quality of integrity can be described as how someone acts when others are not around to witness their behavior. The trait must be displayed when interacting with co-workers or in an examination room with a patient. Patient information is another area in which integrity has a role. The HIPAA Privacy Act protects patient information. Personal patient information should never be shared with people outside of the medical team responsible for that individual’s care. Behavior and conversations in and around the workplace must be both professional and discreet.
Quality #10: Well Organized
The many tasks that a medical assistant might complete in a day require that the individual is well organized. In addition to visiting with patients and consulting with colleagues, the medical assistant is required to complete various documents. They may need to provide medical professionals with laboratory tests and other pertinent information needed to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment. The various tasks must be completed at specific times during the day. The medical assistant needs to manage their time accordingly to accomplish their duties to the best of their ability in the time frame allowed.
Quality #11: Adaptable
Adaptability is a good trait to possess. A medical assistant must be able to adjust their normal schedule to accommodate sudden change. They may need to use problem-solving skills in order to manage all that is required in the moment. Adaptability also helps when dealing with the many different personalities that medical assistants encounter. As their career progresses, medical assistants may need to learn additional skills or gain advanced knowledge. It is in the best interest of the medical assistant to embrace change as needed.
Did learning about the qualities that make a good medical assistant interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.
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