Should You Become a Medical Assistant?

Medical assisting falls into the category of non-licensed health care occupations. Trained medical assistants typically work in an ambulatory setting under the supervision of the doctor who hired them, such as private and group medical practices, HMOs, walk-in emergency clinics, and various other types of out-patient health centers. Training is relatively short. It includes basic medical terminology, anatomy, math, pharmacology, phlebotomy, first aid, medical billing, and clinical skills that are essential to the job.

A medical assistant is flexible and able to easily float from the front office (administrative areas and reception) to the back office area (examination and treatment areas, diagnostic). Primary duties involve appointment scheduling, registering and rooming patients, taking vital signs, explaining upcoming medical and diagnostic procedures and keeping the entire office and storage spaces organized, safe and clean. Attention to detail, accuracy and common courtesies are essential to prevent errors-so much depends on the medical assistant-that doctors could not run their office without them.

•Professionalism: remains calm under pressure
•Integrity: is honest, respectful, and sincere
•Dependability: knows the job and respects accepted protocols
•Team player: works well in a group or team
•Assertiveness: is aware of personal rights
•Courtesy: displays positive attitude, responds to patients feelings
•Respectful: good listener, non-judgmental, and empathy
•Organized: is able to multitask while also paying attention to details
•Dedicated: is committed to the doctor and interested in work

Active Community Engagement

The provision of a skilled, multidisciplinary team is pivotal to the successful delivery of health and medical care. Doctors, nursing staff, medical office managers and their medical assistants must be ambitious in their goals, focused in their ambitions, actively engaged, and aware of the latest developments in medical sciences, health care, and community services. Being engaged, proactive, and informed can be just as rewarding as taking blood pressures and medical histories. One medical assistant known for playing a vital role within her own community is Karen Zick of Fairview Internal Medicine in Great Barrington (in the Berkshires). Not only is she a dedicated medical assistant, but she also serves on her town’s Board of Health and is a qualified candidate for a seat on the three-member Select Board where she is running for a three-year term.

Staying Abreast with Trends

The best way to stay abreast with the latest developments, studies and trends in medicine and health care delivery is by joining others in the same field. There are professional membership organizations specifically dedicated to medical assistants, such as through the American Medical Technologists (AMT), the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and National Healthcareer Association (NHA) whose services include continuing education programs with CEUs, workshops and seminars and
peer-to-peer networking platforms. Being involved means staying current and informed. Many social and sharing networks on the Internet also focus on medical assisting topics and trends.

Staying Out of Trouble

REMEMBER: Medical assistants, regardless how experienced or seasoned in their field, cannot act without a doctor physically present when providing direct patient care. Direct patient care are such skills as administering medical treatments, injections, ear lavage, suture removal, or a cardiac stress test. Even more so, they never independently refill prescriptions, even if they were refilled before, give any kind of medical advice, not even a well-intended suggestion that could be (mis-) interpreted as medical advice and never share confidential patient information with other parties unless a valid need to know exists. Only take on tasks that you have been taught and clearly lie within your discipline’s limitations. Medical assistants, even as volunteers, must always adhere to their job description and applicable state and federal laws. The consequences of overstepping occupation limits can be serious.

Getting Hired

To fill available jobs and vacancies in a modern healthcare system you must hold the necessary skills that match those needed for current job openings. Job offers for medical assistants open and close daily everywhere, but those people who remain jobless typically lack the experience, motivation, or skills to market and present themselves when they apply for these positions. This is sad, it does not require extensive schooling to brush up on ailing skills and excellent courses taken right over the Internet, literally by the push of a button.