A medical assistant is a valuable asset to any health care clinic, handling a wide range of responsibilities that ultimately makes the workload of everyone else in the office much easier. Not everyone is well suited for the rigorous demands that are placed on medical assistants, as this occupation requires a certain set of skills and personal attributes. If this occupation sounds enticing to you, you’ll need these important medical assistant qualifications in order to be successful.
Medical assistants must possess certain personal characteristics if they are to handle the duties that are required of them. A few personal characteristics that are important to have are:
- Good organizational skills
- Attention to detail
- An ability to work well under pressure
- Excellent time management skills
- Good interpersonal skills
Since medical assistants work with everyone from medical specialists to patients, they must therefore be comfortable communicating with a diverse group of people. The ability to treat everyone with dignity and respect are important traits for a medical assistant as well.
Since much of the work performed by a medical assistant is administrative in nature, it’s important to have clerical skills such as:
- The ability to type at least 40 words per minute accurately
- Basic knowledge of computer programs and software
- Written communications skills, which are useful when sending emails and drafting correspondence
- Good phone etiquette
As a medical assistant, you should also be familiar with the procedures used to maintain medical records. When utilizing Electronic Health Records (EHR), you should also be familiar with the best practices used to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of information.
Medical assistants are also directly involved in patient care, which means you should possess the following medical-related skills:
- Updating medical charts
- Deciphering physician’s notes
- Reading and recording laboratory results
- Collecting and preserving laboratory specimens
- Taking a patient’s vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, etc.)
These skills all require a basic knowledge of medical terminology, human anatomy, the various systems of the body and common diseases. You may receive that knowledge during a formal training program.
Education and Training
The only education needed to become a medical assistant is a high school diploma or equivalent. Those with no formal education will complete a rigorous on-the-job training program to acquire their skills. Others may attend a formal training program that consists of classroom and laboratory work, in addition to hands-on training in a medical clinic. It is also possible to become a medical assistant through a combination of education and work experience.
Your supervising physician is ultimately responsible for your actions as a medical assistant. As such, you must demonstrate your competence at certain tasks before you are allowed to perform them on your own. This means you could be supervised very closely in the beginning, even if you have already completed a formal training program.
Although certification is not needed, many medical assistants nonetheless take a certifying exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or American Medical Technologists (AMT). Becoming certified in this way will help you demonstrate your proficiency at certain tasks, making it more likely you can obtain a position that pays above average wages. To become certified, you must first graduate from a training program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
These are just a few of the qualifications you will find useful once you begin working as a medical assistant. For help in finding a training program that will help you develop the skills you’ll use on a daily basis, please feel free to contact us.