Must Learn Medical Assistant Skills
The healthcare field is currently exploding with opportunities. The past year and a half has seen medicine and healthcare generate demand for skilled professionals and one of the most sought after jobs in the field is that of a medical assistant.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistant jobs are projected to see a healthy 18% growth from 2020 to 2030.1 Medical assistants are required to have a distinct skill-set that makes them pivotal to the functioning of doctors’ offices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Therefore, learning medical assistant skills can be beneficial for you if you want to pursue a career in this field. In addition, according to the State of Michigan DTMB, Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, the employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 8.8% from 2018 to 2028.2
But how exactly can you do that? Out of the hundreds of courses and programs currently available for you, how do you pick the right one?
One great way to do this is by shortlisting courses and programs based on what they train you in. Here are a few key skills you should learn in order to excel in your career as a medical assistant.
What skills are needed for a medical assistant?
1. Administrative Skills
Medical assistants may be expected to handle administrative work in their healthcare institutions. This includes:
- Monitoring inventories
Stocking/restocking medicines, ordering reserves, supplier management, etc.
- Scheduling appointments
Arranging for hospital admissions or appointments for a specific doctor/ department.
This includes handling insurance claims which entail reconciling co-pays, filing insurance forms, advocating for the patients with their insurance companies, etc.
- Maintaining the database
This will more or less be a digital task in most institutions. Medical Assistants may be expected to maintain databases containing patients’ medical history, prescriptions, lab results, etc.
2. Patient Interaction
A big part of a medical assistant’s job is handling the patients in person. Medical assistants are essentially expected to be the communication link between the doctors and the patients. This requires them to be good with their bedside manner, which includes being able to explain complex medical procedures in a simple, lucid way, giving out clear instructions and informing the patients of the possible consequences of their medical choices.
Patient interaction may also include communicating distressing news to patients. It is important to do this in a calm, collected manner that gives the patients and their relatives enough time and space to process the news. Knowing a second or third language can make your patient interactions warmer and more personal.
3. Medical Skills
Medical assistants are not doctors or nurses but they are expected to do a number of medical tasks under the direction of licensed healthcare professionals. These tasks can range from dressing wounds to administering important medicines. Securing blood, urine, and other samples from the patients, helping them fill out medical questionnaires, performing EKGs, interpreting lab tests, and relaying information to patient are all part of medical assistants’ profile.
Basic Life Support skills (BLS) such as CPR, infection control, knowing about sterilization plus other safety, quality, and control standards, etc. These are a few medical skills that medical assistants are expected to have.
4. Medical Terminology
Being well acquainted with medical terminology is another important skill that medical assistants must possess. Medical assistants’ job responsibilities require them to have a firm grasp on the jargon related to:
- Medical administration
- Lab tests and procedures
- General front-office jargon in a healthcare setting
Working knowledge of medical instruments and diseases and their symptoms is also very helpful.
5. Medical Software Programs
Naturally, almost all healthcare practices now use digital systems for maintaining patient databases, inventory, clinical staff databases, pathological results, etc. This requires medical assistants to have some prior knowledge about these software programs. Most new hires however are given a training period where they get acquainted with the provider’s digital admin systems.
Medical assistants are trained in a number of skills that help them do various diverse tasks that are pivotal to the smooth functioning of a healthcare institution.
We at Dorsey College offer a comprehensive medical assistant program that includes classes on everything from maintaining electronic health records to administering prescribed medication. Our hands-on training program is available at 6 of our campuses in Michigan. At Dorsey College, we turn students into industry-ready professionals that are ready to pursue their newly chosen career.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
- Michigan DTMB, Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Long-Term Occupational Employment Projections (2018-2028) Michigan Statewide, Medical Assistants (SOC Code: 31-9092), https://milmi.org/ (visited November 4, 2020).