If you’re interested in becoming a healthcare professional but years of schooling and a full-time class schedule don’t suit your needs, then a career as a medical assistant is a great choice. Medical assistants combine administrative skills with medical skills to aid patients and physicians.
Much like a nurse, a medical assistant helps a physician improve a patient’s health and well-being. To acquire a position as a medical assistant, you will need to show dedication to patient care and top-notch administration skills.
If you are interested in learning what medical programs you should take to build your medical assistant skills, then keep reading.
What Are Medical Assistant Skills?
The medical assistant skills listed below are the fundamental soft skills and professional skills required to become a medical assistant. We have explained these skills in detail so you can consider whether the profession is right for you.
You must have strong interpersonal skills so that you can effectively communicate with patients and other staff. As a medical assistant, you will regularly communicate with people over the phone, via email, and in person, which is a crucial part of providing proper patient care. Teamwork skills also fall under this category and are essential for all medical assistants.
Medical assistants will work either in a hospital, clinical setting, dialysis center, nursing home, or doctor’s office. Dealing with people in a hospital setting requires a high level of emotional control and understanding. This means active listening, patience, professionalism, and emotional resilience are more important than ever.
You will learn quickly that difficult conversations with upset patients and their family members are inevitable. Being understanding of what they are going through and helping resolve their issues are key qualities of a skilled medical assistant.
Keeping an accurate record of patients’ medical history and organizing other administrative tasks is a vital skill. Medical assistants must organize appointments, schedule procedures, process bills, record vital signs, administer medications, and compile a patients’ medical history reports.
Without medical assistants, clinics would not be well organized and patients could even receive the wrong diagnoses if their medical records are not accurate.
Medical and Technical Skills
You will need to demonstrate excellent technical ability as a medical assistant. It will be necessary for you to administer medications, draw blood, change dressings, and remove sutures. It will take time to learn to perform these tasks correctly, so a passion for continued learning is essential.
A medical assistant needs to be digitally literate, which includes answering phones, to using a computer to schedule appointments and access medical records. A more technical part of this skill is medical coding, which we have outlined below.
A medical coder analyzes clinical statements and assigns codes using a classification system. The coder then gives this information to the medical biller, who uses the code to appeal claims with health insurance companies to receive payments for the services provided.
Other Necessary Nursing Skills
- Cultural awareness
- Preparing treatment rooms
- Administering injections
- Medical terminology knowledge
- Providing life support
- Lab testing
- Monitoring vital signs
- Customer service
- Patient flow
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
How to Improve Your Medical Assistant Skills
No matter what education or employment level you are at, you should continuously build on your existing medical assistant skills. Below are some skills you can work on to flesh out your resume.
Many jobs can help you work toward these valuable medical skills. Working as a receptionist before getting your medical assistant degree or volunteering in a care home are some options. Any career that centers on communication with people and administration tasks will boost your resume.
Whether written or verbal, there are a lot of ways you can develop your communication skills. For example, if you want to learn to send professional emails, you can check online resources.
You may also want to sign up for a program to become a better writer. There are even verbal communication courses you can take to work on your teamwork and patient care skills.
Medical and Technical Skills
Technical skills will require a mixture of study and practice throughout your career. Simple methods for gaining technical skills include making flashcards with common questions and answers written on them.
For more hands-on learning, you can practice giving injections or removing sutures by starting on inanimate objects, such as fruit or plastic models. There are also plenty of courses that you can take to practice CPR and first aid before you start your formal studies as a medical assistant.
The ability to approach problems and people with a positive mindset is instrumental for all medical assistants. The smallest adjustments to your thinking can make a difference.
For example, instead of seeing feedback as a sign of failure, think of it as a way to improve yourself. Remember to take a deep breath if emotions are running high at work, and discuss any issues you have with your superiors so they may offer guidance.
Top Medical Assistant Programs and Certifications
To become a medical assistant, you will typically need to undergo a one-year training program. Medical assistant training courses can either be a certificate program, diploma program, or a two-year associate’s degree. Students usually obtain these certificates at a community college, technical school, or vocational training program.
The top accreditations to look for when you’re researching schools are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Let’s take a look at some of the top medical assistant training certifications.
Purdue University Global
Price: $371 per credit (58 credits)
On-Campus and Online
This Purdue Global certification gives students a mixture of hands-on and online learning. The courses teach everything from taking vital signs to recording EKGs, administering injections, assisting in minor surgical procedures, performing phlebotomy, laboratory testing, accounting procedures, medical billing and coding tasks, and reception duties.
California State University, San Bernardino
On-Campus and Online
This professional certification from CSUSB is for those interested in working in hospitals, doctors’ offices, dental offices, medical insurance companies, and outpatient clinics. The program includes hands-on training with the industry-standard software program ezEMRx, and it also has an online option.
Ogeechee Technical College
Price: $5,770/ $1,670
On-Campus or Online
In Ogeechee’s accredited medical assistance program, students will learn the basics of psychology, legal, and ethical practices in the medical office. They will also study general medical assistance skills, medical insurance management, administrative management, human diseases, and complete a medical assistant internship.
Should I Become a Medical Assistant?
If you are still wondering if a medical assistant is a worthwhile career and skill set for you, then take some time to consider if you want to learn about medicine and work alongside doctors and nurses to provide patient care. If so, remember that you will be working as part of a team to help patients recover and move on to lead happier, healthier lives.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a medical assistant earns a median wage of $34,800. It is a worthy career to pursue if you enjoy a mixture of administration and medical care.
Now that you have a better understanding of the range of skills that go into becoming a medical assistant, you can work on improving these skills so that you can land your dream job.