Starting out in a new career can be a scary prospect. There are so many questions: What if I mess up? How can I best prepare myself? Do I really know everything I need to know about this job? You may fear that you’re suddenly lacking self-confidence.
Actually, it’s natural to have these types of doubts, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
One way to ease some of the questions in your mind is to find out everything you can about your future career. Not to pile on the pressure too much, but as a medical assistant (MA) there are a lot of things you’ll need to know. And forget learning just the basics: if you want to stand out in this growing field, you’ll have to go above and beyond.
A good place to start when researching a career is figuring out which skills you’ll need to be successful. For MAs, it’s all about job-specific tasks and good people skills. Take a look.
Medical assisting skills you need to succeed
First, what do medical assistants do, anyway? You might have a vague idea that they work in a medical facility with patients, doctors and nurses all vying for their time. That’s true, of course, but it’s only a vague overview of what a MA truly does.
Depending upon the facility in which they work, MA responsibilities include:
- Administering injections
- Drawing blood
- Ordering supplies and equipment needed to keep the facility running smoothly
- Preparing the exam room for the physician
- Scheduling appointments for patients
- Taking vital signs
- Recording patient medical history
If being a MA is you dream job, know that you’ll perform those tasks daily. But that’s only the start of what you’ll be doing. With such a variety of behind the scenes and front of the office duties to accomplish, MAs need to master skills for all of them.
It’s crucial to know every aspect of your job to impress your employer, but some skills weigh more heavily on job success than others.
We took a look at 5,188 medical assistant job postings* that were looking for people with 0-4 years of experience—right where you’ll be when you join the work force. These are the skills employers will want you to have.
Take a minute to look at each individual task so you don’t get overwhelmed. While it is a lot to take in, you probably realize that you can already do some of these things well. That leaves you free to focus on areas that you may find confusing or unfamiliar. If you see a theme, you’re right: people-focused tasks.
Focus on customer service
Every one of the top 12 skills employers seek—from patient care to appointment scheduling to checking blood pressure—focuses on people, so it should be pretty clear that you’ll need to hone your people skills to be a successful medical assistant. After all, nearly all of the daily duties mentioned in the chart require close interactions between you and your patients.
An MAs attitude and demeanor can even cause people to choose a new medical practice, Asiyah Jafary says. Think about it: would you rather talk to someone who is pleasant and cheerful or someone who is sullen and cross? Patients usually interact with MAs first, so their first impression of a facility, whether good or bad, depends on you.
Now you know what you need …
So how do you get there? How do you ease all these questions in your mind and simply know that you can do the job?
Luckily you’re not expected to learn all this stuff on your own. That’s where a degree comes in. Coursework and internships put you on the right path. With classes that focus on medical records and functions of the human body, you’ll be full of medical assisting skills and knowledge you can’t wait to show off in your new job.
You do still have one important decision to make, and that’s what kind of degree you’re seeking. For some guidance, check out Medical Assistant Degree vs. Diploma to explore your options–or, if you already know what you want, jump straight to the medical assisting degree page.
*Source: BurningGlass.com (analysis of medical assisting job postings, Aug. 29, 2013 to Nov. 24, 2013)