Is Medical Assisting the right career choice for you? Browse through the job description section of any career search engine and you’ll see a list of must-have medical assisting skills and qualities that an employer is looking for in a future employee. Most descriptions will be similar; some will be different.
But there is one medical assisting job requirement that will be listed on nearly every list you’ll come across: “Applicant must possess good oral, written and interpersonal communication skills.”
“Communication- the human connection- is the key to personal and career success.”
-Paul J. Meyer
In the medical field, and especially when working as a Medical Assistant, the popular quote, “Communication…is the key to personal and career success” is certainly true. Day after day, Medical Assistants must exercise strong communication skills in all forms with a diverse audience of people. MA’s must effectively communicate with:
- Patients - the sick, injured, and dying who may be scared, confused, emotional and vulnerable
- Family members - the loved ones who have endless questions- or not know which questions to ask- and who may be feeling all of the same emotions as the patients themselves.
- Doctors, Specialists, and Nursing Staff - There are countless medical professionals that MA’s must communicate with constantly to ensure that every patient receives the optimum care and best treatment plan for their needs.
- Medical Social Workers and Advocates - Medical Assistants may find themselves communicating with various patient advocates throughout the workday. It’s important that MA’s understand and follow all laws involving patient health and privacy (HIPAA), and the accurate and appropriate information to communicate with any additional individuals present while treatment or care is being provided.
Throughout a typical workday, Medical Assistants must effectively communicate on the job in three different ways, and they’ll face various obstacles along the way that make having good communication skills even more vital.
Medical Assistants Must be Excellent Listeners.
It’s often said that listening is the most important part of effective communication, and this is especially true for Medical Assistants. MA’s are many times among the first individuals that patients meet and discuss their medical needs with.
It’s important to establish a relationship of trust between the medical care provider and the patient, and one of the best ways to do this is to be a good listener. MA’s must look for non-verbal cues and body language; listen carefully to the answers that patients provide; and, be sure to listen to the information that family and loved ones provide when they are accompanying the patient into the room. Medical Assistants must also be capable of carefully listening to a doctor’s recommended course of treatment, because MA’s may be asked to relay that information to a patient on occasion.
Medical Assistants Must have Good Written Communication Skills.
MA’s are responsible for recording data on patients’ vital statistics and patient histories, and for documenting any specific medical concerns or questions a patient may have. Accuracy and precision are extremely important to ensure that crucial information is not missed or in error.
Medical Assistants Must Have Good Oral Communication Skills.
MA’s must effectively and accurately be able to communicate any related medical information with patients, doctors, and the rest of the medical staff throughout the workday. Having 100% accurate communication is essential to avoiding confusion or costly medical errors.
Having strong communication skills is essential to work successfully as a Medical Assistant. Nearly every aspect of the job requires an MA to use communication techniques to put a patient at ease, discuss medical procedures, and perform the necessary duties of the job. Being flexible with how you communicate is also important because there are always many obstacles that could get in the way of actually being an effective communicator on the job.
Patients May Have Impaired Cognitive Understanding.
Developing skills to effectively communication with patients who have cognitive disabilities or delays can help ensure that blood draws, blood pressure checks, and other duties are completely safely and properly.
Patients May Have Visual Impairments.
A patient may have difficulty reading a consent form or informational packet. They may be anxious about a procedure they are unfamiliar with. Being able to walk them through the process with compassion will help any MA do their job with ease and effectiveness.
Patients May Have Language Barriers.
MA’s may find themselves speaking a different language from their patients, without always having an interpreter present. Some patients may have hearing impairments that also create a language barrier between them and a Medical Assistant. Calming, friendly body language and visual demonstrations or examples are just a few ways to help put a patient at ease when verbal communication can be a challenge.
Exercising good communication skills is one of the best ways to ensure success as a Medical Assistant. To find out more information about a career in Medical Assisting, or how you can earn your degree in Medical Assisting, contact Athena Career Academy today.