Tactics for Medical Assistants to Stand Out from the Crowd
The medical industry is growing at a rapid pace, largely due to the fact that our nation’s population is aging, and this older generation requires more care. The Baby Boomer generation drives business, and since they are increasingly worried about their health and independence, they are visiting doctors more often in order to remain active. Long term, the ramifications of health care reform might also increase the demand for physicians and related staff as a greater number of people has access to insurance. This increased demand for services means a corresponding need for staffing at all levels, from physicians to medical assistants to front-desk workers. For medical assistants, this demand does not mean they can simply walk into an office and get a job. Proper training and commitment will help prospective medical assistant find work in this expanding industry.
The adage that “you need experience to get the job, but can’t get experience without a job” does certainly apply to the medical field. Anyone that is hoping to join the field at the medical assistant level should first find any type of employment within the broader field. This could include answering phones or performing basic clerical work in order to see how a typical office functions, along with the roles each individual plays in the overall success and operational efficiency of the practice. Taking on an entry level role shows employers dedication to the field and willing to learn the basics before taking on a more involved role. Being involved in the health industry in any capacity also provides the opportunity to start building a professional network. Many medical assistants also begin their career as a volunteer or as part-time staff. Completing an externship at a school or volunteering gives the beginning assistant a good measure of confidence and can also help to decide if the medical career is right for them long-term.
Employment for medical assistant work is increasingly difficult without certification. It is strongly suggested for those hoping to enter a competitive field to acquire the right training and certification in order to level the field with other applicants. Those who attend school to become a medical assistant, should take the time to get certified. An organization such as the nonprofit American Medical Technologists offers a variety of certifications including Medical Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Medical Lab Assistants, and Medical Assistants. The National Health Career Association is another group that features the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant certification. Certification validates knowledge and commitment to the profession and shows willingness to spend time and money in order to be successful in the medical career. As certification becomes more common, some medical assistants are pursuing specialized certification in fields such as Phlebotomy or ECG. Such certifications show the doctor’s office a deep array of skills. These extra steps can often relate to multiple job offers and higher starting salaries.
In some ways, doctors and office managers think the same as any other employer. They desire employees that are capable and that have a clear understanding of the organization’s mission and core values. They want the prospective employee to not only have the right mix of technical and medical skills, but also the proper “soft skills” that will allow them to interact with doctors and patients. Patients are more likely to leave their practitioner if the level of service is not ideal, so doctors and office managers understand each patient needs to enjoy an optimal and professional experience. The right training environment can help students develop soft skills to meet these needs.
After conquering the training and certification pieces, interviewing with an office manager or doctor requires confidence and knowledge of the audience. Assistants should not be afraid to speak up and promote accomplishments and enthusiasm for the work. Body language is very important. Doctors want to be sure bedside manner is sound, so they will be watching eye contact, tone of voice, and attentiveness to questions. Usage of proper industry terminology is important, and will show the employer proper training and communication skills. Interview basics are vitally important, as medical assistants will be interfacing with the public daily, so the office manager needs to know their staff is professional. It is important to bring transcripts and certification, and equally important to dress professionally.
Individuals looking to enter the medical job market as medical assistants need to understand while the demand for such services is growing, there is still considerable competition. Medical assistants that take the time to learn the industry from the ground floor and further their education will remain valued employees throughout their careers.
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