Medical Assisting Skills: What You Need to Know to Build Your Career

A medical assistant holds a patient’s hand.

After graduating from the medical assisting certificate program at Northwestern College in Oak Lawn, IL, and the Greater Chicago area, you’ll want to start taking steps to build a successful career. Medical assistant jobs are as variable as the doctor’s offices, hospital departments, assisted living facilities, and clinics where medical assistants find employment. By honing basic learning skills, participating in school training programs and specialized externships, and gaining practical experience on the job, medical assistants can develop skills that are in high demand. One’s dedication to skill development, continued education, and registered medical assistant certification can result in a career path with increased pay and responsibilities.

Skills That Help You Learn

The skills that help you work through your school assignments and practical labs will continue to help you build success and a strong career reputation in medical assistant jobs. The ideal skill set for a medical assistant includes the following:

H3: Communication

Maintain and improve your abilities in reading, writing, and speaking. Take advantage of any resources available to improve these abilities and talents. Communication is important because:

  • Medical assistants must be able to accurately read notes from physicians, patient histories, and other information. Reading and understanding technical materials is crucial for advanced certifications and employment in specialty clinics.
  • Clear, well-organized writing is important for recording patient notes in the electronic health record (EHR), writing letters on behalf of the medical staff, proper filing, and communicating with teammates. In addition, computer skills are required for effective writing in the workplace, including email communications, and other digital communication networks.
  • Effective verbal communication takes practice and dedication, so take every opportunity to contribute to class discussions, give a presentation, or tutor other students. Medical assistants spend time explaining procedures and illnesses to patients, and they need to be good at getting the message across. This includes communication on the phone, whether it’s for making appointments, explaining a medication procedure, or professionally handling a complaint.

Organizational Skills

Just as the ability to organize paperwork, ideas, and schedules helps you work through and finish school assignments, this also is an important group of skills for the day-to-day work done at medical assistant jobs. Patient data is to be kept confidential and must be accurately recorded. Mixing up patient records or attaching wrong values in the electronic health record (EHR) can have a significant effect on patient health, and the ability to provide beneficial medical care.

What’s more, when you stay organized, it’s easier to learn any new lessons and skills needed for the job—or even go back to school for an associate degree program while you work. For example, at Northwestern College in Oak Lawn, IL, which serves the Greater Chicago area, students can earn associate degrees in Radiologic Technology, Nursing, or Health Information Technology.

Dedication to Patient Care

This is what working in healthcare is all about—caring about people, helping patients improve their health, and relieving suffering. The values that lead you to work in a medical assisting job will put you in a position to give this kind of comfort, and allow you to aid in the healing, recovery, and rehabilitation of others. While these attributes might spring from a compassionate or empathetic nature, their application requires definite skills:

  • Listening carefully
  • Being respectful
  • Treating people with efficiency and effectiveness
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Behaving ethically at all times

Technical Skills for Medical Assistant Jobs

Medical assistants work with physicians, office staff, nurses, technicians, and billing and coding professionals. They must be open to cross-training with these teammates when it improves patient care. With high-level learning skills, including good organization and a strong grounding in healthcare ethics, assistants can acquire and develop additional skills. Depending on the setting and medical specialty of the workplace, skills required for medical assistant jobs may include the following:

  • Taking and recording vital signs
  • Customer/Patient relations
  • Knowledge of specific medical terminology and billing codes
  • Giving injections of medications
  • Assisting medical teams during examinations
  • Performing phlebotomy and gathering other patient samples
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Electrocardiograms (EKG)

Is a Medical Assistant Job Right for You?

Graduates of Northwestern College in Oak Lawn, IL, and the Greater Chicago area who have trained for medical assistant jobs find work in a variety of healthcare settings. By continuing to learn on the job, and utilizing the skills and knowledge gained in the certificate program, they are able to help many patients and build fulfilling professional careers. Request information about medical assisting at Northwestern College today.