Top Skills to Succeed as a Medical Assistant

Medical assistant with doctor

Have you felt attracted to a career as a medical assistant? If so, you may already have some of the skills you need to be successful. At Northwestern College in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and serving the greater Chicago area, we help students in our Medical Assisting program develop the skills they need to start on this exciting career path. Here, we discuss the top skills that medical assistants must bring to their work with patients in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, and many other settings.

Office Administration and Computer Skills

Do you have experience working in an office? Medical assistants must be able to handle administrative tasks, such as:

  • Answering phones and making phone calls
  • Providing customer service to patients
  • Processing paperwork and electronic files efficiently
  • Entering data with a keyboard accurately and quickly
  • Recording information about patients during an examination by a doctor
  • Taking blood pressure, temperature, and other vital signs

Basic Medical Skills

Generalized medical knowledge is necessary for a successful medical assisting career. This includes training in medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as an understanding of the laws and ethics guiding medical practice. Additional skillsets used by medical assistants include:

  • The ability to perform CPR
  • Experience triaging patients
  • Understanding sterile techniques and other protocols
  • Familiarity with basic laboratory tests
  • Knowledge of common pharmacology
  • Competent in diagnostic testing, such as EKGs and COVID-19 tests
  • The ability to assist with minor procedures (i.e. suture placement and removal, eye and ear exams, and more)

If medical assistants work in a specialized area of healthcare, they need to be able to develop specific knowledge related to their field of medicine. Further, medical assistants often are responsible for cleaning and maintaining medical equipment, so the ability to understand basic mechanics, as well as sanitation and hygiene, are skills necessary for success as a medical assistant.

Communication Skills

Medical assistants spend time explaining medical concepts and procedures to patients, so they must be good communicators. They also communicate concerns and questions that patients may express back to doctors or other members of the medical team. The ability to work together with office and medical staff to ensure clear communication and the best possible care for patients is a key skill for medical assistants.

Communication skills also are necessary when medical assistants interact with insurance company representatives to determine what care is provided for the patient, how much is billed to the patient, and how much is earned by the medical provider.

Privileged Information Skills

Can you demonstrate trustworthiness in the workplace? Medical assistants must operate with integrity and maintain confidentiality for both patients and staff. Compromising patient confidentiality is both an ethical and legal problem for medical facilities. Violations result in fines, review of personnel and procedures, and sometimes loss of licenses. The medical assistant plays an important role in protecting both the patient and the medical team by keeping strict confidentiality and demonstrating a clear understanding of medical ethics.

Gain More Skills for Your New Medical Assistant Career

Have you counted the skills you already have — and the skills you want to develop? Medical assistants offer important skills and are needed in almost every medical setting. They also provide compassionate, life-affirming care to patients and lead fulfilling careers. Learn more about the Medical Assistant Certificate program at Northwestern College in Oak Lawn, IL, and serving the greater Chicago area by contacting us today.