Traits That Make an Outstanding Medical Assistant

A medical assistant listens to a young boy’s heart.

As you look around the world of healthcare, it seems that medical assistants can plug into almost any medical setting. They work in small physician offices, large hospital systems, nursing homes, and pediatric clinics. This range of job sites is possible because, after initial training in our medical assisting certificate program, graduates learn specific skills and knowledge on the job. At Northwestern College in Oak Lawn, IL, serving the Greater Chicago area, we find that the traits listed below set prospective students on the path to outstanding careers in the field of medical assisting.

Affinity for Healthcare Settings

While some medical assistants work mostly in an office, that office likely is in a hospital or clinic. They handle documents and files that record medical procedures and appointments. There may be significant amounts of time talking with patients on the phone about their care protocols, scheduling appointments, or taking detailed messages to be relayed to physicians, nurses, and other professional staff. In other words, patient care is the focus of health organizations, and medical assistants who enjoy these settings can enjoy their work and advance in their careers.

At Northwestern College, students participate in externships that provide real-world experience in a variety of settings and specialties. Students are able to gauge their comfort levels, and work as part of a healthcare team, rather than as a patient receiving care. Another resource is provided by our career services department, in which students attend workshops and events where they can meet with healthcare professionals and discuss different career paths.

Capability to Provide Personal Care

Most medical assistants have direct interaction with patients who are working to maintain their health or recover from an illness, injury, or disease. There is a requirement that medical assistants be comfortable and professional when touching patients, for example, to take their vital signs or help position them for a medical examination. Medical assistants may see patients who are not fully clothed, could be experiencing fear, or feel uncomfortable with close contact.

Medical assistants may gather and label bodily samples, such as vials of urine or blood and swabs from the throat or nose. Any initial squeamishness or distaste toward these kinds of procedures must be overcome. And to perform these important duties, medical assistants must practice good hygiene and dexterity. Because personal care is more easily provided with an attitude of calm confidence, the certificate program at Northwestern College offers classes in anatomy and physiology and clinical assisting skills. The full curriculum can be accessed in the catalog.

Curiosity About Science and Technology

While medical assistants work in a social profession where they regularly interact with patients and their workmates, the job is firmly based on a scientific education. Students learn about the human body, a vastly complicated and exciting field of study. Scientists and medical researchers make discoveries every day about how systems function within our physical selves, as well as the interaction with emotions and mental processes. So, prospective students must take an active interest in new information and be willing to adapt to new techniques.

Technology plays a huge role in every medical field, from the small devices used to take measurements, such as blood pressure or temperature, to electrocardiogram (EKG) machines. Medical assistants are called on to calibrate machinery, make small repairs, clean equipment, and use software programs that require varying levels of technological competence. Training as a medical assistant can lead students to further their education in nursing, radiologic technology, or health information technology. Northwestern College offers associate degree programs in those three fields.

Is a Medical Assistant Program Right for You?

As you consider the traits that make an outstanding medical assistant, understand that many aspects can be learned. Experience gained through hands-on training in school, valuable externship programs, and on-the-job experience is key to gaining confidence and proficiency. In Oak Lawn, IL, and the greater Chicago area, we offer academic advising and peer tutoring as you progress through the program. Find out more about becoming a registered medical assistant with Northwestern College. Request information today!