Why Your Demeanor Matters As a Medical Assistant
Health care is one of those career fields that requires a certain type of person.
Yes, you need to have an orderly mind for facts, procedures, and systems.
You should be an expert communicator, confident and experienced in relaying sometimes sensitive, sometimes complex information
You have to (or at least, should) have a passion for medicine.
And, if you’re interested in a career in Medical Assisting, you need to have the right demeanor.
Working as a Medical Assistant means you’re often the first and last person patients talk to when they enter a doctor’s office. This means, even if you’re not diagnosing or prescribing medicine, you make the first and last impressions on patients who are often exhausted, worried, distracted, or all of the above. You need to have the same qualities as other health care workers, but you also need the right demeanor, the facets of which we’ve described below.
This is something different than friendliness, which tends to be the first quality you learn in any hospitality job. Friendliness, as long as it’s not just smiling fakely, is a fine quality for a Medical Assistant, but warmth is different, something deeper and much more important.
Having a warm demeanor manifests in many ways, all of them valuable. Warmth is first and foremost authentic, a demeanor that conveys you’re a real person. Patients should feel very quickly that they can trust you and the things you say, at least in a professional capacity. Trust requires them believing you’re genuine, so you have to be.
Warmth also exudes kindness and empathy, showing real concern for a patient’s concerns. Whatever mood they’re in when they enter your office, you need to be kind to them, not just polite. That’s not always easy, since people are rarely at their most charming and patient when they’re sick, but warmth always works in your favor as a Medical Assistant. It can diffuse bad tempers, and it puts people at ease.
Warmth is also non-discriminatory. Medical Assistants who work in pediatrics know that children are attuned to falseness and being patronized. If you’re warm and friendly with parents but adopt a different persona for their kids, they’ll notice and lose trust in you. Whatever age, whatever sickness, whatever attitude of a patient, you should treat her with the same warmth you show everyone who comes in to the office.
Your medical practice may not be the most serene environment in the world. If that’s true, it’s only another reason that you should be as calm and even-tempered throughout the day as humanly possible. Peace, like warmth, is diffusive, and others sense it immediately. Going to the doctor, even after you grow up, can be stressful, even scary. People never go just for the fun of it; often there’s a health concern or a debilitating illness that brings them. As soon as they walk in the door, they need to experience some reassurance that it’s all right, that they can feel some peace. Your demeanor can provide that.
Remaining calm and peaceful can alleviate others anxieties. It’s contagious, and it’s good for you too! It’s also always necessary, whatever the circumstances. However chaotic the office feels, however much work you have to do, when you interact with patients, they need to experience you as a serene.
Related Resource: 3 Great Tips for Staying Calm at Work
Confidence is often confused with arrogance, even though they’re radically different things. Arrogance is a kind of pride, assuming you’re better than those around you—and needless to say it’s one of the worst qualities you could have as a Medical Assistant. Confidence means you’re secure in yourself and your knowledge, and it’s as powerful as warmth for building trust. If you’re the first person a patient meets at a doctor’s office, you need to convey, through your demeanor, that they’ve come to the right place, and that they can trust the medical care they’re about to receive.
Having self-esteem is important for being confident, but believing in your skills and expertise as a Medical Assistant is equally if not more important. Never forget: You’re a health care professional, and you have an important job to do. If you’ve trained and studied and practice, you’re going to be good at your work, and your demeanor will show it through confidence.
Related Resource: What to Expect from Your Medical Assistant Externship
At AmeriTech we’re committed to preparing our Medical Assistant students for work as soon as they graduate, and having the right demeanor is a big part of that. If you’re interested in becoming a Medical Assistant, you can earn your degree in less than a year. As always, we’d love to hear from you!