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Things No One Tells You About Being an MA


Medical assistants encounter an assortment of challenges every day. Here are a few things no one tells you about being an MA.

Medical assistants are a necessary part of almost every healthcare facility, from a bustling hospital to a small clinic. Becoming a medical assistant can mean a variety of things, and referring to MAs as “support staff” doesn’t really do justice to what the job actually entails. Here are three things that will probably surprise you about what medical assistants do:

Related resource: What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

You’ll do more jobs than you ever thought you would.

Medical assistants have to be adaptive. The job is seldom routine, and on any given day MAs will have to wear a variety of hats. Depending on the needs, staffing situation, or workload of your place of employment, you could be running tests in a lab, measuring a patient’s vital signs, or doing administrative tasks.

But even if you know that, that more visceral knowledge can sometimes be drowned out by doing numerous impromptu jobs that come your way. They can be can be tiring, satisfying, challenging, exhausting, and rewarding all at once. Even if you know in your head what you’ll have to do today, you won’t really know what the day could bring until you’re living it.

Related resource: So You Want to Make a Difference? Be a Medical Assistant

Very often, you’ll be the public face of healthcare.

Medical assistants have a lot of contact with patients. While you’ll spend plenty of time in labs or working on operational tasks, you’ll also find yourself in public-facing roles on a regular basis. MAs are often the first medical staff that patients see when they enter a hospital or treatment center, and the last ones they interact with when they leave.

This means that medical assistants have to have more than just medical knowledge. They also have to know people. Any skills you have from people-centric fields (such as customer service or communications) will serve you well as an MA, especially with patients who may already be under a great deal of stress in a healthcare setting. Maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor, keeping your composure with patients who may be experiencing strong emotions, and being able to either answer questions or tell patients where they can find answers are all things that MAs have to contend with. Being assigned to clinical tasks means that you’ll have to deal with medical challenges, but the person-based challenges can be just as tough, and just as important.

Related resource: 4 Reasons We Love Medical Assistants

You’re indispensable.

It’s easy to go into medical assisting and expect it to be a minor role. However, being support staff means that you’re essential. Doctors and nurses cannot do their jobs without you. Patients will not get the care they need without you. Healthcare cannot function without the contributions and presence of MAs. The information that you provide when you take a patient’s data, when you measure someone’s pulse or other vital signs, or when you perform a lab test, makes you an essential part of an ecosystem that improves patients’ lives.

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