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What to Expect from Your Medical Assistant Externship


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You can learn a lot in the classroom—but you can’t learn everything, especially if you’re studying to be a Medical Assistant. It’s a job that requires a lot of medical knowledge, as well as skills and professional attributes that can only be gained through hands-on experience. At AmeriTech, and in most Medical Assisting programs, that comes in the form of an externship: 180 hours in an ambulatory healthcare facility. We want to prepare our students for all aspects of the work, and to help you prepare, we’ve written an outline of what to expect from your Medical Assistant externship.

Working under Supervision

Probably the greatest benefit of a Medical Assistant externship is the opportunity it provides to practice skills and duties while being supervised. In your classes, you’ll learn what and why Medical Assistants do what they do, but the moment you take that knowledge into the real world with real patients, even the simplest things like taking blood pressure can be daunting. The good news is: You’re not alone.

Your supervisor will work with you closely, especially at the beginning, to ensure you remember everything you’ve learned in class—and that you feel comfortable administering your duties. In addition to being a guide, of sorts, your supervisor may also serve as your safety net to ensure you don’t miss anything. That aspect of supervision can and should relieve a lot of pressure. It’s common to feel nervous before you’ve gained your skill, practice, and habits, but a supervisor’s presence should assuage most of those fears.

You’ll also be able to watch her and others perform procedures you’ll eventually do yourself. It’s one thing to read about Medical Assisting in a textbook and quite another to witness it in a working environment. The example of your supervisor and others will give you more opportunities to learn before you do a task yourself.

Asking a Thousand Questions

Your Medical Assistant externship should be a time to unleash your curiosity. These 180 hours are training, but they’re also an opportunity to learn all aspects of a job from the people who are doing it. In class, you’ll learn about best practices and may have already asked why different medical procedures are done a certain way. In your externship, you can ask the less technical questions like “How do you help nervous patients calm down?” and “Why do we put away the files like this?”

Asking questions that interest you will make all aspects of the work more personal—and will help the answers stick.

Related Resource: The Diary of a Medical Assistant

Learning the Role

As we discussed in our post about pediatric Medical Assistants, a big part of the job is all about communication. The authority with which you carry yourself, and the empathy you bring to patient interactions can’t be taught in a lecture. They’re skills, critical to the position, that you can only learn in your Medical Assistant externship—and you will. As you practice and watch the professionals around you, you’ll understand the interpersonal aspects of the work, and you’ll become good at them. When you begin your externship, you’re going to feel like a student. Ideally, by the time you leave, you can expect to feel like you fit the role.

Gaining Confidence

As a result of all of these, you can expect at the end of your externship to feel confident in your abilities to be a Medical Assistant. Self-confidence is a huge part of any healthcare job, which can be challenging for educators since it can’t be learned in a textbook or seminar. Gaining confidence in your ability to perform administrative and clinical duties requires practice, life experience, and supportive supervision. It requires, in other words, a externship, where you won’t just learn how to be a Medical Assistant: You’ll become one.

Related Resource: Employment Statistics for a Medical Assistant Student

At AmeriTech we’re committed to preparing our Medical Assistant students for work as soon as they graduate, which is why externships are such a critical portion of our curriculum. 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!