How To Excel On Your Medical Assistant Externship

How_To_Excel_On_Your_Medical_Assistant_Externship_3-1.jpgMedical assistant externship opportunities are geared to help you prepare for your new career.

On a medical assistant externship, you’ll put into practice your school training. You’ll  learn new ways of working, and interact with a variety of people; all of which means you should come out of the experience a better, more rounded medical assistant.

But how can you guarantee your medical assistant externship will be one that you’ll look back on with pride? The answer is ensuring you enroll in a school that has a history of preparing its medical assistants to excel on their externships.

As you research your short list of medical assistant schools and the programs they offer, here are few tips, hints, and general guidelines that any of those schools should be passing onto its students for externship success, whether it’s at a large hospital or a small, private medical practice.

Personal Appearance. Looking the part on your externship is crucial. First impressions matter, especially within a medical setting. Though you should always check with your externship supervisor if you’ve got questions about personal appearance requirements for your externship site, there are some guidelines that should be always be closely followed.

Hair. Wear your hair in a manner that won’t interfere with your work. If you have long hair, ensure it’s pulled out of your face, or pulled back into a pony tail.

Personal Hygiene. Avoid wearing strongly scented body care products. Coworkers and patients may be sensitive to the fragrance. Be known for your great work and not the perfume or body spray you’re wearing.

blog_1.jpgDress code. You’ll be working with people from all walks of life. It’s important to project an image that reassures and comforts patients, patient families, and other visitors. This means, dressing conservatively, keeping jewelry and makeup to a minimum, having short and clean nails, ensuring facial hair is kept well-trimmed, keeping tattoos covered and removing visible body-piercings.

Professionalism. Being professional on your externship is incredibly important. Hold yourself to the highest possible standards so you’re continually representing yourself in the best possible way.

Attendance and Punctuality. Treat your externship like a job. Missing work or being late doesn’t reflect well on you. Plan ahead and give yourself extra time to avoid being held up in traffic, or caught in public transport delays. Remember the rule of thumb: if you’re 10 minutes early, you’re on time. If you show up when your shift starts, you’re late.

Workplace Feedback. Instead of viewing feedback on your job performance as negative critique, use the feedback as a way to learn new skills, and improve your current ones. Remember staff give advice not only because the externship site probably has a certain way of doing things, but because they want to see you succeed.

Inappropriate Conversations. It’s best to separate your personal life and work life. Don’t discuss personal problems with patients. Keep such conversations to a minimum with other staff members. To avoid inadvertently offending someone, also refrain from talking about confrontational subjects, telling inappropriate jokes, and using unacceptable words.

Patient Care. On your externship, you’ll be interacting with patients in daily, real-life situations. Ensure you’re continually keeping your commitment to providing exceptional, patient-focused care.

Confidentiality. Avoid talking about patients, their situations, and anything confidential outside of work, especially in public areas. As a health care professional, you’re handling patients’ sensitive information, and by HIPAA law you’re expected to maintain strict patient confidentiality.

How_To_Excel_On_Your_Medical_Assistant_Externship_2.jpgCultural Sensitivity. At your externship site, get to know the patient population you serve. Understanding a person’s beliefs and behaviors will allow you to provide the best patient care.

Rapport and Relationship Building. Being in a medical facility can be challenging for patients, emotionally and physically. Take this opportunity to build rapport and relationships by ensuring you’re empathetic, engaging, and patient.

Patient Families and Friends. Patient care doesn’t stop at the person you’re treating; it extends to your engagement with the patient’s family, friends, and visitors of the patients. Be sensitive and understanding of their needs; they may be going through a difficult time.

Soft Skills. Soft skills are personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, such communicating well with co-workers and patients, adaptability within the workplace, and resolving conflicts with satisfactory results. This is particularly important to keep in mind on your externship.

Have Confidence In Yourself. You’ve studied hard. You’ve received expert training. Now is the time to believe you can do the job. Your confidence will manifest itself in everything you do and rub off on coworkers who will begin to see patients are in good hands with you. Strike a balance between being a problem-solver and asking for help. Know the things you can do, and build a platform of confidence you can do them well. As for situations you’re unsure of – ask for advice, seek help, and learn what to do the next time you find yourself in the same situation.      

Be Team-Oriented. Remember, everyone has different opinions and working methods. Ensure you’re flexible and open-minded. Don’t forget you’ll be working with people who have far more medical experience than you. Allow yourself to be accepting and thoughtful of new ways of working.  Treat your externship as opportunity to not only practice what you learned in school, but also an opportunity to broaden your skill-set.

Handle Your Emotional Intelligence (EI). It’s vital you maintain control of your emotions. Always be the consummate professional, quick to get along with your work colleagues. Learn the working styles of the people around you, and adapt accordingly.

In conclusion…

Choosing a medical assisting school that’ll help groom you to perform your best on your medical assistant externship is essential in kick-starting your new health care career. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, once you’ve found a medical assisting program that’ll train you to excel on your externship, you’ll be able to walk into any medical facility grounded in the knowledge that you’ve had the best possible preparation.


BAMA is proud to partner with Walgreens to provide students with a 240-hour, on-the-job
clinical pharmacy technician externship at one of the largest drugstore chains in the US.

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