Private healthcare practices need the best mix of talent to function smoothly, but between licensed medical staff and administrative personnel exists a gap that is ideally filled by someone with a grasp of both the clinical and clerical ends of medicine — a medical assistant. Not all medical assistants, however, receive the same training, and some won’t have the right blend of education and soft skills to be a good fit in every setting. When hiring, here’s what you should look for.
The medical assistant fills a variety of roles but can also perform duties specific to the practice’s specialty. His or her education covers essential administrative functions such as scheduling and records management and clinical tasks like taking vital signs and obtaining urine samples, but it may also include advanced training in phlebotomy and performing electrocardiograms. Medical assistants have a broad knowledge base and can collect most clinical data for interpretation by licensed staff, but because of differences in curricula among degree programs as well as experience, it’s critical to verify they have the training necessary to meet your needs.
Medical assistants require extraordinary soft skills to be successful. As a liaison between clinicians and clients, professionalism, excellent communication skills, and flexibility are a must. As the ultimate multitaskers, medical assistants must embrace a wide range of responsibilities and should be technology-savvy team players. Because a medical assistant is often the first and last person a client sees when visiting your office, hire one who will approach both clients and co-workers with a smile and consistently positive attitude.
Certification isn’t necessary for medical assistants, but it’s highly desirable because it demonstrates competency in core areas. Several accredited agencies offer it, but certification through the American Association of Medical Assistants is the gold standard. The Medicare and Medicaid programs both require medical assistants be properly credentialed to enter orders into electronic health records — an important factor for practices trying to meet meaningful use requirements — and some states limit job responsibilities for non-certified candidates. Certification offers the greatest flexibility.
Medical assistants fill critical roles in private practice. Choosing applicants with the skills necessary to succeed and the personality to blend seamlessly into your office culture is challenging, but it’s worth the effort to ensure their success and avoid staff turnover. Keep the above tips in mind whenever you find yourself in the hiring process.
If you find yourself constantly in need of some more management in your healthcare practice, let Wellness Works help! We offer consultation and management services to assist you in doing what you need to do, taking care of others.