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What Does It Take to Be a Medical Assistant?

Here's What it Takes to be a Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are essential to maintaining a streamlined and effective healthcare system. They work with doctors, nurses, office staff and other medical professionals to enhance patient care, keep accurate records and perform other necessary clinical and administrative tasks. Medical assistant roles are critical to keeping doctor's offices, hospitals, labs and testing facilities running smoothly.

Graduates of the Medical Assistant program at Brightwood College credit their success as medical assistants to the practical, hands-on training from instructors who have real-world experience.

Here’s what it takes to be a medical assistant, according to Dr. Faisal Rao, a Medical Assistant instructor at Brightwood College:

  • Medical assistants must be able to think on their feet, make quick decisions, maintain a top-notch work ethic, demonstrate good communication skills and be warm and welcoming to patients.

    “There are mothers with sick children who come to the doctor, so the medical assistant must be able to communicate clearly with them and make them feel more at ease,” Rao explains.

  • They must be committed and on time. Rao emphasizes the importance of punctuality in the medical assisting field.

    “As a doctor, I want to see someone who’s committed so that when I’m about to do a procedure, I can turn around and see my staff on the side with all the equipment ready,” Rao says. “The same goes for being a good student. Punctuality, coming to class on time, attending the classes and being professional are very important to me.”

  • Medical assistants must have skills that go beyond the fundamentals. Rao points out the importance of good, upstanding character, strong ethics and the ability to empathize with patients.

    “When I teach, the most important thing I stress is the character of the person,” Rao says. “You can get a pill from any doctor or nurse, but what you cannot always find is the treatment and respect offered by truly excellent healthcare professionals. I want my students to be welcoming and kind. Being able to create a good rapport is the foundation of building a good medical case. It allows you to diagnose better because the patient is more open with you. So for me, my teaching is geared towards building a personality that can carry medical information versus the other way around.”

  • Above all, Rao encourages his students to care.

    “What you need to care about is life,” he continues. “That’s more important. They need to think about themselves being in the position of the patient. That’s how I teach my students.”

Traits of Successful Medical Assistants

Rao has learned to recognize and help develop the characteristics that contribute to the success of future medical assistants. Successful medical assistants are often:

  • Supportive

  • Natural-born caretakers

  • Passionate about helping others

  • Compassionate

  • Professional

  • Punctual

  • Teamwork-oriented

  • Good communicators

“For those who are unsure about this field, I would say that becoming a medical assistant is a good beginning career. It’s a step in the door,” Rao says. “Obviously, I know many students who become medical assistants after they graduate, but I tell them that they can also build onto this career. There are so many options, but you have to feel professional. Don’t think this is just a job. If you don’t feel that profession in you, nobody can give it to you.”

Considering a career as a medical assistant? Learn more about the Medical Assistant program at Brightwood College.

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Brightwood College does not guarantee employment or advancement.