Importance of Professionalism in Medical Assisting

Posted On February 9,2024

When you begin your career as a medical assistant, professionalism in the workplace is crucial. No matter who you interact with during your day, you need to ensure that you are giving everyone the right impression of you, and that impression is that you are capable, competent, and someone who can be trusted in a medical setting. If you give the impression that you are not professional, you will have a difficult time getting patients and clinical staff to trust you to do your job effectively.

Medical assistant talking to a patient in a hospital bed.

The Role of a Medical Assistant: Why is Professionalism Important? 

As a medical assistant, you will be interacting with people all day long, all of whom need to trust you. Medical assistants work with patients, other medical staff, and families. Professionalism is important in every interaction you have. It creates a positive and efficient work environment, minimizes mistakes, and allows both patients and colleagues to trust you. When you are trusted and looked at as a respected medical professional, you can be more effective at your job.

Looking Professional as a Medical Assistant

It’s easy to say that it shouldn’t matter what you look like as long as you do your job as a medical assistant well, but looking professional is part of being professional. Seeing a professionally dressed and groomed medical assistant can provide assurance to patients and other clinical staff that they are in good hands. In most roles as a medical assistant, you’ll have a uniform provided by the medical facility, often consisting of scrubs. 

Looking professional means making sure that your scrubs are clean and fit well, your shoes are clean and appropriate for the role, and your name tag or badge is always visible. Your hair should be kept neat and clean, and long hair should be pulled back from your face. Jewelry should be minimal and non-distracting. Medical assistants should always look clean and well-groomed, but be wary of scented products, as they can be an issue for many patients. 

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Professional Communication Minimizes Misunderstandings and Medical Errors

Medical assistants need to be excellent at communication with both patients and other medical staff. Part of being professional as a medical assistant is communicating in a professional manner. Communication with patients should be warm and empathetic, but also polite and respectful. Although it is always appropriate to be friendly, especially when building rapport with patients, it’s important to avoid crossing the line to overly familiar or worse – condescending, as many patients may be turned off by a medical professional referring to them as “honey” or “sweetie”. In addition to how you communicate, what you say is important too. Never offer your medical opinion, as this can have legal repercussions if a patient or colleague feels you are offering a diagnosis. Make sure you understand your responsibilities in what needs to be communicated to the patient or medical staff and do so effectively.

Medical Assistants Need to be Dependable

If you want to be successful as a medical assistant, you need to be dependable. This means that you follow your schedule, avoid excessive absences, arrive on time at the start of your day and from breaks ready to work, follow orders, and are always prepared for anything that may be asked of you. The most successful medical assistants are always prepared with the appropriate supplies for their role, such as clipboards, office supplies, exam room setup, and anything else that may be needed. The days are often busy for medical assistants, and a quality medical assistant needs to be able to juggle a variety of tasks without getting overwhelmed. The medical staff needs to be able to rely on you to help make the practice run smoothly.

Confidentiality is Crucial

As a medical assistant, you will have access to a good amount of sensitive information about patients, their conditions, their families, and other concerns. When talking to friends and family about your job, you may be tempted to share stories about your patients, but this is never a good idea. Being professional as a medical assistant means understanding confidentiality requirements and always upholding the strict standards required. Not only is this important to maintaining a professional reputation, but there are serious consequences to breaking confidentiality in healthcare. Never share any confidential information with anyone outside the office, share only the relevant information with colleagues, and never make copies of any medical files unless explicitly asked to do so. 

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Self-Evaluation is Key

When you wait for someone to point out an issue with your behavior or performance, you are already behind. As a medical assistant, take time to periodically look at yourself and evaluate your own behavior. Are you arriving on time, prepared for your day, or are you getting in late? Are you always well-groomed with clean scrubs, or are you showing up with messy hair and wrinkled scrubs? Are you communicating effectively, or are your patients and colleagues always asking for clarification? When you take the time to look at yourself, you can remedy any issues before a supervisor needs to point them out.

When you are training to become a medical assistant, you will work on developing “soft skills” alongside your medical knowledge and clinical skills. These soft skills are what will help you present yourself in the best and most professional way to everyone you interact with as a medical assistant. For success as a medical assistant, you need your professional demeanor to be just as strong as your clinical knowledge. If you’ve been considering a job in healthcare, now is a great time to pursue a career as a medical assistant. Contact Athena Career Academy to learn more about our flexible class schedule and enroll today!