Expectations during a Medical Assistant Externship
Updated August 17, 2021
You can learn a lot in the classroom, but you can’t learn everything, especially if you are studying to be a medical assistant. It’s a job that requires extensive medical knowledge as well as skills and professional attributes that can only be gained through hands-on experience. At the Allen School of Health Sciences, as in most medical assistant programs, that comes in the form of an externship that is made up of 275 hours in a health care facility. We want to prepare our students for all aspects of the work. As such, we have developed 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. However, the moment you apply that knowledge in the real world with real patients, even the simplest tasks like taking blood pressure can be daunting. The good news is that you are not alone.
Your supervisor will work with you closely, especially at the beginning, to ensure you remember everything you’ve learned in class. This will enable you to feel comfortable administering your duties. In addition to acting as a guide, of sorts, your supervisor may also serve as your safety net to ensure you don’t miss anything. This aspect of supervision can and should relieve a lot of pressure. It is common to feel nervous before you’ve gained your skill, practice, and habits, but a supervisor’s presence should assuage your fears.
You will also be able to observe her as well as others perform procedures that you will 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 your supervisor and others set will give you more opportunities to learn before you perform a task yourself.
Asking a Thousand Questions
Your medical assistant externship should be a time to unleash your curiosity. These 275 hours may be training hours, but they are also an opportunity to learn all aspects of a job from the professionals who are doing the job. In class, you will learn about best practices and may have already asked why different medical procedures are done a certain way. In your externship, you can ask less technical questions such as “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 personalized and will help the answers stick.
Learning the Role
A major 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 are skills, critical to the position, that you can only learn in your medical assistant externship and you will learn them. As you practice and watch the professionals around you, you’ll understand the interpersonal aspects of the work and you will excel at them. When you begin your externship, you may feel like a student. Ideally, by the time you leave, you can expect to feel like you fit the role of a medical assistant.
At the end of your externship you can expect to feel confident in your abilities to be a medical assistant. Self-confidence is a huge part of any healthcare job. This can be challenging for educators as it cannot be learned in a textbook or seminar. Gaining confidence in your ability to perform administrative and clinical duties requires practice, real-life experience, and supportive supervision. It requires, in other words, an externship. You won’t just learn how to be a medical assistant: You will become one.
At the Allen School of Health Sciences, we are committed to preparing our medical assistant students for employment as soon as they graduate. This is the reason why externships are such a critical component of our curriculum. If you are interested in becoming a medical assistant, you can earn your certificate in less than a year. We are enrolling now for our summer classes. As always, we would love to hear from you! Visit www.allenschool.edu to learn more about an exciting career as a medical assistant.