Medical Assistant Skills List and Examples

medical_assistant_506651215.jpg
Copyright Steve Debenport / E+ / Getty Images

Medical assistants work alongside doctors, performing a wide variety of tasks, from helping patients and performing minor procedures to handling administrative work.

Medical assistants work mainly in facilities that handle outpatient procedures or ambulatory care, as opposed to hospitals that typically have larger, more specialized staffs. While there is some overlap between medical assistants and other medical support staff, such as nursing assistants, medical assistants have a distinct role and skill set.

How to Use Skills List

To become a medical assistant, you will need to complete a training program, but you will not need a license. Your training will prepare you to do the job, but the following discussion of skills can help you think more clearly about what skills you possess as you prepare your resume and cover letter. Different employers may emphasize different skills when hiring staff, so be sure to read job descriptions carefully so you will know which skills to focus on. Be ready to provide examples of how you embody each skill as your interviewer will most likely ask for such explanations (though you must maintain patient confidentiality at all times).

Top 5 Medical Assistant Skills

Medical assistants are called on to use several different skill types as they complete tasks that might otherwise be done by a doctor, a nurse, or by a receptionist or administrative assistant.

Basic Office Skills
These office skills are similar to what you would find in any administrative assistant job in any field.

You’ll need telephone courtesy, strong written and verbal communication, and strong customer service skills. You will have to handle correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping, and you’ll have to troubleshoot computer problems. Note that if you have experience with particular systems and software, you should mention that in your resume.

Medical Administrative Skills
There are also administrative skills specific to a medical setting. These include monitoring inventories of medical supplies and ordering more as needed, scheduling appointments and arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services, updating patient records, and recording medical histories. Handling billing will involve processing insurance forms, reconciling co-pays, resolving insurance billing problems, and advocating for patients with their insurance companies.

Medical Skills
Medical assistants are not doctors or nurses, but can and must provide simple medical and nursing care under the direction of doctors. You will be asked to administer medications, including injections, apply dressings, draw blood, remove sutures, and convey information from doctors to patients and from patients to doctors. You’ll have to follow infection control and safety guidelines and quality control standards as you sterilize and set up instruments, maintain medical equipment, and prepare treatment rooms for patient examinations.  When you apply, be sure to specify any related certifications you may have.

Patient Interaction
Medical assistants often work directly with patients, so you will need a whole set of skills related to both customer service and what might loosely be called “bedside manner.” You will need to explain medical instructions and information in clear, non-technical language.

You’ll need to receive, interview, and sometimes even triage patients. You’ll need to remain calm and supportive with distressed or difficult patients. Fluency in a second or third language helps. And of course, you’ll have to maintain confidentiality

Personal Qualities
As for any position, emphasize the personal qualities you possess that make you the best person for that particular job. You will have to be detail-oriented, committed to accuracy, empathic, and adaptable. You must be able to multitask. You must know your own limitations so that you can take care of yourself and remain healthy for your patients and colleagues. You should be well-organized and able to prioritize and problem-solve. You should collaborate well with your team-mates.

Medical assistants serve a vital role in healthcare, performing tasks that more specialized personnel do not have time to do.

If you get into this line of work, you will truly be able to say that patients receive better care, and have better lives, because of you.

List of Medical Assistant Skills

Administrative Skills in the Medical Field
These skills show your skills with medical-related administrative practices that are typical in medical offices. They also demonstrate your understanding of the medical field, current regulations and insurance practices.

  • Advocating for Patients with Insurance Companies
  • Arranging for Hospital Admissions and Laboratory Services
  • Completing Patient Records After Exams and Test Results
  • Entering Data for Medical Test Results
  • Facility with Medical Practice Software
  • Identifying Best Suppliers by Price and Quality
  • Maintaining Confidentiality
  • Monitoring Inventory of Supplies
  • Ordering Medical Supplies
  • Processing Insurance Forms
  • Reconciling Co-Payments
  • Recording Medical Histories
  • Resolving Insurance Billing Problems
  • Scheduling Appointments
  • Screening Sales Reps

Basic Office Skills

These office skills show that you can handle standard office setups. Note specific experience with particular phone systems, PC vs. Mac and medical records management software.

  • Answering Telephones
  • Customer Service
  • Handling Correspondence, Billing and Bookkeeping
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Troubleshooting Computer Problems
  • Writing

Medical Skills

These skills show your depth of experience in performing medical tasks and procedures. Be sure to include any certifications you have.

  • Administering Medications According to Physician Specifications
  • Administering Injections
  • Applying Dressings
  • Arranging Prescription Refills
  • Conveying Information Supplied by Doctors to Patients
  • Drawing Blood
  • Following Infection Control and Safety Guidelines
  • Maintaining Medical Equipment
  • Maintaining Quality Control Standards
  • Performing Accurate Assessment of Vital Signs
  • Performing All Basic Life Support (BLS) Skills
  • Performing CPR
  • Performing EKGs
  • Preparing Treatment Rooms for  Examinations of Patients
  • Relaying Patient Questions to Health Professionals
  • Removing Sutures
  • Securing Blood and Urine Samples
  • Sterilizing and Setting Up Instruments

Patient Interaction

If you’re applying for a job that mostly involves working with patients, these skills will demonstrate which situations you can handle with competence. For an interview, be prepared to discuss specific experiences with patients and how you handled them (maintaining patient confidentiality, of course!).

  • Educating Patients Regarding Medication Instructions
  • Explaining Medical Information in Understandable Language
  • Explaining Procedures to Patients
  • Handling Difficult Personalities
  • Interviewing Patients
  • Preparing Patients for Exams
  • Receiving Patients
  • Remaining Calm with Distressed Patients
  • Triaging Patients

Personal Qualities

For any position, emphasize the personal qualities you possess that make you the best person for that particular job.

  • Accuracy
  • Active Listening
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • Detail Orientation
  • Empathy
  • Foreign language, such as Spanish
  • Interpersonal
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Multitasking
  • Organizational
  • Prioritizing
  • Problem Solving
  • Recognizing Limitations
  • Teamwork

More About Job Skills and Interviewing