A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant
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Interview with a Medical Assistant

May 17, 2013

BY: Shannon Dauphin Lee

Patricia Angeles-Suarez has worked for six years as a specialized medical assistant in a major medical facility. Her qualifications include:

  • Associate degree in science from Silicon Valley College
  • Numerous certifications, including Phlebotomy and Injections, Anatomy and Physiology, EKG Certification, Sterilization and Autoclaving, Keyboarding and Typing, and Medical Assisting Back and Front Office

Q: Who do you interact with everyday and how?

A: I interact with everyone! From doctors and patients to pharmacies and case workers. I tend to communicate constantly with patients because my work is patient centered. We have our own "call center," which means that there is no middle man, and patients may call during our operating hours. So when the phone rings, I'm right there to answer.

I also "room" patients, which means that I take their vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, oxygen and weight, and sometimes the occasional electrocardiogram, or EKG as we call them), and I prepare patients for our doctors. I interact with doctors as much as patients, as I assist them with anything the patient needs, such as scheduling appointments, preparing their schedules and faxing paperwork.

Q: What skill sets do you feel you are building at your current role?

A: I truly believe that you can always build on skills as well as learn at any age. I am strengthening my customer service and my medical knowledge every day. You go to school to build a foundation of learning, and then work because you are building on that foundation and you grow with experience. I have become more business-oriented in my years as a medical assistant and have found that my professionalism has improved.

Working in this great organization that I am in allows me versatility and the opportunity to learn different specialties in medicine. I started in the area of pediatrics, learning how to properly take babies' temperature and measurements, and give children and adolescents injections. I've moved on since then to cardiology and medicine subspecialties, learning about topics ranging from cardiac stents to the inner workings of ligaments and cartilage. So in short, I am constantly building my knowledge of the medical field and learning new aspects of patient care and strengthening my customer service.

Q: Please tell us about your career path.

A: I started at a technical school called Silicon Valley College in Fremont, Calif., and during my first two years, I did a teen employment program through my current employer that employs teens aged 15-20 to work during the summer. I worked in the grievances department and experienced medical customer service first-hand -- I was able to help with sending letters to customers and preparing charts for the grievance coordinator before she was to have meetings. She taught me that people were the most important aspect of the health industry, and to always put them first. This opened up many opportunities for me in the medical field.

After I had finished with school and the teen program, I was called back by the same department and asked to be a temporary employee for the summer, as they had said I was an asset to their team. After that, I worked in a temporary position in an OB/GYN clinic in Fremont, and then was hired permanently by a private clinic. I was originally hired as a receptionist and handled billing, front desk reception, phone triage and insurance. I then got absorbed into medical assisting and did both reception and back office medical assisting. I gained a lot of experience including minor procedures such as circumcision, injections and breathing treatments as well as charting, filing, phone triage and time management.

In 2007, the private clinic that I had worked at got absorbed by the very first company I started out in, and as soon as I knew it, I'm back where I had started. I then moved from the pediatrics department to cardiology and subspecialties department and have been here ever since.

Q: How do you see this position evolving over the next 10 years?

A: Medical assisting is a growing industry. From a professional standpoint, I've seen many positions like licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) being eliminated because medical assistants (MAs) have taken over those positions. California is in the process of mandatory certification for their medical assistants as the industry has been growing and it seems to me that there is as much demand for MAs as there is for registered nurses (RNs).

More technical schools are offering comprehensive training for MAs and are opening up just because that industry has boomed so much over the past few years. It's a lucrative and competitive industry, and different countries, such as Australia, may have great need for medical assistants. I believe that the need for medical assistants in the next 10 years will increase and the pay could become extremely competitive.

Q: What kind of questions can a medical assistant expect to hear at their first job interview?

A: Here are some possible questions:

  • Why are you interested in working as a medical assistant? What drives you?
  • Do you prefer to work alone, or in a group?
  • How well do you work under pressure?
  • Give me a situation where you had a problem and you resolved it.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you enjoy most about being a medical assistant?

Please note: This interview does not represent the opinions of Healthcare Colleges, and job responsibilities and opportunities in this career may vary.