medical assistant

Guest Post from Taylor - What I've Learned Being a Medical Assistant (Dermatology)

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Taylor has done some guest posts in the past, and if you haven't met her yet, she's my work (and real life) BFF and medical assistant that I work with most of the time. We're basically side by side for 8 hours while we're at the office, and we share a love of Taylor Swift, vacations, and crab cakes among many other things. Taylor is currently on her own journey to becoming a PA, and I'm thankful that she's sharing some of what she's learned along the way. 

If you're interested in how being a medical assistant can help you towards your PA goals, here's some insight into what you can hope to gain from this type of patient care experience. If you have the luxury of getting certified as a medical assistant, check out The PA Platform Search Engine to see if there's a program near you that fits your needs and get more information

When I first started as medical assistant, I had zero experience in the medical field. I had no idea what BID or TID meant, had no idea how to spell medications (Well, I still don’t. Spelling is not my strength. Ask Savanna.), and did not know a 30-gauge needle from a 15’ blade. 

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I had just graduated with a degree in public relations and had a whopping four science and math classes during my college career. The office that I worked in trained me on sight, which was quite a risk for them. I am not too familiar with Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) programs, but I am sure those students going into jobs find it easier than I did. I had a lot of learning to do and had to catch on quickly. Medical terminology and understanding how a medical practice functions were some of the first lessons that I had to learn.

I started off working at the front desk, but eventually began working full time as our PA’s medical assistant. Even from the beginning of my experience in the medical field, being able to interact with patients and assist the physician was my favorite part. I enjoyed learning about dermatology through being in the exam room with her. There is so much that you can learn while listening to a physician examine a patient!

We get to see some very interesting cases and no day is quite the same as the last. Being a medical assistant has taught me how to multi-task and how to work as a team. The biggest and most valuable lesson that being a medical assistant has taught me is that I really do want a career in the medical field. Being able to see the impact you can have on someone and the chance you get to improve someone’s quality of life is very rewarding.

My experience as a medical assistant has led me to pursue becoming a physician assistant and I do not think I would have known this without taking a risk and trying something new. Make the most of every opportunity that you are given, you never know where it might lead you! 

Other Posts from Taylor: 

If you would like to share how your experience has helped you in achieving your goals of becoming a PA, email to contribute. 

Guest Post: 10 Tips to be the Best Medical Assistant (MA)


Taylor's back guys!  I have to admit that Taylor is the best MA I have ever worked with because she does all of these things she's listed and more.  I know it can be a busy and exhausting job, but if your goal is to become a PA, you want to make the best impression possible and secure that amazing letter of recommendation.  If you missed Taylor's first post about why she's decided to go back to school to become a PA, then check it out here.  

  1. Know your provider. - I have worked with the same PA for over two years, and with that time comes a knowledge of how she practices. I can quote verbatim the side effects of many drugs and know which medications she likes to prescribe and how she likes the flow of her schedule to run. While this takes time to learn, I have found it is very helpful for staying on schedule and running a smooth clinic
  2. Always be willing to pitch in - In the practice where I work, each provider only has one medical assistant assigned to them. During down times when the PA does not have patients, I am asked to help other providers out when I can. I always try to do this with a smile on my face because teamwork makes the dream work.
  3. Time Management - I like to make the most of my quiet mornings before patients get in, as well as my lunch break, to keep up with my PA’s schedule and check and make sure that patients are scheduled correctly and that our exam rooms are fully stocked.
  4. Take advantage of learning opportunities  - At the practice where I work, we have been given the opportunity to train in many different procedures such as laser and photodynamic therapy, as well as chemical peels. Any chance to learn more, go for it (and actually pay attention). I love going to drug rep dinners with the PA I work with and getting to learn exactly how the medications we prescribed work. You are never too old to learn!
  5. Don’t think that you are above or below any task- When I was first starting off in the medical field, I thought some tasks I was given were pretty mundane and menial. I have come to learn this is not a reflection of my intelligence, but is necessary. The simplest task I have at work is to assemble shave biopsy kits, which any fifth grader could do. But without these kits, the providers would be unable to do one of the most important procedures that allow for the diagnosis of skin cancer. These shave kits could potentially be saving someone’s life!
  6. Don’t let one patient ruin your entire day - One of the most exciting things about working in the medical field, as well as one of the most stressful, is that you can never predict exactly how the day will go. There is always the one complicated patient that takes a little longer then you have allotted, and needs a little more TLC or hand holding than others. This can often throw off your schedule and can at time cause tempers to rise. Always remember to take a deep breath and take your day one patient at a time.
  7. Be Organized - Any type of career in the medical field requires some degree of organization. It is difficult to manage around 30 patients a day, as well as answering phone calls, and keeping up with pathology, without having a system. I do not like to leave things undone, so the best feeling for me is leaving work at the end of the day with an empty inbox. The combination of organization and time management can be the most helpful in running a smooth clinic.
  8. Evaluate Often - If something is not working, never be afraid to ask why and be willing to seek out ways to make your practice and office better. Savanna and I have had several conversations after certain crazy days to evaluate what is working and what is not working.
  9. Always Be Attentive - One of the most valuable assets to being a great MA is the ability to be one step ahead of your provider. Being able to predict what they might need for a procedure or what samples a patient would benefit from keeps your schedule running smoothly. I feel like I am the biggest help to my provider when they don’t even have to ask me for things that they might need.     
  10. Have a good attitude. - This may sound simple and obvious, but makes the biggest difference in your work environment. Just a simple smile and a willingness to serve others can brighten someone’s day and allow for unity and less drama in the workplace. 

These tips can translate to many other healthcare positions besides medical assistants.  I hope they've been good reminders that you can take with you into work.  I love Taylor's positivity and commitment to the patients we see.  I can't even pick a favorite because I like all of her tips so much.  What tips would you add for being the best medical assistant?