The medical assistant externship is all about you! It is an important part of your vocational training and signifies the point of transition from being a vocational student to becoming a qualified medical assistant. Although most students have some apprehension about going into their externship they usually find it to be a highly rewarding experience once it begins.
It’s all about you!
Time to roll up your sleeves and shine! You are now at the point where expectations and responsibilities shift from the instructor to you to prove your skills. You, as a medical assistant program senior, are now expected to perform duties that were previously taught and practiced in the classroom in an actual medical office setting. You are not only given a chance to put your knowledge to work, but also refine and solidify these skills by interacting with real patients, nurses and doctors on their “turf”… so, show what you know! It is time to show your professionalism – it’s your time to shine
The medical assisting externship is your chance to put everything that was taught in the classroom to practical use in a real medical office environment. In other words: your chance to show what you know and step up to the task with confidence and pride!
Setting up the externship site…
A good school usually has already established a contact list of possible externship sites within the community and the teaching staff makes the necessary arrangements to set everything up. Their goal is to carefully match their students with a suitable externship site. Shortly before the externship begins, the student may be asked to interview with the physician or office manager at the suggested facility. He, or she is expected to treat this interview exactly as if it was an actual job interview. This is an important step in preparation for the highly competitive job market, or the “real world”.
Anxiety is a basic human emotion consisting of fear and uncertainty that typically appears when an individual perceives an event as being a threat to the ego or self-esteem (Sarason, 1988). It creates the feelings of fear, apprehension, or worry, however, anxiety is normal, it is a common emotion medical assistant students share and has nothing to do with how they will perform at their externship site.
Russ B tells us in our Medical Assistant Forum Jobs from your externship: “… Just keep in mind as you do your externship, its the longest job interview you will ever go through. I kept that in mind and two weeks after I finished my externship they hired me on full time but on a temp basis. To this day, I’m still working there. Just keep yourself busy at all times when the workload is slow. Things that I did during slow periods was help with boxing up old charts, sterilizing surgical instruments, learning front office skills, which has paid off for me. Show them that you are a team player and that their team cannot operate without you.”
You must be willing to help with the smaller duties, like cleaning and sanitizing examination rooms and equipment, pulling and filing patient’s charts and sometimes answering the phones, as well as tackling some of the more critical tasks, such as assisting with patient intake and doing basic clinical procedures, such as rooming patients, taking vital signs and immediately reporting any unusual results and observations to the doctor or your supervisor.
Externship means: Step up and speak up!
Questions about your training are best directed to your instructors at the school, but any questions regarding your work schedule, attire, work hours and performance can be discussed with the medical office manager or supervisor at the externship site.
Be open minded:
Make it your goal to remain open-minded throughout your entire stay. Nothing works better and leaves a better impression than a person’s willingness to observe and learn new and unfamiliar procedures. Ultimately, you will prove that you are able to recognize certain tasks that need to be done and do them as you were shown.
Know office policies:
It is recommended that you read the office policy handbook during the first few days and note any memos on the bulletin boards. Also, make sure you know how to locate emergency equipment, emergency exits, fire extinguishers and emergency telephone numbers.
Always remember that while performing at the externship site you are a guest of the facility and will be expected to follow the same office policies that the employees do. You must wear appropriate work attire, such as a uniform that identifies you as a student, or wearing an identification badge. Be neat, clean and professional in appearance.
Adhere to confidentiality rules:
Also remember that confidentiality guidelines apply to the externship student on an externship, as well as the hired staff. No information regarding a patient should be discussed outside the office for any reason, including with the faculty supervisors, without express consent of the client and the externship site’s office supervisor.
Steer clear from gossip:
Do not gossip, complain, interrupt, or insist that the office is performing a skill differently than you learned in school. You should not have excessive personal phone calls on the site. If there are problems on the externship, you should first speak to the site supervisor and if no resolution is obtained, the school supervisor get involved.
Be a good communicator:
You must learn to communicate with supervisors and not allow problems to go unresolved. You should not ask or expect the physician to treat you, or your family members, if an illness should occur during the externship period. Do not expect, or ask the physician to dispense any medications from the office.
Take it in strides, and take it serious:
The professional externship extends the medical assistant’s education to an actual work site and is an important part of the vocational training.
Performance and attendance are carefully tracked and reported back to the medical assistant student’s school. Attendance, punctuality and team work are indicators of reliability and professionalism. Midway of the externship the student will be evaluated by the office supervisor and will be given a final evaluation on the last day of completion.