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If you’re planning on becoming a Medical Assistant (MA), then learning how to effectively communicate with your patients will be essential to your success.

Why Are Good Communication Skills Essential to Medical Assistants?

In order for the patient to get the best care possible, medical assistants must be able to give them specific directions and instructions that are clear, precise, and easy to follow.

What Could Cause Miscommunication Between a Medical Assistant & Their Patient(s)?

MedAsst1There are several reasons that may cause miscommunications between a MA and the patient. First, the patient could be elderly and suffer from hearing loss or dementia, making it hard for them to understand you. Second, the patient could have mental health issues or suffer from an addiction to drugs & alcohol. If the latter, it could distort their perception of what's going on. At other times, the patient may be distracted with other personal matters like taking care of a small child or be occupied on their cell phone. Other miscommunication can happen because the patient could be in intense physical pain or discomfort, they may not speak English, or they have some trust issues with healthcare professionals.

How Can Medical Assistants Improve Their Communication Skills?

Essentially, medical assistants can improve their communication skills by taking the following suggestions:

  • Pay closer attention to the words you’re using when you’re with a patient.
  • Always mind your manners when you’re speaking to a patient.
  • Put more effort into to listening to each patient you encounter.

How Can I Pay Closer Attention to the Words I Use With a Patient?

Medical Assistants should use basic words and phrases instead of medical or anatomical terms that your patients might not understand. Always substitute the word medicine for drug, and never use any form of slang or profanity when speaking. Additionally, you should never openly share observations or make jokes that some people might find offensive.

How Can I Mind My Manners When Speaking to a Patient?

When speaking with patients, medical assistants should use a subtle, non-intimidating tone of voice that makes them appear calm, cool, and collected. Try practicing some patience and give your patients the time they need to respond to your questions. If an elderly person has a caregiver, don’t exclude them from your conversation. Lastly, never interrupt a patient while they’re speaking to you, no matter how behind schedule you may be.

How Can I Put More Effort Into Listening to Each Patient?

Medical assistants should give their undivided attention when communicating with their patients. They should suspend any form of judgment they might have while the patient is explaining their symptoms, no matter how outrageous or over exaggerated they might sound. In addition, pay more attention to the facts the patient is sharing with you as opposed to their assumptions. Reinforce that you’re listening to them by repeating information they’ve shared with you for clarification purposes.

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Where Can I Get the Training I Need to Become a Medical Assistant?

Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH has a Medical Assistant Program in which students can graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assistant degree in only two years.

For more information on this program, contact the MA Program Manager, Kimberly Ephlin, by email at ephlink@hocking.edu or by phone at (740) 380-9315 (ext. 6602).

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