How to hire the right medical assistant for your practice
How to hire the right medical assistant for your practice

The healthcare industry is full of employment options for those with the right combination of medical knowledge, management experience and interpersonal competencies, but the candidate-driven labor market has made it difficult to staff these open positions. Today's job seekers have a surplus of career opportunities at their fingertips, so it's no surprise that many hospitals and private practices have struggled to track down high-quality medical assistants. One reason this role is so difficult to fill is that doctors and other patient care providers need assistants with diverse clinical and administrative skill sets, according to Rasmussen College. But this complexity doesn't have to slow down your recruitment efforts.

What to look for in a medical assistant
First, it's important to point out that hiring the perfect medical assistant often depends on your specific practice area, as each specialization has its own nuances. Finding the right fit for your practice starts with a thorough assessment of the specific tasks you need an assistant to perform. While most experienced applicants will likely have some familiarity with healthcare administration and clinical best practices, it's important to keep an eye out for the exact proficiencies you're looking for. Here are some of the qualifications you may want to consider before onboarding your next medical assistant:

  • Medical certifications: Whether an applicant is fresh out of college or at a midpoint in their career, official certification from a recognized medical organization is paramount. Candidates who are fully certified by the American Association of Medical Assistants are more likely to possess the specialized knowledge and expertise you need, as the organization is known for upholding high standards of education and credentialing.
  • Patient care experience: For private practices that regularly administer direct patient care, real-world experience can be a key differentiator during the recruitment process. Job seekers who understand how to measure a patient's vitals, administer injections and perform CPR are often better equipped to step into a medical assistant role without additional training.
  • Administrative skills: Medical assistants that spend a lot of time at the front desk should be well versed in scheduling, customer service and computer literacy. They should also have at least some familiarity with how to properly handle electronic medical records to avoid potential liability or compliance issues. Additionally, since professionals in this role are often responsible for maintaining patient relationships, interpersonal skills are a must.
  • Multi-tasking and versatility: Modern healthcare facilities and private practices are fast-paced work environments, as there's no telling when and where a patient emergency may require a medical assistant to step in. Professionals in this field must be able to quickly adapt to the needs of their employer, which may entail switching between clinical and administrative duties through their day.

4 essential medical assistant interview questions
Once you've located a promising applicant, it's important to ask the right questions to get a stronger sense of their core competencies. While most standard interview strategies are applicable, there are a variety of focus areas that can help you determine whether a candidate is a good fit for your practice. According to employment research from Indeed, the following interview questions ranked at the top of the list:

  • How can you, as a medical assistant, ensure that you're protecting patients' privacy and upholding HIPAA regulations?
  • In your previous work or internship experiences, have you been responsible for taking client histories or checking patient vitals?
  • What is your experience with front-end office tasks, and are you comfortable answering phone calls and greeting patients at the door?
  • Have you ever received formal training with electronic health records software?

Hiring the right medical assistant takes time, patience and a lot of consistent effort, which is why you should always look for opportunities to streamline your recruiting practices. Keep in mind, the current labor market is highly competitive, so waiting too long to call an applicant in for an interview could cause you to miss out on a perfect fit.

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