How to Prepare Medical Assistants for Jobs

Posted by on April 30, 2013

medical assistant program

Student Kelly Haines takes faculty member Kara Kalbus's blood pressure.

Staff and faculty at the Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center campus do their best to ensure that every graduate is fully prepared for the real world prior to graduation.  Alicia Larson, medical assistant program chair, wanted to give her students an extra boost, so she implemented two new activities into her Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Review course. 

CMA Review is the last course medical assisting students take before their externship, and Larson wanted to find a way to make her students more confident and better prepared for the field.  The course is designed for students to review material they have learned throughout the medical assistant program, and Larson added two opportunities to conduct mock situations in front of a panel.  The purpose is to see how well students take feedback and proceed with the information throughout the quarter.  Larson adopted this strategy from a colleague at the Globe University-Woodbury campus.

At the beginning of the quarter, each medical assisting student in the CMA Review course has the opportunity to do a mock rooming of a patient, and the patient is typically a staff member.  In front of a small panel of staff and faculty members, the students individually go through a series of steps, which begins in the waiting room.  The patient is called from the waiting room to head back into the exam room, and on the way, the student introduces herself/himself and weighs and measures the patient. 

After the patient is in the exam room, the student takes vitals and questions the patient about their symptoms.  Those on the panel watch the interactions carefully, noting potential HIPAA violations any essential pieces that were or were not completed during the rooming process.

Following the patient interactions, the student has the opportunity to complete a short mock interview with the panel.  This helps the student get used to stressful situations and being questioned by more than one interviewer.  The student receives constructive criticism for the rooming process and the interview to think about.

Toward the end of the quarter, the medical assisting students have an opportunity to do the mock rooming and interview a second time.  This allows Larson to see how the student has improved.  While the mock rooming situation is the same, the interview is done differently.  After the interactions with the patient, the student leaves the room to change into a professional interview outfit.  The interview is then conducted by the small panel of staff and faculty in addition to clinic managers from confirmed externship sites for the next quarter.  The clinic managers then choose which student would fit best at each clinic.

Larson said, “The clinic managers have seemed to enjoy this process because they are able to express opinions as to which student would work best with their clinic setting.  Because the students fit in so well, more often than not they are being offered jobs before graduation.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!”

Feedback from the students has been positive since Larson implemented this new activity.  She said, “The nervousness decreases among the students, which is nice to see.  Several students have come back after completing their real interviews to say that the questions were easier to answer after dealing with the difficult ones during the mock interview.  Basically, the students are much more confident.”

Larson will continue to use this strategy in her CMA Review courses because of the immense benefits it has provided thus far.  For more information on the medical assistant program at the Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center campus, please call 763-566-7777.

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