How to Make Your Externship Successful!

Article Categories: What is a Medical Assistant & Externship/Internship

An externship is an exciting opportunity to practice your skills in a clinical setting. Every day is different--by the time you complete your externship, you’ll already have some tricks and tips. When you can see how to apply your training in practical ways, you start to gain experience that will be useful for your entire career.

How can you make the most of your externship? Here are ten ways!

1. Discuss the plan. Make time to meet with your preceptor or supervisor to go over what you will be doing. Let him or her know if there is something in particular that you’d like to know more about or practice. Don’t leave this important time to chance.

2. Pretend you’ve been hired. Be on time, dress appropriately, and follow all office policies. Leave your cell phone in your purse or locker. No personal calls or texts!

3. Follow instructions. This seems obvious, but it’s more important than you may know. In the beginning, your supervisor will be evaluating how well you complete tasks. This will influence how much you’ll be allowed to do during your externship.

4. Watch closely and pay attention. You will have the chance to be close to professionals who can teach you to be competent. Listen carefully and make a list of questions to discuss at a convenient time.

5. Don’t be shy about practicing your skills. That’s why you’re there! This is your chance to take what you learned in the classroom and lab, and get real-world experience. Use every day to get better and more organized.

6. Stay positive and upbeat. At some point, you’ll make a mistake. Don’t be discouraged--it truly happens to everyone. Report when it happens. Ask for feedback, ways to improve, and how to avoid the same mistake in the future.

7. Ask for help. If there is something you don’t understand or aren’t familiar with, don’t feel silly about seeking help. Everyone was once a beginner. Usually your colleagues will be happy to explain things, if you simply ask.

8. Don’t take things personally. If a patient is upset or angry, often it’s his situation, not you. Stay calm and remember that feeling sick is scary for most people.

9. Practice your “People Skills.” One of the important roles for a MA is to make patients feel comfortable. An externship is a great way to develop ways to greet and talk with patients in every situation. The art of “small talk” is valuable. If it’s something you haven’t done, watch others and follow their lead. It’s easier than you think.

10. Say “Thank You.” At the end of your practicum, express gratitude to everyone who helped you. Send a personal thank you note to your supervisor, as well as anyone who made your experience outstanding.

Your externship can be an important step to your future. Work hard and take advantage of every learning experience. Remember to relax and have fun, too!

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