Quick and efficient
Rationale: Is there a lab result that needs to be delivered? Have you given the patient chart to the physician for review? Have you obtained all the necessary samples from the patient to deliver to the lab? These questions should be constantly running through your mind to insure that you are moving the patient through the system as quickly as possible. Fast discharge times not only impress the patient being treated, but also uplift the patients in the waiting room as well. Being a medical facility with fast turn around times broadcasts a notion that you are an institution that gets the job done quickly and efficiently. This not only brings more patients in because of word of mouth, but it is job security because you are keeping an ongoing stream of patients coming in.
A long break
Rationale: Some days are busier than others. On the slow days, you may have a few hours to yourself to help clean or sit and read a book. On other days, it may be so non-stop that you won’t have time to sit at all. It is not guaranteed that you will always have time to take for a long break. You must remind yourself in these times that you have chosen this field of work to help people, and they are the number one priority. If you need to eat, grab a quick bite and go. You need to multi-task your own needs into your day along with everything else. If you have a dire situation arise, communicate with a co-worker to see if they can cover for you, and get your situation handled quickly. Every shift isn’t ideal, but you serve a greater purpose in healthcare and the people need you there focused and attentive at all times.
Take a break
Rationale: It is easy to get distracted during your shift when you are tired and hungry. Everyone goes through this. However, you need to stay committed to the task at hand, and see it through until it is complete. If a patient is waiting, and there are elements to their care that need to be complete, you should never take a break until your interaction with that patient is over. This should include labs that need processed, communications with the physician, or vitals and patient histories. There is almost assuredly going to be a point in the day when you will be able to sit down and rest. You really should wait for those opportunities so you don’t short change the care you are giving your client.
Offer your assistance
Rationale: If you work in a facility that has multiple MA’s on staff at any one time, you may divvy up the workloads differently. One may be responsible for rooming the patients and collecting vital signs and histories, while another performs all lab procedures. Or, you may take a patient at a time, and take care of your individual patient’s needs yourself. You may, however, get a day where you have gotten all the “easy” patients and your co-worker is pulling out their hair from frustration. If this is the case, offer your help. This not only builds a strong relationship between you and your coworkers, but also improves the efficiency of the workplace. This may also reciprocate itself later on when you have a horrible day and need help of your own.
Filling out patient charts
Rationale: Have you finished your portion of the patient’s care, only to have the physician not ready to see the patient yet? This is a common occurrence in medical facilities. It isn’t because the physician is ignoring the patients. The reality of the situation is that physicians sometimes spend a large amount of time researching the patient’s current condition and filling out patient charts. If they don’t maintain a consistent rhythm with the charts, they can pile up and require a lot of time to catch up. If your patient is waiting for long periods of time in the exam room, touch base with them to make sure they are still comfortable. Offer them blankets if they are cold, offer to bring them a magazine to read while they wait. These are small things, but can go a long way to make a person more comfortable while they wait.
Your own perceptions
Rationale: It is important to constantly stay in communication with the physicians at your facility. You take patient histories, but sometimes the best insight about a patient can come from your own perceptions. Make sure you share your thoughts about a patient’s current condition before the physician walks into the room. Sometimes you can give the physician an edge when dealing with a potential difficult patient personality. It is also important to touch base with the physician when you finish different points of the patient’s care. This will help keep the appointment running at a constant pace to get the patient on their way as soon as possible.
Rationale: During the course of your work day, the speed of the job may accelerate to uncomfortable paces. It is important that a medical assistant be able to adapt to these changes smoothly. It may be a requirement to juggle multiple patients at the same time, and working with multiple aspects of each individuals care. This is known as multi-tasking. For example, you may need to take a urine sample from a patient and begin that lab processing, enter another patient’s exam room and take a history, move onto another patient’s room to check on their current breathing treatment, walk back into the lab and check on the results of the urinalysis, return to the patient to turn off the breathing treatment, take a request from the physician to obtain a throat culture on the second patient while delivering the urine results of the first patient. And all of this can happen in 10 minutes. Remember to breath, and stay calm. It will all be over soon.
Personal calls and emails
Rationale: When you have a number of tasks being thrown at you in any one second, it can be easy to get distracted from time to time. Try not to pay attention to personal things such as phone calls or emails while you are at work. It is important to try and remind yourself to stay calm, and realign your focus back to the work at hand if you feel your attention beginning to slip. When you get distracted, this could increase the wait time of not only the patients currently being served, but also of the potential patients in the waiting room as well. If you begin to move too slow, those people could leave and attempt to get cared for at another facility. You do not want the reputation of being a slow facility.
Room them as quickly as possible
Rationale: When patients are sitting in the waiting room, time slows down for them. If you will notice, not a lot of waiting rooms have clocks in them; this is for that very specific reason. To make patients feel as if they are getting closer to being helped, make sure you advance the patients to an exam room as quickly as possible. The physician doesn’t necessarily need to be ready to see them yet, but it goes a long way towards making the patient feel as if the physician is. Take the vitals, get a history, and let them know the physician will be with them as soon as possible. Waiting in the exam room is a lot easier than in the waiting room because at least they are in the process of being examined.
Call off of work
Rationale: In some medical facilities, there is a limited staff on hand. It is important to remember that you are a crucial part of the team, and that your presence is invaluable. That being said, if you are not feeling well, you may need to call off of work. But, try not to call off, unless you are a liability to the patients themselves. Not feeling well is not a strong enough reason when you have patients that are severely ill entering the facility you work at. There may even be an opportunity to work an area of the medical facility with less patient interaction that would still help everyone stay productive such as answering phones or performing the lab procedures. Sometimes you just have to buckle up, and be uncomfortable for a shift to serve the greater good.