Rationale: Every medical institution has its own set of standards on the dress of its employees. This is referred to as a dress code. It is important to adhere to these standards exactly, because the patients rely on this as a visual cue to who is helping them. The typical style of clothing are the scrubs. Some hospitals separate the departments by color. For example, nursing may be light blue, radiology may be navy blue, and transporters may be in green. Some facilities don’t wish for their employees to wear scrub tops with pictures of faces on them. Make sure you known your facilities policies before purchasing your uniform.
Rationale: When a patient visits an urgent care, or an emergency room, it is safe to say that it isn’t going to be their best day. It is critical to remember this when interacting with your patients. Always enter the examination room acting kind. You don’t need to baby the patient to let them know you care about their well being. But, show a sense of empathy and let them know that in the time that you spend with them, you are looking out for their best interest and that you will do everything you can to help them. This is something that can be done without words, but by action.
Make the patient comfortable while they wait
Rationale: Depending on the medical facility and the day of the week, you could either be slammed for an entire shift or have some personal time in a chair. The patients don’t get to choose how busy your facility is when they come in, they either have an appointment, or just show up. Unfortunately for the patient, this can dramatically extend their wait times in the waiting room and in the exam room. We should always be as efficient and fast as we can be, but, sometimes the patient’s needs stack up. If this becomes the case, let the patients that have been brought back to an exam room know the truth. Don’t give them time frames, but tell them the physician is held up at the moment, and will be in as soon they review the chart. Ask the patient if there is anything you can get them while they wait such as a blanket, or a glass of water. Remember, this is just as much customer service as it is patient care.
Rationale: Building a relationship with the patients is one thing, but don’t share personal information with the patients. There should always be a barrier between business and personal lives. What the patient chooses to tell you is their choice completely, but the medical assistant must always remember that they must keep things completely professional. Stick to matters that pertain directly to the patient and their care. It is ok to bring up things in your personal life such as having a child or the fact that you are married, if you feel it allows you to build a bond that can help you strengthen the patient relationship. But, when you are first starting out, play it safe and keep the details to a minimum until you can safely navigate the differences. This is to protect yourself.
Rationale: When working in a professional environment like a medical facility, there is an expectation that you act and sound professional as well. If you speak and use terminology like you would with your friends, this can make some patients uneasy. Always begin an interaction with a patient by speaking to them using language and wording appropriate to the profession. Now, as the examination moves along, you may sense that you can open up a bit with your patient to build a stronger repore. This is perfectly acceptable, but be wary when first starting out as a medical professional. This could make an otherwise normal interaction become uncomfortable quickly.
Proper Medical Terminology
Rationale: When talking to a patient about their care, it is important not to immediately dumb down the information you give them. Patients generally want to know exactly what is going on with them. So, make sure that you are giving them the actual medical terminology and explanations to start out with. This may be information that they wish to reference later. If this is unsuccessful, then you may change the wording of your explanation so that it is easier for them to understand. This may take a few attempts, but it will be worth it if it leaves your patient feeling more at ease.
Rationale: Patients come to medical facilities for a lot of different reasons. Some patients handle the stress of healthcare facilities better than others. In an attempt to keep patients as calm as possible, keep an open line of communication during their entire stay. Keep a running dialogue with the patient about the vital signs, the labs they may receive, the results once the physician has reviewed them, and the aftercare instructions. The more attentive you are to the patient, the more trust they will feel for you. The extra communication goes a long way towards building a strong relationship with the patient.
Rationale: Some medical facilities are far smaller than others. In the case of primary care physician offices or certain urgent cares, it may be as small as a medical assistant and the physician on a single shift. If that is the case, the medical assistant will have to be responsible for the administrative duties as well as the clinical. Being in the front office requires that you answer the phone calls. The phone call is sometimes the first experience a patient will have with your facility. It is always important to answer the telephone professionally, with the same routine. Announce the facility name, your name, and how may I help you. This alerts the caller who you are, and that you will be the one helping them.
Rationale: Patients will understandably become curious about the outcome of lab procedures that have been performed on them during the examinations. Even though the medical assistant generally performs all of the lab tests, it is improper to give the results of those tests to the patient without approval from the physician. The physician should always review the test results, because they understand how those results apply to the working diagnosis. To prematurely give results to the patient could undermine what the physician is trying to accomplish. Also, if you reveal a lab result that is invalid because it was procured from a damaged lab test, you could be opening up the facility to a liability.
Wash your hands so the patient can see you
Rationale: When entering a patient’s room, it is always a good practice to perform good hand hygiene. This lets the patient know that you take their health seriously in the time you spend with them, and that you are actively protecting them before you even begin the patient assessment. If you don’t take the time to wash your hands, you could be sending a negative message to certain patients. If you begin a relationship with a patient by giving them a reason to mistrust you, this could seriously hamper the entire treatment process.