Succeeding In An Externship
Succeeding In An Externship
Some people aren't familiar with the term externship. Your
externship is the final step of your medical assisting training.
An externship has to do with YOU! It means you finally get a
chance to put everything learned in the classroom to use,
dealing with actual patients and medical professionals in an
actual medical office environment. Although many students have
some apprehension about beginning the externship, once there
they find it to be a very rewarding experience.
Usually the teaching staff where you receive your medical
assisting training makes all necessary arrangements to set you
up with a suitable externship site. Usually, a medical assisting
education program must provide its students with an externship
experience of at least 160 hours. The school has an already
established contact list of possible externship sites. Sometimes
you get to submit your "dream, or wish list" where you can name
a couple offices or specialties that you would really love to
do. At my school, for example, to be sent to attend to patient's
needs at the local medical center's day stay program, or
dialysis was highly desired. The externship is an important part
of the transition from student to qualified medical assistant.
Shortly before it is time to begin the externship, you may be
asked to interview with the physician or office manager at the
facility. Treat this interview exactly as if it were an actual
job interview. Dress appropriately and professionally, and
always take a resume, even if the school has forwarded one to
the clinic. Compile a list of all the addresses, telephone
numbers, and names of the supervisors and businesses you have
previously worked for. Do not appear unprepared by having to ask
for a phone book to look up information if asked to complete an
application for employment. Once a good match is determined, a
date will be set for the externship to begin.
The externship is designed for several purposes. You expected to
perform duties that were learned in school, as well as to learn
and refine new skills that are taught by the medical office
staff. The ability to perform is important, but equally of value
is your ability to be a good team member. You must use
appropriate interpersonal skills, have a professional
appearance, and display a good attitude. The externship gives
you the opportunity to prove your dependability. Attendance and
punctuality are indicators of reliability and dependability. You
must be willing to help with the smaller duties, like pulling
and filing patient's charts, and sometimes answer the phones, as
well as the more critical ones, like assisting with patient
intake and doing basic clinical procedures.
Remember, while performing the externship, you are a guest at
the facility, and will be expected to follow the same office
policies that the employees do. It is recommended that you read
the office policy handbook during the first few days and note
any memos on the bulletin boards. Also, make sure you know how
to locate emergency equipment, emergency exits, fire
extinguishers, and emergency telephone numbers.
As with any new employee, you may be given the simpler duties on
the first few days of the externship so that an evaluation can
be made as to whether you can follow simple directions and work
efficiently. However, the duties and responsibilities should
increase in importance as the externship progresses. If not, you
should speak with the externship supervisor to determine if
there is a reason why more responsibility is not being offered.
It is important that you be able to accept constructive
criticism and change any habits that might be unacceptable on
the externship site. Once people in charge of you are confident
of your abilities to perform certain tasks, they will let you do
them without asking, so, make it your goal to observe, learn all
you can about unfamiliar procedures, and ultimately, perform
certain tasks without being asked!
You must wear appropriate work attire, such as a uniform that
identifies you as a student, or our own scrubs, wearing an
identification badge. Medical assistants are expected to have a
neat, clean, professional appearance. Do not gossip, complain,
interrupt, or insist that the office is performing a skill
differently than you learned in school. You should not have
excessive personal phone calls on the site. If there are
problems on the externship, you should first speak to the site
supervisor, and if no resolution is obtained, the school
supervisor should be involved. You must learn to communicate
with supervisors and not allow problems to go unresolved. You
should not ask or expect the physician to treat you or your
family if an illness should occur during the externship period.
Do not expect or ask the physician to dispense any medications
from the office. Also remember that confidentiality guidelines
apply to the externship student. No information regarding a
patient should be discussed outside the office for any reason.
By following professional guidelines and being willing to learn,
you will find the externship to be a positive learning
experience. Remember, the externship will in most cases be the
first job reference in the medical field, so do a good job! Be
sure to leave a few copies of your resume with the externship
office so that if job opportunities arise later, or if the staff
is aware of a position in another facility, they will be able to
pass your resume along and assist you in the job search process.
It is acceptable to ask for a letter of reference from the
externship site supervisor or physician. Be sure to send the
externship office a "thank you" note for allowing the externship
in their facility. This makes a good impression and will express
your appreciation for the opportunity to learn in the facility.
By adhering to these suggestions, you will find the externship
experience to be one of great value.
Now, the time has come to find a job! Good luck!
Danni R., CMA, CCMA, CMAA Founder/Owner/Web Site Maintenance:
Advanced Medical Assistant of America
http://www.certmedassistant.com Medical Assistant Net