One of the responsibilities of a medical assistant is gathering and recording a patient’s medical history. In fact, patient communication is one of the most crucial parts of their job. While it sounds straightforward, not every patient may be willing to share information or even know how to communicate it properly. As a result, knowing how to talk to different types of patients is an important skill for a medical assistant.
In order to get the information needed to facilitate an accurate and complete diagnosis, medical assistants need to follow a few guidelines to gain a patient’s trust:
Watch your body language
As a medical assistant, your goal is to create a comfortable atmosphere for patients to help them open up and share important information. The first step is to convey respect and caring through your body language. Look patients in the eye and be sure to smile. Always face the patient when speaking to them, and make sure your arms aren’t crossed. These small details can convey positive signals to patients and let them know that you are friendly and interested in what they have to say.
Break the ice
Small talk can help break the ice when talking to patients. You might ask about the weather or their weekend plans. Connecting with the patient about a non-medical topic can help put them at ease. While it’s okay to share something about yourself, such as an upcoming trip you’re taking, don’t pry into a patient’s personal life. Also, avoid controversial topics that could cause stress.
Active listening requires paying attention to what a patient says and then clarifying the information by repeating it back or asking follow-up questions. To ensure the patient understands what you’re trying to learn, be prepared to rephrase the question. Finally, repeat what you’ve heard to get confirmation that what they are saying and what you are hearing are in agreement.
Connect with the patient
As a medical assistant, you will likely encounter many different types of people during the day. These patients may feel vulnerable particularly when they are at a doctor’s office or clinic, and it’s important to talk to them in a way that makes them comfortable. For example, it can help to talk more slowly to an elderly patient who is hard of hearing. With kids, use age-appropriate words. Always match your message and your language to the patient.
If you love helping others and are considering a career in medical assisting, a Fortis education can help you get started on that path. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors.