Skills and Qualities of a Good Medical Assistant

Written ByShannon Lee

Medical assistants perform many important tasks in the course of their day-to-day work, including recording medical histories, measuring vital signs, giving injections, preparing blood for laboratory study, helping physicians with physical examinations and scheduling patient appointments. Depending upon the specialty, they might have other responsibilities as well. In this article, we are going to explore the skills and qualities every medical assistant should have.

Characteristics of a Good Medical Assistant

In order to do well in this fast-paced position, applicants must have certain important characteristics that ensure they can keep up with the steady workload, respect the privacy concerns of patients and display a firm grasp of the many responsibilities the job entails. If you have the following qualities of a good medical assistant, you might find that this job is a perfect fit for you.

Let's explore each skill one-by-one:

Grace under pressure:

Work in a physician's office can be fast-paced, with numerous patients waiting to be seen, many calls to make, lab results to check, and other responsibilities that keep you running. This job requires the kind of person who is cool under stress, who can handle a serious workload, and can change quickly as the situation dictates.

Attention to detail:

In any medical profession, serious attention to detail is very important -- in fact, it could mean the difference between a healthy patient and a bad outcome. Every little detail matters; this fact cannot be stressed enough. If you are the type who makes sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed, being a medical assistant could be the right fit.

Excellent problem solving skills:

Critical thinking is absolutely necessary when dealing with patients, physicians, other office staff, and the day-to-day work that requires you to figure things out quickly. It might be as simple as ordering the proper amount of supplies, or it might be as complex as figuring out what is wrong with a patient -- why are their vital signs off the chart? The more analytical you are, the better you might do in this position.


Physicians are busy. They don't have time to hold your hand. That means that you must be able to see what needs to be done and do it, without having to wait for permission or instruction. Independence in this role means that you are ready to step up and do your job without asking a lot of questions, and you can take charge in a situation where a leader is needed.

Good communication:

Since you will be in regular contact with patients and a variety of health care professionals, being able to get your point across clearly and quickly makes a big difference in how smoothly things go for everyone. Excellent communication skills are an absolute must when you work in a job that requires you to be in contact with a wide variety of individuals with very different needs.

Thinking on your feet:

Things move fast in the medical world, and sometimes you must be ready to make changes at a moment's notice. This is especially true when you are dealing with patients who might be very sick. Thinking clearly and being able to make changes in mid-stride means that you can handle the challenges of those who are very ill.

Top-notch writing skills:

Medical records must be clear and concise, and they must include all pertinent information from each patient encounter. To ensure these records are suitable, your writing skills must be as perfect as they can be. Smooth written communication is also necessary when relating information to other health care providers or patients who need instruction.

Social savvy:

As a medical assistant, you are part of a team that works with patients -- and with each other. Just as with any other job, sometimes personalities rub the wrong way and people just don't get along. It is very important to recognize social issues in the office setting, adjust as best you can, and head off problems before they become bigger.


Medical assistants are constantly working with patients and their medical histories, and sometimes those histories can contain sensitive information. It is vitally important to be honest and trustworthy in every aspect of your job, but especially when handling privacy concerns. Be an upstanding person of impeccable integrity, and others will notice and respect that.

Compassion and empathy:

As a medical assistant, you might work with patients who are going through a very difficult time. Sometimes, you might be right there with them when the doctor delivers bad news. At that life-changing moment, simply listening to them, holding their hand, and keeping your own emotions appropriate for the situation becomes the most important part of your job. In order to work as a medical assistant, you absolutely must have compassion and empathy for what someone else is going through.

This are some important characteristics of a good medical assistant. Working as a medical assistant can be a very fulfilling job, and it might also open doors to other exciting opportunities in the health care field. Do you have the necessary medical assistant characteristics to do a great turn in this job?

Related Article: How To Become a Medical Assistant