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Medical Office Communication: How to Talk to Patients

Medical assistants (MAs) work with a wide range of patients on a daily basis. Communicating with a patient is one of the most crucial parts of the job and is important to a patient’s overall care and well-being.

By understanding how to communicate with a patient and what needs they have, a medical assistant will provide patients with the care they both need and deserve.

For a medical assistant, improving communication skills and learning how to talk with patients in a medical office involves both verbal and nonverbal communication. A medical assistant’s goal is to use communication that creates a comfortable atmosphere for patients. Even bad news should be communicated in a positive way.

The medical assistant should look patients in the eyes when talking with them and listen carefully. The medical assistant should also be aware of nonverbal communication, giving a positive and open signal to patients.

Communication Skills Are Important

For medical assistants to communicate, they must be active listeners, have the ability to observe body language, and talk clearly and concisely. Active listening involves the medical assistant’s paying close attention to what is talked about, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the patient says to ensure the MA understands the situation. In order to give and receive accurate information, good communication skills are important when talking with patients in a medical office.

How to Communicate with Patients in a Medical Office

Medical assistants oversee different aspects of patients’ care while they are in the doctor’s office, so it is important to learn how to communicate with patients. The most common tasks a medical assistant performs include taking vitals and a patient’s medical history. These two duties are crucial to understanding any problems or issues before the patient is seen by a doctor.

The medical assistant may also be involved in scheduling medical office appointments. Also, because the medical assistant is the first medical professional the patient is going to see, he or she needs to greet patients properly.

For all of these reasons, communication is the most important skill a medical assistant needs to interact with patients and learning to talk to patients is of vital importance.

How to Talk to Patients of All Ages and Needs

Patients need an empathetic, caring, and understanding professional to provide them with the care and knowledge they need. Medical assistants talk with patients of all ages, types, genders, and needs. They may work with a baby during one visit or communicate with a non-English talking geriatric patient during the next office appointment.

With all patients, it is important for the medical assistant to talk with them on their level. A medical assistant wouldn’t communicate with an elderly patient the same way they would an infant or toddler.

It is also important to take a personable approach with patients, since the medical assistant genuinely cares about the patient’s health. It’s never a bad idea to make small talk when interacting with a patient.

While medical assistants should never pry into a patient’s personal life, they talk about their job, lifestyle, and hobbies. This lets the medical assistant connect with the patient and puts the patient at ease.

Why Caring Is Crucial When Talking with Patients

Patients may be nervous and frightened or agitated because they don’t like going to the doctor’s office. Children might come in sobbing or throwing tantrums.

It is important to prepare for any and all types of interactions, to show compassion, and to truly care about the patient. For example, a child or toddler who is crying and scared will do well with a soft voice and being told there are stickers available for them to enjoy.

Talking with Pediatric Patients

A medical assistant may care for children, babies, and toddlers. Kids can be difficult to handle even if the medical assistant works with them regularly in a medical office.

While many children are surprisingly easy to work with, some come into the office screaming. With children, the medical assistant should talk with them in a way that they understand. The medical assistant should avoid any medical terminology that might frighten or shock them.

For example, instead of saying the word “needle,” the medical assistant might say “poke.” Instead of “medicine,” the medical assistant might say “syrup.” These are words that a medical assistant wouldn’t use with an older patient because it could come across as condescending.

The key is to make kids comfortable and confident. It is also important for them to feel safe while they’re at the doctor’s office.

Talking with Other Medical Professionals

A medical assistant needs good communication skills to work with colleagues, physicians, and other medical professionals. The medical assistant should be a good listener and pick up on any non-verbal body language to better understand the situation.

Body language often tells a different story than the actual words a medical professional may say. Medical assistants will want to be clear, concise, respectful, and friendly with patients and colleagues. They should show confidence to make people comfortable with a situation. Good communication is an essential skill for a successful medical assistant.

Do you know how to talk to patients? Do you have what it takes to become a medical assistant? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field?

The Medical Assistant program at Hunter Business School prepares competent, entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains required for professional practice.

The Medical Assistant program provides hands-on experience in a real medical setting where you can foster professional relationships with actual patients. Medical Assistant students spend 160 hours in an externship in a genuine medical work environment where they are supervised and taught in order to gain valuable on-the-job training.

Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.