Medical Assistant Externship Experience: The Glue of the Field

When someone talks about the professions in the medical field, all the glory always goes to the doctor, or the registered nurse. People tend to forget about the others who work with them, helping to maintain a smooth operation in the office. A certified medical assistant works in both the front and back of the office. Does having a passion to work with people play a major role? What skills and qualifications is a person required to have to be a certified medical assistant? Finally, how does one overcome the many challenges they face on a day to day basis while still having the passion for the job? In this research essay these questions will be answered by analyzing the medical assistant externship experience, education requirements and the needed training, challenges and rewards that comes with this line of work in the medical field, and the responsibilities of a certified medical assistant, giving a better understanding how a certified medical assistant is the glue between the doctor and their many patients.

Medical Assistant Career Overview

To become a certified medical assistant, there are two career paths you can take.

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The first path one can take would be On-The-Job Training and Education. This pathway is known to be the fastest way to get your foot into the medical field. This route allows you to begin working and earning money while you are learning all the material needed to be successful on the job. However, if you wish to pursue this path it will require a significant amount of persistence, because it can be very challenging to come across a doctor who is willing to hire an untrained applicant.

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If you see that this path fits you, you will need to have a high school diploma or a GED. Next, you will then have to find a doctor who would be willing to provide the training in their office. Once you find a doctor willing to train, you will then begin to receive hands on training under the direction of the doctors, nurses, and other professionals.

The other option would be to go through formal training Accredited programs. There are a variety of colleges, universities, and technical schools that offer certified medical assistant training programs. You can either get a certificate/diploma in 9-12 months, or an associate degree in 18-24 months. This type of program usually includes classroom and laboratory training, along with an externship assignment. When you attend on campus medical training programs, you must be dedicated because your attendance of all classes and laboratory sessions is mandatory. Online training programs allows you to complete your coursework at home. People typically choose this method if they wish to work full time or take care of their families while getting their education. Next, you must become certified, prepare a resume, and find a job that fits you. An internship is not required but highly recommended for better position offerings.

Like many careers, especially in the medical field, the challenges you face as a certified medical assistant can be breathtaking, due to the many different circumstances you see from patient to patient. For example, more often than one may want to admit there may be a difficult patient who just may be having a bad day. Even though the patient may be being rude and angry, it’s still the certified medical assistant job to ensure they maintain their professionalism and show kindness and patience with each person they have an encounter with. They must master the communication skills needed to build a rapport while maintaining appropriate patient closeness. In a journal writing by Nancy Elder, she mentions this “requires strong relationships between the professionals having main contact with patients and their colleagues” (Elder 155). They must be sure to avoid having their personal and emotional affiliation affect decision making. Dealing with lives everyday you’re bound to deal with the death of a patient. Yes, as people we are emotional beings, but as a professional in the medical field you must keep your composure. During our interview, Mrs. Williams talked about these challenges as well as a personal challenge she has while working at a medical home clinic, Infectious Disease. She stated, “I’m facing challenges every day because it comes with the job, but the biggest challenge for me is the shortage on employees” (1). She goes on to explain the shortage of staff makes the workload difficult sometimes and cause her as well as her colleagues to be forced to focus on the time management with each patient rather than building a rapport with the patient. Because of this it may cause the medical assistant to feel like they are not doing their job to their full ability.

The challenges of this career may make one feel there isn’t enough rewards that overpower the bad and make this a career worth it. The biggest reward you get out of this career is helping others. You get to finish your day knowing you not only help patients, but possibility made a difference in someone’s life with the wonderful service that was provided. Ms. Williams expressed with excitement, “It warms my heart to know I have the ability to make a difference in a patient’s day even if I didn’t have the best day myself” (1). Also, there are many opportunities for growth when working as a certified medical assistant. Working with doctors and nurses you get an inside view to what it’s like to perform their jobs as well. For example, “a physician might teach and subsequently delegate pelvic exams and the collection of Pap smears to a medical assistant” (Morris 13). Learning and observing thing like this could help one make the decision if they would like to further their career in the medical field.

A certified medical assistant has a variety of responsibilities because the responsibilities that they have vary from job to job and place to place. Therefore, it all depends on what and who you are working for. Your medical director will then assign you your duties. A certified medical assistant’s main priority, among many others, is to help and make sure that the doctor’s office runs as smooth and as successfully as possible. Majority of the time they work in both the front and back areas of the doctor’s office. Also, each state has its own set of rules and obligations in regard to what they are and are not allowed to do. Therefore, their tasks and responsibilities vary depending on the state. However, in all states, it is required that a medical assistant must be under the supervision of either a doctor or a licensed nurse such as a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Regarding the responsibilities of a medical assistant; patient assessments and care play a large part in a medical assistant’s job. These assessments include duties such as checking patients’ vital signs, performing physical examinations, and obtaining their patient’s medical history. Vital signs include things like blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and temperature. The physical exams involve measuring height and weight, along with looking for irregularities or deformities on the patient’s body. Medical assistants record any medical conditions, medications, and allergies of the patient, then alerts the doctor of the results.

On the patient care side of this important responsibility, it consists of helping patients with mobility, removing clothes, covering afflicted parts, and activities of daily living such as keeping up with hygiene and helping with bathroom assistance. Medical assistants also have testing duties. In these testing duties, the medical assistant is responsible for collecting samples for the lab testing. They also draw blood when the doctor orders blood work. They process samples, and pack and ship samples to their appropriate destination. Along with these duties, there is the responsibility of preparing patients and getting them ready for testing, treatments, and procedures that the doctor may perform. The medical assistant follows their protocol always and these protocols will explain in detail how and when to prepare these patients. Lastly, medical assistants have the responsibility of answering the phones, filling, and scheduling appointments. While doing this, they greet patients, and obtain person information, along with insurance information. Medical assistants keep the office organized, allowing it to run more efficiently.


After taking a closer look into the career of a certified medical assistant, and personally speaking with someone with twenty years of medical assistant externship experience , I’ve concluded that they are the glue that holds the doctor’s office together. For instance, with a doctor a patient must put their trust into this person to care for them. Going through the steps to get certified isn’t all it takes to be a successful certified medical assistant, you must be willing to care for all. I tip my hat to those who have the genuine passion to help people every day because sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to do.

Works Cited

  1. Elder, Nancy C., et al. “Patterns of Relating between Physicians and Medical Assistants in Small Family Medicine Offices.” Annals Of Family Medicine, vol. 12, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 155. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1370/afm.1581.
  2. Morris, Kathleen. “Role of the Medical Assistant.” Ohio Nurses Review, vol. 84, no. 3, May 2009, pp. 13. EBSCOhost,
  3. Williams, Chenita. “Stacey: Certified Medical Assistant.” 2019. JPEG file.
  4. Williams, Stacey. Personal Interview. 27 Jan. 2019.

Works cited

  1. Elder, Nancy C., et al. “Patterns of Relating between Physicians and Medical Assistants in Small Family Medicine Offices.” Annals Of Family Medicine, vol. 12, no. 2, Mar. 2014, pp. 155. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1370/afm.1581.
  2. Morris, Kathleen. “Role of the Medical Assistant.” Ohio Nurses Review, vol. 84, no. 3, May 2009, pp. 13. EBSCOhost,
  3. Williams, Chenita. “Stacey: Certified Medical Assistant.” 2019. JPEG file.
  4. Williams, Stacey. Personal Interview. 27 Jan. 2019.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Medical Assistant Externship Experience: The Glue of the Field. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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