In today’s employment climate, a medical assistant internship is often considered to be the major career entry point for new graduates. Medical assistants who serve as interns can gain invaluable experience in the administrative, clinical, and general work responsibilities in cooperation with established professionals. If you are considering completing an internship, but are unsure what duties you will be expected to perform, here are some general informational guidelines:
During the internship, you will be expected to perform certain administrative duties under the direction and guidance of a healthcare supervisor. While the specific duties may vary from one internship opportunity to the next, you can expect to do any or all of the following:
- Manage communications. You will likely be required to convey a large variety of information to patients, supervisors, coworkers, and others through postal mail, e-mail, telephone communication, video conferencing, and personal communication.
- Maintaining health records. As an intern, you will help in the completion and updating of patient charts and other records while meeting HIPAA regulations.
- Relaying messages. As part of your duties, you may be expected to answer phone calls, take messages, and relay messages to doctors, nurses, and other staff members accurately.
- Scheduling appointments. Many interns spend some time learning to effectively schedule patient appointments according to the guidelines and practices of the office.
- Handle insurance, billing, and finances. This may include coordinating benefits, verifying patient insurance coverage, calculating patient financial responsibility, filing insurance claims, processing billing statements, making collections calls, and more.
- Order supplies. Some internships may require you to order and purchase clinical and office supplies from a variety of vendors.
- Documenting information. Medical assistant interns are often responsible for documenting a variety of information in both written and electronic formats. This involves the ability to use computers and software programs.
In addition to the administrative tasks involved in an internship, you will also be expected to perform a variety of clinical duties. These duties will be completed under the supervision of a physician, nurse, or established medical assistant (depending upon the task), and will be performed to very specific standards. Clinical duties of a medical assistant intern may include:
- Preparing patients for examinations. This may include leading patients to examination rooms, taking and logging patient vital signs and medical histories, explaining procedures, and setting up equipment for the doctor’s arrival. Interns are also often responsible for cleaning and preparing examination rooms after a patient’s departure.
- Laboratory tasks. In many cases, interns are required to collect and handle samples for pathological testing as well as assisting with injectable medications or patients.
- Managing supplies. Interns are often trained and responsible for sorting and organizing laboratory materials, keeping examination rooms stocked, and inspecting the structure and integrity of medical implements.
As a medical assistant intern, you will be responsible for a wide variety of clinical and administrative tasks under the direction and guidance of experienced professionals. This allows you to hone your skills under ‘safety net’ conditions so you will be fully prepared to enter the workforce as a competent, skilled professional.