Friday, June 14, 2013

Medical Assistant Interview Assignment

I cannot believe instructors still give this mundane assignment. Although, as a former instructor (and MA student) I do very well understand the idea behind this exercise, it is unrealistic to send students out to find a medical assistant whom they can interview and then, give them a bad grade if they were not able to secure an appointment.

MA Students Being Asked to Interview a Medical Assistant

Countless MA students have approached me over the years, posted to my forums and here on facebook seeking a medical assistant they can interview, however, fact is conducting the interview online or by email defeats the intended purpose. The presumption is, that the MA student goes out and approaches a live person in hopes that it helps them to overcome any shyness and hesitation and teaches them to speak to a complete stranger when they formulate their questions. 

One student posted to our Medical Assistant Message Board:
Project help!
Hello, I am doing a career research project for a class in which I had to pick a career that I am interested in, a tool that is commonly used in that trade and interview someone in that profession on the tool; my tool is the scalpel. So, if someone could answer these questions it would be much appreciated: What is the best brand of scalpels? How could they be improved? How many different blades do you use? How much of a difference is there between a regular scalpel and a laser one?

Another MA student sent out the following S.O.S:
Need to Interview a Medical Assistant - Please help!
Hello! I am looking for a Medical Assistant that I can interview. I am currently enrolled in a Medical Assisting program at my Community College. For an English course I have to write a Memo about the career that I have chosen. One of the requirements is that I interview someone already in the field. We can do this over email, I just really need some help ASAP! Thanks in advance.

The Purpose of the Assignment

Supposedly, the exercise will help to build rapport with someone they don't know who is already working in the field and solidify interpersonal communication skills, while also coming across professionally and with courtesy in a medical environment. Any thing other can be faked and put together by surfing the Web, or looking through textbooks or professional magazines. That is not the purpose of this assignment, which in the end, most medical assistant students wind up doing anyway because they just cannot find a working medical assistant who has the time for an interview, either during or after work.

Why Interviewing a Medical Assistant Is Difficult

Why not just bring a seasoned medical assistant into the classroom for 1 hour instead and then allow everyone to ask a question, or two? In the end, if everyone takes a turn, everyone gets to hear 20-30 good questions and answers and the same exposure to a working medical assistant under less stress. I find it unrealistic to expect a medical assistant student walk into a medical office and beg a medical office manager for an interview with their medical assistant. Everyone's time is limited! Most physicians and medical office managers feel their MAs should be working, and rightfully so, therefore I see this as an assignment that has gone out of style and done nothing but frustrate students, except a few lucky ones who were able to get the live interview, and earn an A.