Phobias & Anxiety A Medical Assistant Encounters

The medical assistant professional must be aware of the phobias that their patients may have and know how to react should a fearful episode occur on the job. Below are some of the top phobias you may encounter.

Patient anxiety. There are books devoted to it. Web sites. There’s even “White Coat Syndrome,” which causes a patient to have high blood pressure and other symptoms only in the doctor’s office. The fact is when it comes to visiting the doctor, anxiety-induced symptoms can range from mild fear to a full-blown clinical phobia.

Humor is an important tool medical assistants use to help anxious patients. A patient with breast cancer, for instance, felt that her interactions and running jokes with the doctor’s office staff made her experience much more pleasant, according to Donna Patterson, former certified medical assistant. Patterson, now the curriculum manager for the medical assisting program at Corinthian Colleges, which owns and operates Bryman Colleges, Georgia Medical Institute and Florida Metropolitan University, added, “We never treated people like sick patients, but rather like human beings. That’s what kept people going.

Hemophobia:Fear of Blood

The sight of bright red blood causes panic and a feeling of danger or disgust in some people. Sufferers may feel nauseous and light-headed. In some cases, they even faint. Some say the fear of blood is caused by childhood trauma.

Agliophobia:Fear of Pain

Patients with agliophobia exhibit rapid breathing, sweating, irregular heart palpitations and nausea. Likely there was some event that made the person link emotions and pain in a neagative way. Trypanophobia:Fear of Needles

A medical assistant will routinely encounter patients who say they do not like needles. In severe cases, they may have very low blood pressure and heart rate. It’s believed that this phobia is probably passed down through familial lines.

Latrophobia:Fear of Doctors

These patients would rather not know if they are harboring some type of disease or ailment. They may also be afraid of pain or needles. They may subconsciously recall seeing a loved one recieve bad news from a doctor . Physical symptoms may include nausea, quick and shallow breathing, panic, trembling, loss of control, vomiting or the urge to flee.

A good medical assistant will speak calmly, asking the patient about a topic of interest- perhaps a favorite vacation or pet to keep the patient’s mind off things. The medical assistant should ask the patient to avert his or her eyes and reassuringly say “This will only take a moment”.

Medical assistants should be empathetic and avoid dismissing the fear or saying that the phobia is silly or stupid. The drawing of blood needs to be quick and extremely accurate in this case. Helping someone relax in the midst of a crippling phobia is just all part of medical assistants’ career.

Medical assistants also help minimize frustration and anxiety. From a little nervousness to increased blood pressure, nearly everyone visiting the doctor experiences some anxiety. A medical assistant can help to allay that anxiety through calming words and actions and patients should seek out these individuals on every trip to the doctor’s office.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and