Succeeding In An Externship

Some people aren’t familiar with the term externship. Your externship is the final step of your medical assisting training. An externship has to with YOU! It means you finally get a chance to put everything learned in a classroom to use, dealing with actual patients and medical professionals in an actual medical office environment. Although many students have some apprehension about beginning the externship, once there they find it to be a very rewarding experience

Shortly before it is time to begin the externship, you may be asked to interview with the physician or office manager at facility. Treat this interview exactly if it were an actual job interview. Dress appropriately and professionally, and always take a resume, even if the school has forwarded one to the clinic. Compile a list of all the addresses, telephone numbers, and names of supervisors and businesses you have previously worked for. Do not appear unprepared by having to ask for a phone book to look up information if asked to complete an application for employment. Once a good match is determined, a date will be set for the externship to begin.

The externship was designed for several purposes. You are expected to perform duties that were learned in a school, as well as to learn and refine new skills that are taught by the medical office staff. The ability to perform is important, but equally of value is your ability to be a good team member. You must use appropriate interpersonal skills, have a professional appearance, and display a good attitude. The externship gives you the opportunity to prove your dependability. You must be willing to help with smaller duties, like pulling and filing charts, and sometimes answer phones, as well as the more critical ones, like assisting with patient intake and doing basic clinical procedures.

By following professional guidelines and being willing to learn, you will find the externship to be a positive learning experience. Remember, the externship will in most cases be the first job reference in the medical field so do a good job! Be sure to leave a few copies of your resume with the externship office so that if job opportunities arise later, or if the staff is aware of a position in another facility they will be able to pass your resume along and assist you in the job search process. It is acceptable to ask for a letter of reference from the externship site supervisor or physician. Be sure to send the externship office a “Thank You” note for allowing the externship in their facility. This makes a good impression and will express your appreciation for the opportunity to learn in the facility. By adhering to these suggestions, you will find the externship experience to be one of great value.

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