Working Well With a Medical Office Staff

February 1, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

If you are eager to work in a medical office setting, you’ll need to know how to be successful with all levels of the staff and with your patients.  Here are some tips to consider as you seek employment in a medical office:

Who are your co-workers?  In a medical office, you will find a substantial number of staff whose primary goals are patient care and customer service.  Your co-workers will include medical receptionists, medical records clerks, certified medical assistants, medical interpreters, nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and the doctors themselves.  It is important to understand the hierarchy within the office, who reports to whom, and how individual roles fit together and interact with one another.  Getting to know your co-workers and their duties within the office will allow you to see the bigger picture of your office’s functionality and how your role is crucial to its smooth operation.


Gap Medics mentor teaching new skills to the students on the wardCan you handle the stress?  Maintaining a calm and composed demeanor will help the patients and families that you see within the office.  If you possess a high anxiety personality, your nervous energy will be palpable to the patients in the waiting and exam rooms.  Often, a medical office is busy, buzzing with people worried about their illnesses, symptoms, and medical conditions.  You cannot be overwhelmed by the nerves of the patients in the waiting room.  In addition, if long waits are common in your office, you’ll be dealing with agitated patients.  You’ve got to have thick skin to handle any criticisms that they may lob your way. 


Do you like gossip?  You may not admit to it at first, but there are many people whose lives are mired in drama, gossip, theatrics, and other bad behavior.  If this is you, there are other careers where these aspects can work to your advantage, but working in a medical office is not one of those environments.  You’ll need to be task-oriented and people-oriented; the high volume of patients seen in the typical medical office allows little time for extensive socializing and gossiping conversation.  You’ll need to be proactive, forward-thinking, and independent.  You’ll have plenty to talk about during your work day, but these discussions will revolve around patient care, treatments, and follow-ups.  Once the work day is over, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and unwind with your friends, family, and even your co-workers.


Are you worried about burnout?  This is a real concern and one that is a common occurrence in fields where frequent interaction with others is a daily requirement. In a medical office, you’ll work with a high needs population, and you’ll need to give your all to their care.  Bad days happen, but you’ll need to remember that your bad day at work in a medical office can truly impact those in your care.  In addition, your co-workers will need to compensate for any errors or failings that may happen if you begin to suffer from burnout.  To be successful in your work at a medical office, you will want to be mindful of the signs of burnout and be prepared to step away for the good of your patients and your medical office teammates.


These simple questions begin to touch the surface of what it takes to succeed in as a medical professional working in a medical office setting.  Seek out volunteer or intern opportunities to see if the medical office setting is ideal for you. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.