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    Medical Receptionists Get Respect!

    [caption id="attachment_11459" align="alignleft" width="160" caption="Part of the Team"][/caption]

    If you are studying in a Medical Assistant or Medical Office Administration program, you are learning some of the skills used by medical receptionists.

    You know who they are—the people who greet you when you enter a medical office, ask you to sign in, and give you some forms to fill out. It isn’t an easy job. Most people aren’t in their comfort zones when they have a medical appointment and may seem nervous or even angry. The best receptionists can project a feeling of calm and welcome when a patient walks through the door.

    You will learn about this in your program and hopefully see it in action during your externship.

    Medical receptionists are finally getting some recognition from people who study the healthcare field. Dr. Jenna Ward, a researcher in England, spent three years watching and working with more than 30 medical receptionists. Ward, who teaches at the University of York in England, says that receptionists play a very important role in the doctor-patient relationship.

    “We should be thinking of the relationship as a three-way one among [doctor], patient and receptionist,” Ward writes in an article published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

    Ward says receptionists grow with the job and over time, can handle difficult, emotional situations while representing the medical practice in a professional way. They best ones adjust their emotions to match a patient’s mood or needs. Here are a couple of interesting examples:

    • After telling a co-worker the sad news of a young patient’s death, a medical receptionist was able to quickly pull herself together and answer the phone in her usual cheerful way.
    • Another receptionist calmly handled an elderly patient who was shouting racial insults at her over an appointment mix-up.

    But many patients think medical receptionists block their access to the doctor. In fact, they are protecting the medical practice and doctor(s) as well as the other patients by keeping to a schedule that respects their time.

    Dr. Ward says that medical offices can support medical receptionists by making it clear to patients that the medical receptionist is part of the healthcare team. The whole team—not just physicians and clinical staff—are part of the patient experience.

     

    Source:

    Pauline Chen, M.D. "Giving Medical Receptionists Their Due." The New York Times, 30 June 2011. Web, 25 July 2011.

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