1. You Will Make Mistakes – Humans are not perfect and therefore we will make mistakes. But it is important to know what to do when you make a mistake. The first step to take is to admit that you did something wrong. This way the issue can be fixed and resolved. Ask your supervisor how you could have avoided the mistake and what steps you could take to make sure it doesn't happen in the future. Showing that you can admit you have done something wrong and are willing to learn how to not make that mistake again will show you care and want to be the best.
2. Work Like You’re Getting Paid – You should treat your externship like it’s a paid job. Meaning you should wear appropriate uniforms and follow the guidelines set by the practice. This may include how much or what type of jewelry you can wear, how you should keep your nails trimmed, how to wear your hair, etc. One of the most important details is DON’T TAKE PERSONAL CALLS or send texts while you’re working. You are there to learn so make sure you are making the most of it.
3. Prepare To Adapt – During your externship you will do things you have learned in the classroom, but it’s important to learn new things at your site. Physicians and/or nurses may have a different way of doing things then what you were taught. Make sure you follow protocols and ask for help if you are unsure of the new methods.
4. Follow Directions – It is a very basic concept, but could mean a great deal for your future career. The first few days of your externship you may be asked to do some very basic tasks like filing, answering phones, filling out charts, etc. This is a way for supervisors to monitor how well you can follow directions and how you handle yourself. If after a week or so you have not been given more responsibility or feel that you’re not learning new skills then speak to your supervisor.
5. Be Ready To Speak Up – Your externship is essentially your first job. You will not only be learning medical assisting skills but you will be learning how to work with physicians, nurses, and administration. You need to be able to speak with supervisors and administration about issues that are bothering you. Whether it’s you feel you are not learning enough or being taught adequately, you need more responsibility, there are problems with staff, or anything else that may come up. If you can not resolve the issue directly you may need to speak with your school about becoming involved.
6. Be Proactive – As you come to the end of your externship schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your experience. Ask questions about what you can improve on and different ways you can further your career. When your externship is complete be sure to leave a few copies of your resume. That way if a position opens up you may be considered for the job. You could also ask for a letter of recommendation for other positions or have administration pass your resume on to someone they know that may be hiring.
7. Say Thank You – Remember to convey your appreciation. Send a thank you note to your supervisor for letting you complete your externship with them. Send thank you notes to those who really helped you master your skills. This will create a great impression and may lead to a job offer or referral.
The important thing to remember is externships are your chance to learn and gain experience. Take control of your own destiny and work hard for what you want. Your hard work won’t go unnoticed and will lead to a very successful career.