Medical assistants need several traits if they want to be successful in the profession. These traits are critical to being able to meet the expectations and needs of both patients and medical employers. Here are four traits of a good medical assistant. We’ll also address why these traits are essential to working as a medical assistant and being good at the job.


Medical assistants have to be able to explain what they are doing to patients to get most of them to cooperate. You must clearly communicate instructions to patients and answer their questions so that they comply with medical orders. The fact that you know what you mean is irrelevant if your patients don’t. You’ll also be expected to translate what the doctor said to patients and explain the details of how the diagnosis and treatment impact their daily lives.


I’m not going to say that empathy is one of the best traits of a medical assistant because too much empathy leaves you trapped in the same difficult emotional state as your patients, unable to fully assist them. It has also been found to actually hurt patient care since the most empathetic medical staff take time away from patient care to seek emotional support for themselves after dealing with patients, instead of devoting all their time to taking care of patients. For this reason, the ability to have compassion for your patients so that they see that you care is essential. But too much empathy is dangerous because you and they cannot afford to have you sucked into their emotional situation to the point it hurts your ability to actually help them.


It shouldn’t have to be said, but medical assistants must be ethical. If you’re found in breach of ethical guidelines, regardless of your reasons, you could lose your license or even go to jail. This is where giving in to a patient asking for a worse diagnosis, so they can get pain pills for an addiction, or giving in to a gossip eager for information by talking about someone’s confidential medical situation can ruin your life. Then there are the ethical rules you must abide by even when patients want you to ignore them, such as telling parents about a child’s mental health problems or informing a partner about the other’s sexually transmitted disease.


And last, but not least, medical assistants must go through the right education. They start the process by finding a program on sites like Then they continue to learn. Continuing education is a requirement of licensing in many states and you’ll learn about electronic healthcare records systems, changes to the law, and medical industry practices as part of your job.


If you are or were thinking of becoming, a medical assistant, then know that these traits are essential to have a fruitful career in the field. The good news is that these traits can also be learned and are not necessarily innate, so if you feel there is a trait or two you have to work on, don’t let it stop you from considering a career in the field.