Medical Assistant as a Role Model

Everyone is a role model in some respect. Everyone has some degree of influence on those with whom they come into contact. Some people welcome this responsibility, while others do not. When a person takes on a professional role, especially in a service-oriented profession such as medical assisting, this kind of responsibility takes on special meaning. Patients look to health care providers for help, information, and guidance. Furthermore, they observe and take note of such characteristics as lifestyle, attitude, behaviors, and habits—healthy and unhealthy. They may be inspired by good examples of healthful living and may be negatively influenced by unhealthful ones. With this power of influence in mind, the medical assistant must carefully consider the type of role model she wishes to be.

Qualities of a Good Role Model

Good role models practice what they preach.While no one leads the perfect life, health care professionals are viewed by others as examples of how one ought to live. At the very least, health care workers should avoid flaunting bad habits in front of patients (such as smoking in front of the medical building). Better yet, they should strive to develop the same healthful habits that they encourage in their patients.

Teaching by Example

Patients sometimes learn more from the medical assistant by her actions than from her words. Because she is a role model, the information that she gives patients about lifestyle modification will have a greater impact if the patients see her practicing what she preaches. If she teaches them about weight loss or smoking cessation, yet is significantly overweight herself or smells of tobacco
smoke, her message loses impact. On the other hand, if patients see a medical assistant who practices healthy behaviors, it makes a positive impression. They are then more likely to heed her words of advice. Although this may not seem fair, it is true. So the medical assistant should take every opportunity to lead others by example. Healthy behaviors for the medical assistant that have an impact on patients and patient education include:

• getting regular exercise, such as going to the gym, walking the dog, and riding a bike
• eating a nutritious diet
• finding a balance between work and play
• getting regular health checkups
• maintaining optimal weight
• avoiding tobacco or illicit drug use.