Internships and Practicums

An internship serves as a work experience opportunity performed within a supervised environment. Supervisors and the environment provide interns with practical, hands-on experience and training that prepares them for professional life. Taking an internship, especially a paid internship, also increases one’s career success, which explains why a variety of academic programs require students to complete them. The organization hosting an intern may even choose to hire them. According to a 2014 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 65% of college students from 2014 who completed a paid internship at a for-profit organization received job offers before graduating. By comparison, only 39% of 2014 college graduates with no internship experience received job offers. The chance to hire someone already trained to work with them often appeals to the hosting organization.

Many medical assistant programs conclude with a required internship. Occasionally, schools refer to this period of supervised experience as a practicum. Students need to observe professionals in their field and accumulate experience. The student’s abstract knowledge gets put to the test and transferred to the workplace. A medical assistant internship also gives students the chance to decide whether or not this field suits their career interests.

What to Expect From Your Medical Assistant Internship

What Will I Do for My Medical Assistant Internship?

A medical assistant intern can expect to work on their own and under the supervision of health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and medical assistants. During this time, interns will shoulder the full responsibility of the position, managing, recording, and processing the information fed into the healthcare system. Clerical tasks might include updating patient charts, scheduling appointments, and verifying patient coverage. However, interns may also fulfill medically-related requirements, such as gathering information from patients, projecting a positive and caring image for the organization, and collecting and handling samples from patients.

In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?

Medical assistant internships take place in healthcare facilities like hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. Sometimes the student must take responsibility for finding an internship, but oftentimes the program assists the student in connecting with an organization. In the latter case, the student’s instructor may tailor the internship to the student’s needs as a learner, drawing upon relationships established with regional healthcare providers. Online medical assistant programs often require students to complete an internship at a regionally approved location. In the case of an online medical assistant program, the student might need to find the internship on their own.

How Long Will My Internship Last?

Internships vary in length and requirements. A typical medical assistant internship lasts no more than two months, totalling somewhere around 200 hours in a schedule resembling a part-time job. Rasmussen University and Fisher College require 240 hours, while Central Lakes College requires 225 hours for their clinical medical assistant internship.

Will I Get Paid for My Medical Assistant Internship?

An intern does not always receive financial compensation for their services. Taking an unpaid internship offers comparable career and experience benefits to a paid one, but the potential for employer abuse should not go unnoted. Interns should accept no pay and on the condition that they receive at least some form of educational credit for their time.

Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship?

Oftentimes, a medical assistant internship counts for academic credit. Some employers may pay the intern for their experience knowing this, while others may choose not to. The likelihood that the employer may not pay the student increases if the internship counts for academic credit, and the employer may justify this by citing the educational nature of the experience. Different academic programs might incorporate different short and long term assignments and projects within the internship. Typically, an internship counts for around 1-6 credit hours; Central Lakes‘ medical assistant internship gives students five credit hours.

How Will My Medical Assistant Internship Help Me?

A medical assistant internship bolsters everything you learned in the classroom with practical experience. Interns learn about an organization’s workflow, the work environment, and how to incorporate skills into the profession. Interns also learn how to project a caring and attentive attitude, gather information from patients, and interact with healthcare professionals. They leave the internship better equipped to juggle multiple tasks at once, including interacting with patients in a caring and responsive manner and communicating effectively with other healthcare professionals.

The supervision of a healthcare professional keeps interns on track. Completing an internship enhances interns resumes in a comparable way to a certificate or degree-granting program. It shows employers your level of commitment and your ability to contribute to an organization.

Where to Find Medical Assistant Internships

Should interns need to find an internship, many regional resources offer students help. The list below includes a few options for finding a medical assistant internship.

  • Your School’s Career Center: The counselors at a school’s career center often connect interns to relevant employers. For those unsure of where to start, counselors serve as a good first option.
  • Job Fairs: Interns may take advantage of networking opportunities and get in contact with employers at job fairs. Employers at job fairs take special note of potential employees stopping by their particular booths.
  • Recruiting Events: A recruiting event, which could take the form of an open interview, could lead to an internship offer on the spot. This face-to-face opportunity provides both employers and students with a chance to determine whether or not the two parties fit.
  • Alumni Network: The experience and relationships of a school’s alumni network often give inters an opportunity to connect with prospective employers. The individuals in these networks can also give interns useful tips on how to get started.
  • Job Boards and Internship Databases: Job boards and databases provide another great brainstorming source, as many employers use these resources to advertise open positions. You can cover several options by looking through openings advertised in your area.

Medical Assistant Internship Opportunities

  • Indeed: Indeed serves as one of the most popular job and internship listing sites on the internet by providing one of the most exhaustive and up-to-date databases of open positions.
  • Internships.com: Internships.com offers a database of internship opportunities; it also offers guides to help with cover letters, interviewing, and other basic prerequisites for securing an internship.
  • SimplyHired.com: Many employers use SimplyHired to advertise open positions for jobs and internships. The SimplyHired blog for job seekers offers helpful tips for internship and job seekers.
  • ZipRecruiter: ZipRecruiter remains one of the most comprehensive and widely used databases among job and internship advertisers. The live chat feature on the website can also help answer questions expediently.
  • WayUp: WayUp offers a widely used internship and job database, several career guides, and help with interviewing and writing cover letters.
  • YouTern: YouTern connects internship seekers with opportunities that correlate with a personal profile. The site’s offshoot blog, The Savvy Intern, also provides useful tips.

Resources

  • American Association of Medical Assistants: This organization’s website features a page with free guides on taking the certified medical assistant exam.
  • Medical Assistant Guide: This site offers tips on how to turn an internship into a job offer. Its FAQ page also addresses the concerns of students and young professionals.
  • Rasmussen College: Rasmussen College teaches students what to expect from a medical assistant internship by giving them an overview of the position. The college also offers a medical assistant associate program.