When you start working in the healthcare industry, time management may seem like an “easy” task to do. Time management, what is that? Can I crack open nuts with it? Answering a call here and there, filling some forms, handling a few patients every now and then – surely not a big deal!
However, nothing could be further from the truth, no other work environment comes close to the chaos of a busy healthcare facility jam packed with:
- noisy children
- demanding parents
- overprotective grandparents
- frightened patients
- unfriendly patients
- impatient patients (that’s a good one :-))
- frustrated doctors
- miserable co-workers
- and a never-ending list of duties
Managing your time well won’t give you extra hours, but it does allow you to use the time you have more efficiently.
Let alone the fact that, proper time management is beneficial for reducing your stress, which promotes better overall health. Being a good MA is not easy, but if you take the following 10 steps to help guide you along, I am pretty sure your chances of “cracking up” will greatly diminish.
1. Set specific goals
Am I in control of my time or am I at the mercy of external circumstances? Why I never have enough time to do things I supposed to do? If you constantly find yourself asking yourself questions like this then you know you have a problem.
The key to effectiveness is organization, this applies not only to work but also to personal life. While being organized doesn’t guarantee effectiveness, being unorganized almost always guarantees ineffectiveness.
As trite and cliche as it might sound, setting goals daily, weekly, and monthly will help you stay organized and orderly in your work as an MA.
You can plan ahead for those small tasks associated with each target goal. This helps with overall time management, as well as with unforeseen issues that may arise.
Always put these goals in writing and refer to them often. After goal setting, you can create mini action plans in order to address each goal more specifically.
2. Prepare your “to do” list
It is always a good idea to have a daily “to do” list in order to better manage your time.
This list should be arranged according to priority, either based on urgency or importance. Write down your list in the same notepad as your goals so you can stay focused on what needs to be accomplished.
Furthermore, checking off each item on your list as it is completed will give you a sense of fulfillment and motivate you to work hard in order to check off the rest.
Once you get the first few items done, the list will assist you in managing your time wisely throughout the rest of the day. Anything not checked off at the end of the day should go on the top of tomorrow’s to do list.
3. Review your goals and action plan each day
At the start and end of each day, you must review your goals and plan of action.
- Were you able to write down all the smaller tasks necessary in accomplishing your weekly goals?
- Did your first strategy fail?
- If so, you quickly need to come up with Plan B to reach your deadlines. Which unexpected events are hindering you from completing all of your daily tasks?
These are just a few of the concerns you ought to be reviewing in order to try other time management methods in case something is not working well.
4. Cluster your daily activities
Perhaps one of your responsibilities is to check on all patients of the doctor you work for every single day. You should always plan it out so that you do the visits within one period of time.
If you work in a hospital you can also incorporate tasks that may need to be done in that same wing. This way, you can make the most of your time.
Remember that you can only do this if you plan ahead and write down every single thing you need to do.
If not, there’s a good chance you will forget something and then have to waste time going back to that location again to complete a task you should have done earlier. That is not a good way to manage your time.
5. Set deadlines for yourself
Even if your boss has given you a month to work on a particular project, you have to break it down into small, manageable tasks, each with a specific deadline.
This is the key to time management. By doing this, you will not have to rush and the quality of your work will not be negatively affected.
Setting deadlines will help give you a sense of urgency and thus motivate you to act accordingly.
6. Provide time allowances for unexpected events
As a medical assistant, there are instances when unexpected events occur. For instance, a patient with no appointment may suddenly appear and demand to be seen by the doctor due to an emergency.
Or maybe the other MA you work with is out sick and you have to fulfill her tasks for the day as well as your own. Try to allot a few hours each day for the unexpected, if at all possible.
When you set aside time for such events, it should not negatively impact the rest of your day.
7. Track your progress.
Let’s say it has been two weeks since you have implemented a time management system into your job. How are you doing so far? Take time to honestly evaluate your progress from an outside perspective.
If you feel there is little to no improvement and you remain backlogged, then you must be missing something. Maybe you are not sticking to the schedule. Perhaps you have not shaken off the habit of extending your lunch break.
Whatever time management issue is keeping you from boosting your performance as MA must be resolved. If necessary, adjust your current goals or create a new plan.
8. Carry a notepad and pen at all times.
You might have to be in a various areas at different times. Therefore, it is always smart to carry a pen and paper or a mobile phone with you at all times.
This way you can record patient requests, phone calls, instructions from the doctor, and other essential matters that you may forget about if you do not write them down.
Always remember to go back to these notes and incorporate them into your goals or to do list. This will help you stay organized throughout the day.
9. Wear a waterproof watch.
In managing your time wisely, it is crucial to wear a watch or have a phone with you at all times. It is helpful to keep track of time so that you can stay on schedule, make time adjustments, and stay within the allotted time period for each task.
It will also enable you to be prompt in your appointments and meetings. As a MA, it is advisable to buy a waterproof watch so you don’t need to take it off when washing your hands or administering some medication.
Try to synchronize your watch with that of the doctor your work with and the other employees in the doctor’s office.
10. Carry your cellphone in a waterproof case and lanyard.
Sometimes, you may need your cellphone to record a patient’s contact number or to send a reminder. It is also vital that your boss is able to reach you at any time.
For instance, let’s say you are in the x-ray lab assisting a patient and the physician suddenly has to leave the office. Shortly, you will probably be called back to the office to attend to patients in the waiting room.
Be sure to store your phone in a waterproof case to keep it from damage and attach the case securely around your neck using a lanyard or sturdy necklace. This will still allow you to use both of your hands while working.
Learning these 10 tips on time management as a MA will not instantly contribute to your success. You have to work hard at it and keep in mind that managing your time in an efficient manner will greatly enhance your overall job performance and allow you to excel in your career.
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