10 Tips for Medical Assistants When Taking Patient Histories

Medical assistants play a vital role in the healthcare industry. They are often the first point of contact between patients and doctors, and play a crucial role in taking patient histories.

To effectively take patient histories, medical assistants must be able to do the following seven things:

1. Greet the Patient in a Friendly and Professional Manner

When taking patient histories, medical assistants must always greet the patient in a friendly and professional manner. This first impression can set the tone for the rest of the interaction, so it is important to be polite and respectful from the start.

2. Make Small Talk to Put the Patient at Ease

Making small talk with the patient can help to put them at ease and make them more comfortable with sharing personal information. This step is especially important if the patient is nervous or anxious about their visit.

3. Ask the Patient about Their Current Symptoms

To get a better understanding of what might be wrong with the patient, medical assistants should ask about their current symptoms. This includes asking about the severity of the symptoms, how long they have been experiencing them, and if there are any triggers that make the symptoms worse.

4. Probe for More Information about the Symptoms

Once the medical assistant has a general understanding of the patient’s symptoms, they should probe for more information. This may include asking the patient to describe the symptoms in more detail, or to provide examples of when the symptoms are at their worst.

5. Ask about the Patient’s Medical History

Medical assistants should also ask about the patient’s medical history, which can provide valuable insights into the patient’s current condition. This may include asking about previous illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations.

6. Take Note of Any Medications the Patient Is Currently Taking

It is also important for medical assistants to take note of any medications the patient is currently taking. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medications. This information can be important in determining the best course of treatment for the patient.

7. Thank the Patient for Their Time and Cooperation

After the patient’s history has been taken, medical assistants should thank the patient for their time and cooperation. This helps to build rapport and trust between the patient and the medical assistant, which can be important in providing quality healthcare.

8. Avoid Offering Opinions or Advice

Medical assistants should avoid offering their own opinions or advice to patients. This can interfere with the doctor’s ability to make an accurate diagnosis and provide the best possible treatment.

9. Schedule Follow-Up Appointments

If the patient requires further testing or treatment, medical assistants should ensure that the patient has scheduled a follow-up appointment. This helps to ensure that the patient receives the care they need in a timely manner.

10. Keep Patient Information Confidential

Medical assistants must keep all patient information confidential. This means that patient information should only be shared with those who have a legitimate need to know. This helps to protect the patient’s privacy and ensures that their medical information is not shared without their consent.


Taking a patient’s history is an important part of a medical assistant’s job. By asking the right questions and taking note of important information, medical assistants can help doctors provide the best possible care for their patients.

Medical assistants should always keep their questions professional and respectful, and they should ensure that the patient is comfortable with the questions they are being asked. By doing so, they can help to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

Jumpstart your medical assisting career by enrolling in a certified medical assistant program at Northwest Suburban College! Our programs are focused on providing you with quality, affordable education, and accelerated programs. Get in touch with us today so you can determine your next step!

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