The success of most healthcare practices depends, in part, on the skill of a medical office assistant, or team of assistants. Medical office assistants ensure the healthcare organization runs smoothly by handling administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, communicating with patients and insurance companies, and maintaining medical records and charts.
They often manage the front desk and can act as a liaison by communicating important information from a patient to a doctor or other staff. While it depends on the organization they work for, medical office assistants typically enjoy a good work-life balance.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in medical office administration, here are five things you should know:
1. It’s a growing field
With an increasing number of healthcare organizations shifting to electronic records, medical office assistants are more in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of medical secretaries is expected to increase 11% from 2020-2030, which is above the national average for all occupations. Additionally, the aging population is creating a greater demand for most healthcare occupations, including medical office assistants who can help process Medicare and other claims while handling a variety of administrative tasks.
2. Certification can help you stand out
At Herzing, you can earn your diploma in medical office administration in as few as 12 months or your associate degree in medical office administration in as few as 20 months. While the associate degree program takes longer to complete, it could be more attractive to an employer and help you start on a pathway to a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.
Herzing’s medical office administration programs include preparation for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant Exam (CMAA), which is an industry-recognized credential. Certification isn’t required by all employers, but it can help make you a desirable candidate because it demonstrates that you meet the industry standard and are dedicated to your work.
3. They are different from medical assistants
While both play important roles in the healthcare industry, a medical office assistant is different from a medical assistant. Medical assistants work alongside doctors and nurses and can provide more direct patient care. Some of their responsibilities may include taking the patient’s vitals, providing visual and hearing tests, and preparing the exam room for procedures.
Medical office assistants are typically stationed at the front desk and focus more on administrative tasks such as updating patient records, scheduling appointments and greeting patients. They’re not usually directly involved with patient care, but they are responsible for ensuring patients have a pleasant and smooth experience.
4. They work in many different environments
Since many healthcare organizations require some clerical support, medical office administrators are needed in doctor’s offices as well as hospitals, clinics, long-term facilities, private practices and other healthcare offices.
At a larger facility or in a hospital, medical office assistants usually have a well-defined role. This is because hospitals are generally fast-paced and rely on many people who focus on specific tasks. In private practices, a role may be less defined because the organization is smaller and individuals are expected to help out where needed, which could allow you to learn more about the organization and the healthcare industry overall.
In addition to being a medical office assistant, other potential careers with a medical office administration diploma or degree include:
- Admitting Clerk
- Medical Receptionist
- Medical Secretary
- Medical Administrative Assistant
- Medical Clerk
5. They interact with patients
Medical office administration requires a balance of administrative and interpersonal skills, and the best assistants are compassionate and supportive during their interactions with patients. Medical office assistants may be the first face a patient sees as they walk into their appointment, so they must make the patient feel welcome. Medical office assistants can also help anxious patients feel prepared and at ease for the appointment by explaining what they can expect. They will sometimes act as an intermediary between the patient and doctor, making solid communication skills even more important.
If you like working with people, are detail-oriented and are interested in healthcare, medical office administration could be a good fit for you!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.