A Guide to a Medical Administrative Assistant Career
Interested in a healthcare career, but not sure if you’re cut out for the demands of working with patients?
Even if you can’t picture yourself as a doctor or a nurse, you can still find a rewarding career track in healthcare. There are plenty of opportunities on the administrative side of healthcare that allow you to enjoy the benefits of a fast-paced job in a rapidly growing career field, all while making a difference in others’ lives.
A career as a medical administrative assistant, for example, is an ideal entry point to the field of healthcare administration, with ample employment opportunities and room for career advancement.
If you’re detail-oriented and enjoy helping others, then a career in medical office administration could be a good fit for you. Here’s what you need to know to get started:
What do medical administrative assistants do?
The job of a medical administrative assistant is different than that of a medical assistant. Medical assistants work alongside doctors and nurses, while medical administrative assistants are stationed behind the front desk and are vital to the day-to-day operations of a medical office.
As a medical administrative assistant, you’ll serve as a liaison between the physician and the patient. It’s your responsibility to relay patient concerns to the doctor and help patients understand important information about their upcoming visits. You’ll also be in charge of updating patient records, scheduling appointments and greeting patients as they enter the office.
Even though they are not directly involved in patient care, medical administrative assistants play an important role in ensuring patients have a smooth and hassle-free healthcare visit. Seeing a doctor can be stressful, but medical administrative assistants make patients feel welcome and comfortable.
What skills do medical administrative assistants need?
Successful medical administrative assistants have good communication skills and are compassionate and supportive in their interactions with patients.
“Often, you can help reduce a patient’s anxiety about an upcoming procedure by relaying information from the physician in terms that the patient can understand,” says Christine Kirtley, medical assisting program chair at Herzing University.
“Attention to detail is also extremely important in the front office,” says Kirtley. “Mistakes can be costly – for both the practice and the patient – so it’s critical that you are thorough and meticulous, especially when it comes to recording patient information and filing insurance claims.”
Medical administrators also need advanced computer skills and an understanding of medical terminology and protocols.
How do I become a medical administrative assistant?
A diploma or associate degree in medical office administration can help prepare you for entry-level healthcare administrator roles. You’ll start by learning medical terminology and basic medical billing procedures – a foundation of knowledge that you can build on later in your career.
You can advance your medical administrator career by pursuing a degree in healthcare management. Taking this next step will help you gain the analytical, problem solving, management and leadership skills you need to stay competitive in the changing healthcare industry and can prepare you for roles as a health insurance manager, physician practice manager and more.
At Herzing, diploma graduates can seamlessly transition to the associate degree program, and associate degree graduates can easily move on into the bachelor’s healthcare management degree program. This makes it possible for you to work in career-level jobs throughout your post-secondary studies.
“I chose a degree in medical office administration because of the variety of possibilities the degree provides,” said Herzing University graduate Rhiannon McCalliRhiaps. “The medical field is always growing. People are always going to get sick or hurt and need to go to the doctor.”
“When I started going to school, I was stuck at a dead-end job. The only light at the end of the tunnel was my education,” McCallips said. “I knew that a degree in the medical field would provide me with a lot of opportunities in the future. Currently, I have a job that I absolutely love at a company where there are tons of opportunities for growth.”