Some people are naturally drawn to work in the medical field but may shy away from the extensive education requirements of becoming a doctor or dentist – not everyone working in the field wants to invest that many years in school! For those looking to make a difference in the health of others, but wanting to keep the educational aspect at a lower level the role of medical office assistant may be the right fit.
While educational requirements vary from employer to employer, there are medical office assistant courses that can be taken once the prospective student has a high school diploma (some institutions also require CPR and AED First Aid Certification). This post-secondary training can lead to a variety of exciting careers like working in physician offices, nursing homes, chiropractic offices, billing centres for medical offices, hospitals, health centres and more. The medical office assistant program is quite rewarding in itself with a vast amount of knowledge being taught in a relatively short period of time.
Medical office assistant job description
Job duties will depend upon the kind of medical facility a medical office assistant chooses to work in. However, in a general sense, duties tend to be administrative in nature ranging through scheduling appointments and talking to patients during their admission into the office, filing and handling medial documentation and making outside appointments with other treatment facilities. Medical office assistants may also assist the health care practitioner directly by weighing patients and taking down medical information and vital signs like blood pressure.
The range for a medical office assistant salary is broad; from $25,000 to $45,000 a year depending upon experience, education and duties. Some roles within the field may have salaries for medical office assistants that fall outside this range due to it being a growing field with much diversity.
Medical office assistant program
If this sounds of interest, it’s good to know what the medical office assistant courses generally include. While not all offices will require the course, having it up front will likely put you in a more favourable hiring position than someone who doesn’t have this background.
As mentioned, some medical office assistant programs require CPR and AED First Aid Certification and all require a high school diploma. From these beginnings, students will learn a variety of things including:
- Medical Terminology – to help understand the spelling, meaning and pronunciation of the various terms used in the medical community. Obviously this is a base for all the other education to come in a program due to medical terminology fluency requirements throughout the program.
- Anatomy and Physiology – to provide basic understanding of body systems, organs and functions as well as learning on pathology.
- Business and Medical Communications– to create an understanding and applicable knowledge of how a medical office operates, creation of documents (letters, memos, reports), medical keyboarding skills and transcription. There will also be exposure to various tools including software and transcription products including scheduling software and the skills needed to properly schedule meetings, appointments and other time requirements of someone in the medical field.
- Record-keeping and Filing Systems Including Billing – to help students understand the importance of accurate record keeping, precise filing, and the ethics involved in these areas. Students will also learn about communication between pharmacists and physicians as well as the forms and procedures included in the various types of medical billing.
- A practicum – While not all medical office assistant courses include a practicum, this component is important to help those in a medical office assistant program apply their learning under the guidance of a practising professional in the medical field and help determine the types of jobs within the field that are the best fit.
Medical Office Assistant Job Description Specifics
Job postings for medical office assistant positions can reveal a lot about the occupation before a potential student decides whether to take a program or not. Do a quick search of a few of the standard job sites to see what types of duties are listed in jobs you might qualify for and want to apply for once you complete the program. If you can imagine being happy spending your day doing the things noted, it’s a good chance taking one of the medical office assistant programs will be a good step for you.
In a quick review of postings, all of the duties required are covered off by the basics of a medical office assistant course as noted above. A successful student can be confident in applying for one of these positions knowing they have the skills they need – they just need to put their best foot forward and shine during the interview.
Some of the specific duties noted in postings includes: Patient and colleague relations, clinic scheduling, report compilation, general office management, answering phones, greeting patients, setting up exam rooms, ordering supplies, typing medical and legal reports, booking patients, etc.
Beyond these specific skills, some of the personal skills to take note of that were listed in job postings include: confident, pleasant, professional, ability to multi-task, punctual, ability to prioritize tasks, ability to follow detailed instructions, etc.
Of note is that more often than not, job postings did request graduation from a medical office assistant certificate program from an accredited community college. Some also required related experience in a similar capacity, which a practicum would assist with, possibly even providing a form of employment after graduation in some cases.
Is being a medical office assistant the right job for you?
If you’ve thought you’d be a perfect fit in the medical field, working with patients and helping to deliver their best care, but have been afraid of the long-term nature of the education process, the role of medical office assistant may be perfect for you. It’s a demanding job with a wide range of opportunities from traditional medical settings like hospitals and doctor’s offices to less traditional environments like naturopathic clinics, chiropractic offices and medical program billing centres.
If you enjoy working with people in a fast-paced environment with numerous career options at your feet, definitely look into the schools that provide medical office assistant programs to get your education started and get up to speed on the options for your future.