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Medical Office Assistant: Develop Your Skill Sets

By: Alex Nikotina

Published On: November 23, 2017

The medical field is a very rewarding, but also a very demanding area to work in. Everything in a hospital, a clinic or a health centre should be working smoothly in order to ensure that patients are tended to and are receiving the highest quality care. This is especially applicable to Medical Office Assistants.

Medical office assistants are the crucial part of the medical units. They are the first and the last point of contact for the patient. They meet the patient, help them schedule appointments and take care of insurance and contact information. They also are the ones to reach out to the patient with additional information, issue prescriptions or arrange hospitalization. Their key role is being the link between patients and medical staff, keeping everything organized and providing high-quality assistance. When the medical office assistant is doing an excellent job, the entire medical office is being at its best.

Medical office assistance is a great profession for people who want to get a head start in the medical office, but this role requires substantial knowledge and skill sets. So what are the key things you need to focus on to become a medical office assistant?

Key Skills for Medical Office Assistants

Organizational Skills and Multitasking

Working in the medical field requires you to always be organized. Medical office assistants deal with various tasks: talking to the patients, preparing and updating patients’ medical files or insurance paperwork, scheduling and confirming appointments, issuing prescriptions… There are a lot of different areas to tend to. This is especially true if you work in a busy practice: you need to be able to move between tasks quickly, smoothly, and accurately. If you want to succeed in the medical field, organizational tasks and ability to multitask are definitely key skills that you need to develop. Otherwise, you will find yourself under a lot of pressure and stress.

If you are able to remain calm and composed throughout busy work days, you will definitely be a great asset to the medical team.

Communication Skills

In the twenty-first-century job market, most jobs require people to have excellent written and oral communication skills. However, these skills go one step further for medical office professionals. As the key link between physicians and individuals who come for treatments, a medical office assistant needs to be well-mannered and pleasant in their communication, but also specific and concise when they deliver messages.

  • Communicating with patients: In the medical office, you get to talk to many people with different reactions to their experiences and pain. People may feel uncomfortable in the doctor’s office. They may also get angry or distressed, or start panicking. It is your responsibility to exercise great interpersonal skills in those situations and remain calm, supportive and understanding. You need to present information to the patients in a professional manner, be it in-person or over the phone. On top of that, you need to maintain patients’ confidentiality.
  • Communicating with doctors: It could be beneficial to learn more about each medical professional you assist and work with. It may be the case that they have certain preferences when it comes to patient treatment or communication with the medical team. You should continuously focus on developing and strengthening your professional relationships with the doctors in the office, as it will help make your work smoother and easier.

Focus on Continuous Learning

If you are passionate about continuous learning and development, then you are definitely in the right career. As a medical office assistant, you need to continuously keep up with the new terminology, new procedures and new technologies.

  • Medical terminology: You definitely need to know and understand medical terminology in order to be familiar and comfortable with your daily routine. Even if you have taken a medical office assistant course before, it could be a good idea to continue refreshing your knowledge in the medical area.
  • Medical keyboarding and transcription: You definitely need to be proficient in various medical procedures, including medical keyboarding, medical billing, medical office transcription, and many others. Apart from the professional use of computers, you would need to know how to utilize different medical and clinical software and other tools. Clinics and medical offices may also decide to upgrade to a different software system, which means you would need to be able to adapt to new technologies. At the same time, you also need to understand how to work with print files and how to fill out paperwork. If the software stops working, that does not mean that you do!

Become a Medical Office Assistant

The first step towards becoming a medical office assistant is getting additional education and field training. Although medical administrative professionals only need a minimum education of a secondary school, it is difficult to find medical office assistant jobs without appropriate education in the medical field. A great place to start your career is to enrol in medical office assistant course and get a Medical Office Assistant Diploma or Certificate. This will not only give you the necessary credibility but will also allow you to take advantage of the co-op or practicum experience in a clinical environment.

After you gain the necessary training and practical experience, it’s time to apply for medical office assistant jobs! You can seek employment in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, community health centres and other key medical areas. Carefully look through each job description and make sure you highlight your knowledge and experiences in your applications! If you have the skill sets mentioned in this article, you will definitely be successful in your job hunt.

Remember: finding a job is not the end goal. The end goal is to grow as a helping professional: continuously contribute to your workplace, provide the necessary help to the patients and support to the doctors, and grow your skills and knowledge in the medical field. Whether medical office assistance is just a stepping stone on your journey or your goal all along, your medical office assistant salary will definitely be satisfying if you know how to work hard.


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