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Look behind the scenes (or behind the desk) of any well-run medical/healthcare facility and you’ll find at least one Medical Office Assistant (MOA) taking care of the necessary details of the business. Look up medical office administration duties and you’ll quickly understand why this role is so integral to medical and healthcare offices.
These hard-working people-oriented team members take care of many of the front-end tasks of a doctor’s office, naturopathic clinic, nursing home or extended care facility, medical clinic, community health centre and other numerous other facilities. Of course, they also take care of a lot of the back-end work too! This wide range of tasks includes things like: greeting patients in-person or by phone, taking and scheduling appointments, managing health insurance paperwork processes and billing issues, directing patients to other healthcare service providers, scheduling doctors and rooms, providing test results to patients, filing and many others.
It’s not easy being on the front-lines of a medical office but it is definitely rewarding, especially for those who are passionate about helping others achieve their optimal health and get a kick out of knowing medical terminology and how the healthcare system works. It can be a demanding, high-stress and high pressure job with a lot of inter-personal communication with patients, doctors and other healthcare providers as well as other team members.
If this appeals to you, you may want to look into taking a MOA education program that will make you stand out among other job candidates, allowing you to be hired quickly and provide quality work in a minimal amount of time.
Many schools that offer MOA education design their programs to provide the healthcare information and skills needed that allow graduates to contribute to their new employer from day one. With the right education, this is possible because training will include working with modern systems currently in use in the field and a practicum to ensure the education and skills are applied correctly and efficiently. Whether it’s knowing medical keyboarding to input reports, understanding scheduling programs, making sense of MSP, WCB, ICBC and other billing processes or getting to know transcription software and the medical terms involved, medical offices want someone who is job ready and can take tasks on immediately upon being hired.
Look to a school that has a faculty with experience in the healthcare field, provides classes in a broad-reaching realm of healthcare studies and understands the need for flexibility. After all, your desire is to get to work in healthcare, not to spend years in a classroom hearing about it! Some schools overload students with unnecessary information, others teach outdated systems, but the ones to look for ensure the education provided meets the needs of the majority of healthcare facilities on modern tools without overdoing it. Check course descriptions and timelines of courses to get a feel for what each education institution offers and if the program’s duration and level of information sound right to you.
At the basic level, a great program should include courses in areas like understanding medical terminology (including spelling and pronunciation as well as the root of words to allow for an understanding of less-familiar terms when on the job), anatomy and physiology to understand body systems, medical keyboarding and transcription, business communication (such as letters, reports and presentations), administrative procedures (phone systems, scheduling systems, inventory control and record management), billing and insurance practices and procedures and ideally a practicum.
Imagine if a doctor or nurse had to manage all of the medical office administration duties in addition to seeing patients. There wouldn’t be any time for the patients! This is why healthcare facilities are so reliant on the skills of MOAs. MOAs ultimately ensure the office runs smoothly day in and day out and their job is valued. As more healthcare facilities open (alternative healthcare providers, private medical practices, private hospitals, etc.) the need for those who can take on the responsibilities of a medical office manager is growing.
In addition to taking on and managing the overall administrative processes of a medical office, MOAs also have to have a thorough understanding of how to keep patient records organized, accessible and safe in order to meet patient and government privacy expectations. While some doctors, nurses and others in the healthcare field have a solid understanding of the importance of patient privacy and the government’s mandate of it, most don’t have the time to get into the details of how to ensure their practice, office or clinic follows the rules and standards. A MOA who has this education and the ability to put it into action will become a greatly-valued team member.
MOAs also ensure a smoothly running operation and contribute to the overall culture of a medical facility. Considering a medical reception job description, these individuals are the touch-points for almost everyone who comes into the practice, whether it’s patients, staff or visiting healthcare providers. By creating a warm and welcoming environment, in person and on the phone, ensuring all appointments and tasks are scheduled, and keeping records and documentation filed properly, the office will have a much more relaxed flow that keeps stress to a minimum.
If all of this sounds appealing, but you’re still not sure if it’s the right career for you, it’s completely understandable. Taking the leap into a new career and investing in education can be a big commitment. To get a better feel for whether becoming a MOA is the right choice for you, a great resource is a job search site like Indeed.
A recent search of the site found many postings throughout BC with a salary high of $29.40 an hour. While the majority of healthcare facilities will use the term “Medical Office Assistant” in the title of their job posting, be flexible in your search and look up other related terms like “Healthcare Administrative Assistant” and “Medical Office Receptionist”.
Take your time to determine if this is the right future job for you, and if you find that it is, be prepared to be one of the most valued members of a healthcare facility’s team as you progress into your new career.