How To Become A Medical Administrative Assistant

The medical industry is one that is growing very quickly. This means that a career in this industry is a good one to pursue as you will always be in demand and there will always be work for you no matter where you are. This news is beneficial to doctors, nurses, and other medical experts. However, it can also benefit you. If you become a medical administrative assistant you will be in a position to work in a physician or doctor’s practice in a clerical position.

The tasks you will fulfill will not be restricted to the clerical side of things however. You will be required to deal with clients and patients and in some cases even do such things as arrange hospital admission for them. However, these are skills that can be learned on the job and no formal training is required in order to work in this area.

It is above all a safe industry to become involved in as you will be in a position of job security and you will always know that there will be work for you out there somewhere. If you are interested in becoming a medical administrative assistant, keep on reading to find out exactly how this can be achieved, as well as why it is a recommended course of action.

What Is A Medical Administrative Assistant?

Essentially a medical administrative assistant is an assistant that works in a medical setting helping a physician or another medical expert perform their job efficiently. What they specifically do is deal with the administration and clerical side of the situation, thereby freeing up the health professional in question to do his or her job more efficiently. It is a very clerical position, but a certain amount of medical terminology and procedures will come in handy, although these will be picked up as you go along.

Medical Assistant vs. Physician Assistant

It is very important that you don’t get the position of a medical administrative assistant confused with the position of a physician’s assistant as the two are very different. A Physician Assistant has a license that allows them to practice medicine, while a medical administrative assistant does not (although many voluntarily choose to become registered this is not compulsory).

Administrative Assistant vs. Clinical Assistant

There are basically two possible roles you may fulfill as a medical assistant, namely a medical administrative assistant or a medical clinical assistant. A medical administrative assistant has a very clerical role in the office and is also responsible for protecting confidentiality and patient privacy. They are also the ones who are mainly responsible for ensuring that data regarding a patient is correctly recorded and that there are no errors in patient records.

What Does A Medical Office Assistant Do?

There are several different areas in which you can work as a medical administrative assistant, and each of these fields are subtly different. Before making a decision about a career path you need to know exactly what you are getting yourself into when you embark on that path. Knowing the basic duties that you will have to perform is essential in making an informed choice. However, once you have studied the required duties of a medical administrative assistant you will soon realize that the job is not an unpleasant one in the least.

Basic Responsibilities

As becoming a medical administrative assistant is your focus, we will first outline the basic duties of a medical administrative assistant before looking at this role in more detail and spending a little time considering some of the other medical assistant positions that are available.

The basic functions of a medical administrative assistant are:

  • Keeping and updating all records, whether they are electronic or paper-based, in order to ensure smooth and efficient running of the practice.
  • Serving as a book keeper to the physician that they work for, and dealing with the receiving and paying of accounts.
  • Adjusting the schedule where necessary when an emergency presents itself.
  • Ensuring that all patients that visit the offices or practice of the physician they are employed by fill out all of the relevant forms.
  • Greeting clients and patients and directing them on what their next course of action needs to be.
  • Scheduling appointments, providing patients and clients with the information they need, and answering the telephone and responding to emails and faxes when necessary.
  • Obtaining the required documentation from the patients regarding insurance verification and gaining authorization from their insurance agency, and processing insurance claim documentation when required.
  • Arranging appointments for the patient with other services such as with the radiology department.
  • Dealing with the front office and taking care of all related responsibilities.
  • Assisting patients with things such as hospital admissions by calling on their behalf.
  • Dealing with any general or clerical activities that need to be handled in the office of the physician that they work for.

In addition there are a few specific skills you will also need to develop:

  • You will need to become knowledgeable of laboratory procedures, skills that can be gained through formal training or while you are on the job.
  • You will have to know how to read and understand patient records, and you will have to be prepared to become familiar with the large number of patient records that will pass through your hands on a weekly basis.
  • You will have to be able to transcribe. This involves knowledge of medical terminology and ways of speaking.
  • You will have to be able to handle medical billing as well as understanding the various codes that are used to categorise things.

Work Environment

Medical Administrative Assistant
Something that you should be aware of in any job is the working environment. The working environment affects your productivity. There are certain aspects of the working environment that will of course differ from job to job, such as the quality of support you get from your employee and colleagues, but there are definitely several aspects of a medical administrative assistant’s working environment that you can be sure will always stay the same regardless of where you choose to work.

The basic working environment of a medical office assistant is one that:

  • is clean
  • is well lighted
  • involves a great deal of interaction with others
  • involves the handling of several responsibilities at once
  • requires about a 40 hour week (although work can be part time)

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants are basically in charge of keeping the offices of their employer running smoothly. This means engaging in various essential clinical and administrative tasks. These tasks will of course depend on the type and size of institute that you are working for. The larger the institute, the more specialized your role in the structure of the company is likely to be. The smaller the institute the more general your role is likely to be.

Medical Administrative Assistants

There are several duties that an administrative medical assistant may have to perform:

  • answering phones, scheduling appointments, greeting patients, dealing with correspondence, dealing with bookkeeping
  • fill out insurance forms
  • keep records up to date
  • arrange admissions and services

Clinical Medical Assistants

The basis duties of clinical medical assistants are:

  • Keeping things clean and tidy
  • Taking medical histories
  • Keeping the necessary supplies and equipment in stock
  • Observing and record vital signs
  • Preparing examining rooms
  • Explaining the various procedures to patients
  • Performing basic medical duties, such as changing dressings, authorizing refills, and drawing blood (if directed to do so by a physician)
  • Preparing patients for examinations
  • Dealing with laboratory work
  • Assisting physicians during examinations

Specialized Medical Assistants

Specialized assistants will work in a specific filed, such as optometry, and will therefore have additional duties on top of those already specified.

Becoming A Medical Administrative Assistant

There are several training options available for medical assistants. You could, for example, be trained on the job, or you could complete one of the one-to-two year medical assistant programs that are available.

Something that you may be interested to know is that there are technically no formal requirements for becoming a medical administrative assistant.

If you want to become a medical administrative assistant, there is, however, a certain amount of training that may be beneficial for you to undergo (although it must be reiterated that it is not required).

Being an accredited medical office assistant will of course open your options a little wider. Usually these programs can be completed at a community or junior college, a vocational-technical high school, or a post secondary vocational school.

The skills that you will gather include:

  • Practical experience in similar environments to those in which you will work once qualified.
  • Courses in anatomy, medical terminology, and physiology.
  • Knowledge about how to diagnose a patient, how to administer medication, basic first aid, procedures used in a laboratory, and pharmaceutical principles.
  • Basic information regarding ethics, office etiquette and protocol, how to relate to patients and the laws governing the medical field.
  • Basic courses in transcription, accounting, and other basic administrative duties.

However, many assistants are trained on the job. Other things that may be beneficial to you include:

  • High school subjects: bookkeeping, mathematics, biology, health, computers, office skills, and keyboarding.
  • Volunteer work in health care.

You will also need to:

  • be neat
  • be a good people person
  • able to abide by rules of confidentiality
  • have good motor coordination
  • have good vision

In some cases you will be allowed to do more advanced work if you have been trained appropriately.

Becoming a medical administrative assistance will open up your possibilities as you will be able to advance to other careers through further medical assistant training.

Employment Opportunities For Medical Administrative Assistants

You will be relieved to hear that the medical administrative assistant industry is growing very quickly, and in fact falls into the fastest growing occupations category. This means that should you decide to become a medical office assistant, you will not find yourself lacking a job.

The places where you may be employed are:

  • Outpatient care centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Residential care facilities
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Private hospitals
  • Public hospitals
  • Other health care offices (e.g. chiropractors’ offices)

There are several specific fields that you may qualify for as a medical administrative assistant. These are:

  • Medical Records Clerk
  • Health Information Specialist
  • Medical Coder
  • Coding Technician
  • Insurance Claims Analyst
  • Coding Specialist
  • Medical Billings Specialist

What Does The Future Look Like For Medical Administrative Assistants?

As has been mentioned previously, the future for medical assistants looks very bright indeed. There are many job opportunities in this line of work, and it is a fast growing profession. Of course, it will be easier if you have the above-mentioned training, but you should be able to find work fairly easily even if your plan is to train on the job. Generally speaking there is a constantly increasing demand for health care workers in all professions. This is due to the increase in prevalence of certain diseases as well as the advancements in medical technology. This means further job growth for the medical industry. If you are looking to get into an industry where there is a lot of room for growth and where you will be comfortable and secure, than becoming a medical administrative assistant is definitely a wise choice to consider for you.

What Does A Medical Administrative Assistant Earn?

Another important thing to consider when looking for a career is the reimbursement. Money isn’t everything, but it is a practical consideration that you absolutely have to give some thought to. Pay for a medical administrative assistant can vary from $25,240 (usually working in offices of health practitioners such as optometrists and so on) to $29,720 (usually in hospitals). Those who work in the educational arena, in the offices of physicians and in outpatient care centers receive between about $28,570 and $28,820.

The arguments in favor of becoming a medical administrative assistant are very strong indeed. In fact, if you are trying to find a job and think that you have what it takes to fulfill this demanding position, then this is the occupation for you. You will soon realize that becoming a medical administrative assistant is the best decision you can make.

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