What Is a Medical Office Assistant?

A medical office assistant performs the expected duties of an office assistant and some added duties that come with working at a healthcare facility. Depending on the specific job title, this may include both clerical and clinical duties. Read on to learn more about the job duties and economic outlook for this profession. Schools offering Medical Office Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Overview

Medical office assistants are known by a variety of titles, including medical secretary, medical administrative assistant, medical assistant, medical office receptionist, clinic clerk and clinical assistant. The specific title often depends on the type of healthcare facility and whether the job includes clinical or laboratory responsibilities.

Important Facts About Medical Office Assisting

Professional Certification Available in the form of the Certified Medical Assistant, Registered Medical Assistant, National Certified Medical Assistant, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant
Key Skills Analytical, technical, and detail oriented skills
Work Environment Doctors' offices, dentists' offices, hospitals, nursing homes and public health agencies
Similar Occupations Dental Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Clerical Duties

Medical office assistants perform such clerical duties as filing, answering phones, scheduling appointments, submitting insurance forms, collecting payments, basic bookkeeping, arranging hospital admissions and interacting with patients. In addition, they may be required to learn medical transcription and coding.

Clinical Duties

Some medical office assistant assume responsibilities beyond the usual office procedures, such as taking patients' vital statistics and medical histories, preparing examination rooms and entering data on patient charts. They may also perform certain laboratory tests, assist with patient examinations and sterilize instruments. Assistants who perform clinical or laboratory duties often have some academic background in healthcare, but many learn such duties on the job.

Education and Training

Educational requirements for medical office assistants vary. While it is possible to enter the field with only a high school diploma, formal education and on-the-job training are generally required. Medical assistants generally need to complete a certificate or diploma program that includes both coursework and laboratory experience. In addition, medical assistants have to complete an exam to perform advanced tasks in some states. Medical secretaries usually need to complete some training to introduce them to medical terminology.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects very fast employment growth for both medical assistants and medical secretaries from 2012 to 2022 (www.bls.gov). Growth for both occupations is much faster than average, at 29% for medical assistants and 36% for medical secretaries. As the population ages and requires more health services, medical office assistants will be needed to perform tasks at healthcare facilities. While certification improves job prospects for medical assistants, computer skills and work experience are helpful for medical secretaries.

According to May 2014 BLS salary data, medical secretaries earned $33,530 on average. As of the same year, medical assistants earned an average salary of $31,220.

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