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How Can I Work in Medical Office Support?

A career in medical office support will include performing administrative work in a medical office as well as greeting patients when they arrive. This article looks at the skills and education you need for a career in medical office support.

Medical Office Support Job Duties

Professionals in medical office support, commonly known as administrative medical assistants or just medical assistants, perform clerical tasks in physicians', chiropractors' and other medical professionals' offices. In this position, you usually manage and update patient files, greet patients, schedule appointments and answer phones. You could also handle billing and coding, which often entails contacting insurance companies for payment information. These professionals generally don't perform clinical tasks. While some states permit qualified medical assistants to take X-rays, perform injections and conduct other clinical functions, those who specialize in administrative office support mainly focus on secretarial duties, especially in larger practices.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Average Salary (2018) $34,540 (medical assistants)*
Professional Certification Voluntary, preferred by most employers
Work Environment Over half of all medical assistants worked in physicians' offices in 2016; Full-time, may work evenings and weekends
Similar Occupations Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Nursing Assistants, Pharmacy Technicians, Dental Assistants

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Requirements

Some administrative medical assistants have only a high school diploma and complete on-the-job training. However, many assistants prepare for the career by earning a certificate or associate's degree in medical office support. These programs tend to include courses in medical terminology, medical law and ethics, word processing, office management and office procedures.

Required Skills

Since you'll often be the first to greet patients who enter the office, strong communication and customer service skills are important for this career. A basic understanding of medical law and ethics can also be beneficial. You'll usually need to be skilled in keyboarding, letter writing, filing, organization and data entry. Additionally, you could need to have knowledge of medical terminology to assist in medical transcribing.

Career Outlook Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide employment information specifically for medical administrative assistants, though it does report that jobs for medical assistants in general were expected to increase 29% between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov). This increase might correlate with a greater need for healthcare services due to the growing and aging population.