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What's the Job Description of a Medical Office Assistant?

If you'd like to provide supportive services in a doctor's office, but don't want to spend years in school, then a job as a medical office assistant might be for you. Keep reading to find out how to qualify for a medical office assisting position and improve your value to potential employers.

Career Overview

As a medical office assistant, you would take on both administrative and clinical tasks in a doctor's or general practitioner's office. You'd typically be responsible for keeping track of patient records and health insurance forms. You could also make appointments and check patients in, take vital signs, and prepare examination rooms for the doctor. The role of a medical office assistant differs from that of a physician's assistant in terms of specialized medical skills and state licensing; as such, there are some clinical responsibilities that you couldn't perform due to state laws.

When carrying out the check-in procedure, you'll distribute forms to get medical history and personal information from a patient and then pass that information on to the doctor. If the doctor requires your assistance, you might also work personally with patients and explain the doctor's instructions for treatment. If medications are involved, you could explain prescription requirements to patients and deal with health insurance billing. You'll often be the communication link between insurance companies, pharmacies, and patients at the office.

Important Facts About Medical Office Assistants

On-the-Job Training Not provided
Licensure None available
Key Skills Situational awareness, good judgment and decision making, customer service-oriented, good written and spoken communication, close listening, time management
Similar Occupations Dental assistants, nursing assistants, orderlies, physical therapist assistants and aides, occupational therapy assistants and aides, medical records and health information technicians

Education and Training

Generally, you can qualify to become a medical office assistant with a certificate or associate's degree in the field, though you might only need a high school diploma and training through your employer. Several community colleges and vocational schools offer programs in medical office assisting that cover emergency situations, medical billing, and medical office safety standards. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that you could also increase your job opportunities by earning a certification from a professional organization (www.bls.gov).

Certification Options

The American Association of Medical Assistants offers a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential if you'd like to earn voluntary certification (www.aama-ntl.org). To qualify, you must graduate from an accredited medical assisting program or be less than 30 days away from completing your program. CMA certification requires you to pass an exam and pay appropriate fees. Once you receive your CMA credential, you'll need to renew it every five years. To recertify, you can either take the exam again or earn approved continuing education credits.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of medical office assistants earn between $23,000 and $45,000 a year as of June 2019. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of medical office assistance, the BLS did project that the employment of medical records and health information technicians will likely grow by about 13% between 2016 and 2026, a rate faster than the average predicted for all occupations.