A medical administrative assistant is basically a secretary, record keeper, and bookkeeper rolled into one who happens to be well-versed in medical concepts, terminology, and technology. They may serve as personal assistants to physicians or, less commonly, they may report directly to department supervisors.
The secretarial tasks include greeting patients, ensuring their comfort, answering phone calls, coordinating correspondence, scheduling appointments, and setting up travel arrangements. They may also need to facilitate hospital admissions and laboratory examinations.
A medical administrative assistant is assigned record-keeping activities that include updating, organizing and retrieving patient records, accomplishing insurance forms, and transcribing and filing physician dictations.
Bookkeeping responsibilities include billing the patient and paying the bills, performing bank deposits, balancing the books, maintaining account journals, and even handling the office payroll.
The aforementioned tasks are just some of the tasks a medical administrative assistant does. In addition, they must always appear presentable, well-groomed, and approachable. Medical administrative assistants must be able to be empathetic towards patients while maintaining professionalism and confidentiality. Finally, the medical administrative assistant must be a team player, follow instructions completely, yet demonstrate initiative when necessary. After reading this article, you should now be able to answer, “What does a medical administrative assistant do?”
Medical Assistants who have an administrative role can be expected to carry out the following roles:
- Organize patient examinations and appointments and follow up, if necessary.
- Reply to the phone and take messages for the medical staff.
- Record patient data into medical databases according to the proper procedures and codes.
- Enter any patient medical history and individual information.
- Carry out any other administrative tasks needed by other healthcare personnel
- Greet patients
- Coding and completing insurance forms
- Outsourcing the services of affiliate facilities to arrange admissions or diagnostic services
Features of Administrative Medical Assistants
Administrative medical assistants must have excellent social skills since they will spend most of their time interacting with medical staff and patients. Whether responding to phones, writing letters, or greeting patients, medical assistants must be professional. Because they may have to work with busy physicians, moody patients, or uncompromising insurance companies, it is important that administrative medical assistants can manage stress without losing their cool.
Administrative medical assistants are required to be adept at multitasking. The job often requires them to remember huge amounts of data and handle multiple projects at once, all while working in a bustling environment. The most successful medical assistants can keep their calm, even faced with a multitude of tasks.
Administrative Medical Assistant Skills
Administrative medical assisting is best suited to those with field-related expertise developed through formal training. Administrative medical assistants must be excellent communicators and use correct spelling and grammar when completing professional documents or communicating on paper. In addition, administrative medical assistants must be highly knowledgeable in using computers and common applications like word processing and spreadsheets like excel.
Since administrative medical assistants often undertake billing and light bookkeeping tasks, they need to be good with numbers and have a good eye for detail. Administrative medical assistants must be comfortable with handling finances and recording transactions accurately, even in a busy setting.
Finally, administrative medical assistants must be used to the coding, insurance billing practices, and software commonly used in medical facility offices.
Accredited medical assisting programs provide graduates with a majority of these skills and more.
Nature of the Work for Medical Administrative Assistant
Administrative medical assistants do their work in well-lit, comfortable settings and typically work a 40-hour week. Considering the practice’s needs, the assistant may have to work evenings, weekends, or even on a part-time basis.
During a normal workday, administrative medical assistants will carry out much of the clerical work required to keep medical facilities running effectively. This includes responding to phone calls, scheduling appointments, taking and recording payments, and filing and pulling patient information.
Administrative medical assistants may also fill out insurance forms, talk with insurance companies, track inventories and order medical or equipment supplies.
It is also common for administrative medical assistants to plan patient hospital admissions and laboratory tests. Depending on the size of the practice, administrative medical assistants may also be required to carry out clinical tasks as directed by the physician.
Education and Training for Medical Administrative Assistant
Currently, there are many formal medical assistant programs that can prepare you to become an administrative medical assistant. You may decide to earn your degree in a traditional classroom setting or through one of the many online schools that are available. Regardless of how you choose, make sure your program is properly authenticated by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
A good program will also include classes in patient scheduling, healthcare data management, insurance filing and reimbursement, bookkeeping, medical billing and coding, automated office management, and much more.
Practicing as an Administrative medical assistant will provide you with a great career and numerous job opportunities. In this position, you can enjoy working with a team of dedicated staff while earning a salary of $45,000 or more, depending on your area of work and your specific job position.
If you are thinking of entering into this dynamic career field, the first initiative is to look for an accredited medical assisting program and jump-start your formal training.
Anyone can become a medical administrative assistant. However, if you dream of going into this field, you should be aware that there are certain objectives and milestones you will need to hit before you can be considered eligible for such a position. While these step by step procedures aren’t nearly as rigorous as the ones required to become doctors, they are still important and cannot just be shrugged aside or dismissed.
While there may be some instances where this doesn’t apply, generally, almost all medical settings will require you to have some form of post-secondary education before they hire you as an administrative assistant. If you’re thinking of a career in this field, here are the steps you should consider following for your best chance at being competitive for posts.
Earn a High School Diploma
Most medical administrative assistant employers will require to see that you have received your high school diploma. In case this is not possible, seek a GED or other high school diploma equivalent.
Search for Post-Secondary Options
There are several numerous options in this category that you can select to pursue. Medical administrative assistant programs will differ in length, but some can be wrapped up in as little as a year. Upon completion of such a program, you will be able to obtain either a Diploma or a certificate that confirms your completion.
You might also look for a similar program at your local area college that leads to a full associate’s degree. These programs will usually take slightly longer, at an average of two years. While it’s difficult to predict if potential employers will require this or not, it will certainly help you stand out in this field.
Some of the classes you will likely take might include:
- Office Operations
- Medical Insurance
- Accounting or Bookkeeping
- Basic Medical Processes
In addition to such coursework, some of these educational programs may allow internships in medical-related environments. Such experiences are valuable and will allow you to gain real-world training to help you get your feet up before fully starting your career.
Get Your First Basic Job
Once you’ve cleared your education and potentially sought certification, you’re ready to begin applying for work. Search through local job postings until you find entry-level positions, enhance your resume with all your latest credentials and experience, and take it in. If you’re having difficulty finding open positions, remember to look at all the available medical practices near you, from large hospitals and emergency rooms to small dentist offices.
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Administrative Medical Assistant Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggested that medical assistants see a 23% projected rise in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. This significant upsurge was due in part to aging demography in need of medical services. Medical assistants made a median yearly wage of $30,590 in May 2015.
Although most of the technicalities for medical office assistants is on the job, it’s possible to earn a certificate or associate’s degree to prepare for this career field. The BLS suggests that job growth in this field from 2014-2024 will be much faster than normal compared to all occupations.
Why is the Medical Administrative Assistant Job Projection so High?
Why are analysis professionals predicting that medical assistants will be in such high demand in the future?
The answer lies in the huge size of the Baby Boomer generation. Before Millennials officially became the largest generation in America, this title refers to the Baby Boomers. A majority of this generation is now well into their 60s and will soon be reaching their 70s and 80s. It is, however, undisputedly true that with old age often comes a multitude of health problems and complications.
As these large numbers of people start to approach the age when their health may begin to fail, there will be a higher demand for medical personnel of all types. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, and countless types of specialists are expected to widen their areas of practice. This implies that these doctors will need to hire more bookkeepers, billers, and of course, medical administrative assistants.
Another reason the field is estimated to expand so rapidly is our technological advancements. Due to technology, medical knowledge and abilities continue to expand and grow, new procedures are discovered every day.
New cures and solutions are being found, which means new practices and facilities need to be put up as more and more people seek out these new incentives. This results in more need for medical administrative assistants services.
In simple terms, if you’re considering entering the field of medical office work, the odds may be in your favour. There are many jobs to go around in this field, and the likelihood of you being able to secure a good job is very promising.