At the core of a doctor’s office or medical clinic is a medical administrative assistant. This person answers the phone, schedules appointments, checks in patients, files paperwork and maintains patient databases.
This fast-paced job requires the right person who can help take care of the small details at a clinic to keep it running. He or she should also have good people skills to work with patients and medical personnel to create a positive environment. If this sounds like you, learn more about the career of a medical administrative assistant and the curriculum of a medical administrative assistant program.
What Does a Medical Administrative Assistant Do?
What is a medical administrative assistant and what does a medical secretary do? Medical secretaries perform a variety of duties to help efficiently run a medical organization. Without an administrative assistant, the daily tasks and organizational needs of a clinic might not get completed. Medical secretaries are also tasked with transcribing dictation and preparing reports for physicians and other medical personnel. Additional responsibilities can include taking patients’ medical histories, arranging for patients to be hospitalized and processing insurance claims.1
Other daily secretary and administrative assistant duties, according to the BLS, can include:1
- Answering the phone, taking messages and transferring calls
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Updating event calendars for office personnel
- Scheduling staff meetings
- Handling incoming and outgoing mail
- Creating reports and memos
- Maintaining databases and filing systems (both electronic forms and paper documents)
- Perform basic bookkeeping
A medical secretary and administrative assistant job description may include these tasks and duties. To perform these duties, you should be familiar with medical terminology and codes, medical records, and hospital and laboratory procedures. You can obtain these skills through educational courses and training.
Why Become a Medical Secretary?
When choosing a career, it’s important to look at what job prospects and potential pay you can earn. According to the BLS, the overall job opportunities for medical secretaries and administrative assistants are expected to increase,2 primarily due to the growth of the healthcare industry. For example, baby boomers will require more medical services as they age. Medical secretaries will be needed to handle administrative tasks related to billing and insurance processing of Medicare and other claims.
Best States to Work as a Medical Secretary And Administrative Assistant
When looking for medical administrative assistant jobs, it’s important to know which states have the most job opportunities and which states typically pay the highest salaries.
According to the BLS, the states with the most medical secretary and administrative assistant jobs as of May 2020 were:4
Medical Administrative Assistant and Medical Secretary Jobs
Medical administrative assistants can work in a variety of environments — including an office or a hospital — and in many roles. Their responsibilities can depend on whether they work in a clinic or a hospital.6
Where Do Medical Administrative Assistants Work?
Most medical secretaries work in either a physician’s office or a hospital. The hours and responsibilities can vary depending on which environment you work in. There are some key differences in medical administration jobs and medical receptionist jobs.6
What Is the Difference Between Physician Office Jobs vs. Hospital Jobs?
One of the main differences between hospitals and clinics is the hours. Hospitals are open 24-hours a day and therefore can require some unconventional shifts. In contrast, working at a clinic may offer more stable working hours.1
Hospital jobs can also be more fast paced. The days can be busy and unpredictable and offer more variety and excitement for those who are looking for it. Medical office jobs may be more predictable with repetitive tasks and requests.
Working in an outpatient clinic can offer other perks. These positions may provide more opportunities to interact with patients and may provide chances to perform additional tasks outside of the typical medical administrative assistant job duties.
What Different Job Titles Do Medical Secretaries Have?
Medical secretaries and administrative assistants can perform many different jobs – under several different titles. Some similar jobs can include:7
- Billing Coordinator: This position focuses on handling patient invoices and payments. Some responsibilities can include creating invoices based on patient charts and services, issuing and tracking invoices, collecting third-party billing data and more.8
- Health Unit Coordinator: This role focuses on providing patients with a good experience at the hospital or clinic through communication and providing necessary information. This position can also document health information and keep patient records.9
- Medical Office Specialist: In this job, a person provides administrative support by answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, and updating medical records.1
- Patient Coordinator: This role is a patient’s primary point of contact at a clinic. This person performs administrative tasks and helps patients fill out forms, escorts them to their rooms, and shares necessary information with them about medications and care plans as dictated by a physician.11
- Unit Secretary: A unit secretary is an administrative assistant specific to a particular segment of a hospital—a unit. In hospitals with wards instead of units, they may be called a ward clerk.1
Start Your Career in Medical Administrative Assistant
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How to Become a Medical Secretary or Medical Administrative Assistant
As with many careers, there are several paths to becoming a medical secretary.
While many administrative assistants can start their career after high school without the need for additional schooling, many medical administrative assistant jobs require further education because you need to perform more specialized tasks.
According to the BLS, medical secretaries can learn industry-specific terminology and practices by attending courses offered at community colleges or technical schools.10 This medical secretary education can teach you industry-specific terminology and practices. In addition to this training, you should also possess basic computer skills like creating spreadsheets, maintaining databases and word processing.
After completing the suggested coursework, you should then pursue on-the-job training. According to the BLS, this training can last for several months as you learn best practices and the ins and outs of the requirements of the job. Certain positions might include additional requirements specific to that clinic or hospital.
Initially, you should look for entry-level positions that will allow you to enhance your skills and gain necessary experience before pursuing more high-level jobs.
Do I Need a Certificate to Be a Medical Secretary?
After completing the education to obtain a Medical Administrative Assistant certificate, you can start looking for entry-level positions in the field. Not all employers require a certificate of completion as a qualification to getting hired at the hospital or clinic. However, it may increase your chances of getting the job if you have career training or experience. This can be especially important in a competitive job market when it’s important to set yourself apart from the competition.
What to Look for in a Medical Administrative Assistant School
Not all Medical Administrative Assistant programs are the same, so it is important to select a school that offers what you are looking for regarding cost, classes, and more.
It is important to review the course catalog and ensure the school provides a curriculum that will provide you with the right information. Afterall, you want a program that is going to best prepare you for a career as a medical secretary.
Also, inquire about the Medical Office Assistant program cost. Before selecting a school, review all the costs and fees for the program to ensure it’s affordable.
How Long is a Medical Administrative Assistant Program?
The length of time it takes to complete your medical administrative assistant education can depend on the type of program you select. Some community colleges and technical schools offer a two-year program to obtain an associate degree. You can also enroll in a certificate program that can take less than a year to complete.
At Carrington College, you can complete the Medical Administrative Assistant program in as little as 9 months.
Can I Take Medical Administrative Assistant Classes Online?
Many medical secretary programs offer flexibility to take courses either in-person at the school or online. While in-person classes offer hands-on opportunities, online medical administrative programs allow you the flexibility you need – especially if you are taking classes from an out-of-state program, or you are pursuing your education while also working full-time.
What Will I Learn in Carrington’s Medical Administrative Assistant Program?
Carrington College’s Medical Administrative Assistant program gives you the classroom education and hands-on experience to secure a career as a medical secretary. After completing this program, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate the skills and knowledge required to perform medical office. procedures and administration and medical records management within the health care setting.
- Communicate with patients and other professionals and visitors in the health care setting.
- Provide patient and client information and instructions.
- Demonstrate the ability to apply critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and professionalism.
Medical Secretary Classes
You will take the following medical administrative assistant courses at Carrington College:
- Anatomy, Physiology and Terminology
- Health Care Clinical Applications
- Computer Operations
- Computer Office Applications
- Medical and Dental Insurance
- Insurance Applications
- Health Care Office Procedures 1
- Health Care Office Procedures Applications 1
- Health Care Office Procedures 2
- Health Care Office Procedures Applications 2
- Career Development Seminar
A sample of course descriptions of these medical administrative assistant classes include:
- Health Care Clinical Applications Students learn to take and record vital signs and study about blood-borne pathogens and precautionary techniques. Office emergencies and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations are presented
- Insurance Applications In this course, students gain familiarity with various types of health insurance and billing processes. Practice on the completion and submission of typical paperwork for common types of coverage is included.
- Anatomy, Physiology and Terminology The basic structure and function of the numerous systems of the human body are presented in this course. Students learn anatomy and physiology in a systems approach, along with related terminology and associated health office procedures.
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Prepare for a Career in Health Care With Carrington College
If you want to make a difference in patients’ lives by providing a positive experience at a medical office or hospital, a career as a medical administrative assistant can be the right path for you. To gain the knowledge you need to succeed in this career consider Carrington College’s Medical Administrative Assistant program. The coursework will give you the skills to be an effective medical secretary at a hospital or clinic and make a difference in the lives of patients and other medical personnel.
We offer a competitive program with beneficial courses and quality instructors. You can complete the program in as little as 9 months.
Learn more about Carrington College’s program, its benefits, and registration requirements by requesting more information.
Medical Administrative Assistant FAQ
Do I Need a Degree to Become a Medical Administrative Assistant?
A degree is not required to pursue a career as a medical secretary. However, it is recommended to improve your knowledge of the medical industry, learn technical terms and medical procedures, and to increase your chances of getting hired. Especially in a competitive job market, a medical administrative assistant degree may set you apart from the competition.
Medical Secretary Job Outlook
While the BLS states the job outlook for general administrative assistants is expected to decline over the next decade, there is expected to be an increase in jobs for medical secretaries and administrative assistants. According to the BLS, jobs are expected to increase by 10% between 2019 and 2029.
Where Do Medical Administrative Assistants Work?
Medical secretaries and administrative assistants can work in a variety of locations, depending on what type of job you want and what environment you want to work in. The main locations are medical offices or clinics, and hospitals. Medical offices provide more regular hours and one-on-one contact with patients, whereas hospitals can offer a more fast-paced environment.