Schools Training

Becoming a Medical Office Assistant

14 JAN 2014
Career Path : Healthcare

A Medical Office Assistant is an integral part of the healthcare profession. It can be just as rewarding as other healthcare positions such as doctor or nurse.

No other career or line of work provides more satisfaction than that of healthcare. Helping people maintain their quality of life with good health, curing conditions and easing suffering is indeed the ultimate reward. When you think of healthcare careers, you probably think first of medical doctors, specialists and nurses. However, consider the career of Medical Office Assistant (MOA) as being a very important part of the healthcare team. Like stage hands working behind the scenes of a play, an MOA is an integral part of every medical facility.

Duties of a Medical Office Assistant

An MOA helps the medical office operate smoothly. The efficient office atmosphere created by an MOA is invaluable in that it enables medical professionals to attend to more patients. In smaller offices, they are often the first medical professional you will see after getting past the waiting room. They may expedite exams by taking vital statistics such as temperature, weight and blood pressure. For new patients, they may take and record a patient’s medical history.

Administrative duties are the biggest part of a medical office assistant’s job. They have prepared for these and other duties through healthcare courses taught at post-secondary and IT schools. They file records, perform accounting and insurance billing and purchase medical supplies for the office or clinics. They greet patients and schedule appointments. They may assist the doctor in an examination, especially acting as a chaperon during opposite sex exams.

The MOA coordinates referrals, does chart updates and performs lab test reviews. Generally, the duties of an MOA vary with the size of the medical facilitate they work at. MOAs who work in smaller clinical settings may be more trusted by doctors and given multiple roles whereas those in larger settings have more specialized roles in administrative or clinical work. Regardless of size, a medical facility cannot function without the medical office assistant.

Skills Necessary for the Medical Office Assistant

The MOA will need to have a good understanding of the medical language as they will interact with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals daily. This will help them communicate effectively. They must be well-organized as they often need to multi-task. They need to be attentive to detail and have good problems solving skills. They must also know when discretion is important as they will often be privy to patient information.

The MOA must have proficient computer skills and apply them to using medical scheduling and billing software. They need to be familiar with spreadsheet functions and basic word programs. They must also be able to adapt to new and ever-changing technology. They must know how to use basic clinical tools necessary to take a patient’s vital signs. Finally, they must be patient and compassionate, as patients will often times be in pain and not their usual selves.

How To Become a Medical Office Assistant

Although a high school diploma or the equivalency is all that is needed for an entry level position, many clinics and healthcare facilities today prefer some post-secondary training such as an associate’s degree or healthcare courses taken in a vocational school. High school students who hope to gain an entry level position with on-the-job training provided need to be sure to take classes in chemistry, biology and anatomy. Programs to become an MOA are available in community colleges, IT schools, vocational schools and universities. They take approximately one year to complete.

Some employers require MOAs to be certified. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits the following five certifications.

  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Registered Medical Assistant
  • National Certified Medical Assistant
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant

Visit the Academy of Learning College for more information about becoming a medical office assistant.