Schools Training

Duties and Training of a Medical Office Assistant

16 JAN 2013
Career Path : Healthcare

A medical office assistant serves as the clerical support for a clinic, private practice or hospital. They have dual training in secretarial skills, but also an introduction to medicine to help them understand the work of the people they are supporting.



The medical office assistant is often on the front line when it comes to interacting with patients. The will book appointments, but also call to make sure patients actually show up. They may also be the ones to pass a simple diagnosis, and they’ll be maintaining and filing medical records. They will also handle medical billing, both standard government insurance schemes like Medicare, and the usually more byzantine bureaucracy of private coverage. At the apex of career growth, they could be the administrator for a mega-hospital, and add managing many other medical office assistants to their duties, but usually they’ll be a part of a small team.



To go with their duties, most medical office assistants will enroll in a program at a college to teach them the skills they need. Some will transition from a purely secretarial background, but healthcare courses are the norm. Those will give them a basic grounding in anatomy and body systems, medical procedures, healing needs, disability accommodation and so on. Generally their mix of clerical and healthcare courses will take less than a year, making it a popular second career for people who need to retrain fast.


Going Further

Medical office assistant positions are actually the tip of the iceberg when it comes to support roles in the healthcare field, but this initial training is also an excellent jumping off point for other careers. It will give you a good understanding of how medical systems operate and is complimentary for everything from learning to operate x-ray and other medical scanning machines, to a job with an insurance company. This will take additional retraining, so for example if learning to operate a CAT scan machine appeals to you, look for programming courses at an IT school, but you can often trade experience for credits towards your degree. Or, if you want a change of pace you would also be qualified to work in similar settings, say in a dental practice or a veterinary office.


People who are ideal for the job are comfortable working with the public, including with people who are sick or in distress, and want employment stability. Healthcare is a field with very constant, if increasing demands and doctors seldom go out of business. It also tends to be a career with a good work life balance, as there will be few instances where you will be expected to work more than fulltime hours, and some employers need only part time help.



Visit Academy of Learning College for more information on healthcare courses.