Schools Training

Healthcare Jobs: Medical Receptionists and Medical Office Assistants

30 JAN 2012
Career Path : Healthcare

Picture a worried mom who has been up all night monitoring her child’s cough. Does she call her doctor directly? More likely, she calls his or her medical receptionist, who will listen to her concerns as she makes an appointment. In this sense, receptionists are at the frontlines of our health care system, acting as a liaison between patients and care providers.

Medical receptionists have a variety of duties, including:

  • answering the phone
  • taking messages
  • booking appointments
  • arranging beds
  • greeting and registering patients
  • answering questions, when appropriate
  • filing and retrieving patient records
  • calling pharmacists about prescriptions
  • keeping books
  • writing business correspondence
  • processing insurance claims
  • preparing forms for lab work
  • sending specimens to the laboratory
  • keeping track of inventory
  • interacting with suppliers
  • communicating with maintenance staff
  • relaying messages between doctors and patients
  • using word processors, spreadsheets and databases

It’s possible to become a medical receptionist straight out of high school, although some applicants prefer to seek additional training at the college level to improve their chances of finding and keeping a good job.

Those who do seek training can choose to specialize even further, by pursuing certification as a medical office assistant. Graduates of these kinds of programs can take a clinical as well as administrative role in a doctor’s office.

Additional Tasks Performed by Medical Office Assistants

In addition to seeing to the normal clerical duties of any office, medical office assistants may be called upon to:

  • position and drape patients
  • assist during patient exams
  • teach patients about treatments, conditions, etc.
  • transcribe doctors’ comments
  • help disinfect equipment
  • assess vital signs
  • perform CPR
  • administer basic First Aid

Working Conditions

Job conditions, notably working hours, depend on the place of employment:

  • doctors’ offices
  • hospitals
  • other healthcare services

Medical receptionists who work in hospitals may have to work outside of usual business hours, i.e., do shift work, whereas those who work in doctors’ offices may not.

Could this be the job for you?

Here are some questions to ask yourself before pursuing receptionist training.

Are you:

  • good with people?
  • empathetic?
  • independent?
  • organized?
  • detail oriented?
  • a good listener?

Then you may want to consider seeking receptionist training. Look for a nearby college where you can improve your keyboarding, word processing and telephone communication skills.

Receptionist training may also cover:

  • medical terminology
  • CV writing
  • math skills

Medical receptionists have an important role to play in our health system. They are the first point of contact between doctors and patients. They help patients, who are sometimes worried or stressed, access the care that they need in a timely manner.