The Complete Guide To Becoming A Medical Administrative Assistant
The healthcare and medical industries are growing much faster than other industries, and now is a great time to make a career change that will get you into this exciting line of work. Healthcare work is rewarding because it makes a difference in the lives of real people, but it is also a smart career path. You can expect to have job security and to earn a great salary as a medical administrative assistant.
There are many different types of careers in healthcare, and if you want to get involved but aren’t sure if you’re right for hands-on patient work, this career may be right for you. A medical administrative assistant works behind the scenes, helping to make sure doctors’ offices, clinics, and other medical facilities run smoothly. They play an important role in helping patients.
What is a Medical Administrative Assistant?
A medical administrative assistant’s role is similar to that of an administrative assistant or secretary in other settings, but it requires more specialized medical knowledge. The job involves performing administrative and office tasks that may range from filing to answering phones and scheduling procedures and appointments for patients. The role of the medical administrative assistant is to keep a medical office, clinic, or other similar setting running smoothly so that doctors, nurses, and others can help patients and ensure that their needs are met. Some of the duties of a medical administrative assistant include:
- Answering the phone.
- Scheduling appointments.
- Inventorying and ordering medical supplies.
- Managing, updating, and filing patient records.
- Processing insurance forms.
- Creating and processing invoices.
- Managing and sorting mail.
- Coordinating hospital admissions and lab services.
- Transcribing medical information.
- Preparing reports.
- Coding records for insurance billing.
- Billing insurance companies.
The duties of a medical administrative assistant may vary by job and office. In smaller medical offices, this role may encompass all of the above duties and even more. In larger offices, there may be more specialization and the administrative assistant may only work with patient records and scheduling or may specialize in billing and coding.
The Difference between a Medical Administrative Assistant and a Medical Receptionist
A medical receptionist is a different career from that of a medical administrative assistant. A receptionist greets patients and answers phones. He or she is the face of a medical office and the person that patients see first when they arrive. They have to answer questions and direct patients. A medical administrative assistant may do the job of a receptionist in some offices, but will also have other duties, such as managing patient records or billing and coding for insurance payments. To be a medical receptionist you do not need any advanced training. For that reason, the pay is less than for medical assistants.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Medical Administrative Assistant?
There are so many reasons why becoming a medical administrative assistant is a great idea for many people. From the great salary and numerous job opportunities to the ability to have meaningful work, there are a lot of benefits of this career and many reasons that people in this field love their jobs:
- A good, steady salary. If you are thinking of changing your career so that you can earn more and have a more regular and steady income, medical assisting is a great option. Medical offices need trained professionals and can’t hire just anyone, so you can earn more in this career than in other, non-skilled jobs. And, with such great demand in the field, you can count on job stability.
- Meaningful work. Another reason that people turn to careers in healthcare is that they want to do work that means something and that makes a difference in the lives of others. By helping medical centers and offices run more smoothly you will be making patients’ experiences more positive and helping to make them feel more comfortable.
- Healthcare work without being hands-on. For some this is not a benefit, but for those who want to make a difference for patients without doing hands-on medical work, being a medical administrative assistant provides that.
- Work anywhere. Demand is high for good medical assistants everywhere, including Florida. Every state in the country and every region has a need for more professionals that are trained and capable, so you can stay where you are or relocate.
- Get a great new career sooner. Other jobs in healthcare require even more training and schooling than those in medical assisting. By pursuing this career you can be done with school in two years or less and in a new and exciting job.
A Good Medical Administrative Assistant Has These Traits
While there are a lot of benefits to being a medical administrative assistant, this job isn’t for everyone. In addition to wanting these benefits of this particular medical career, it’s also important for you to consider what traits make a good administrative medical worker. Are you really cut out for this type of work, or will you find out too late that it just doesn’t suit you? Here are some traits and characteristics that the best medical administrative assistants have:
- The ability to work with people and work independently
- Good communication skills
- Excellent organizational skills
- Great time management
- Strong initiative and work ethic
- Problem solving skills
- The ability to follow directions
Training and Education Required to Be a Medical Administrative Assistant
Many of the traits of a good medical administrative assistant may be qualities you already have, but this job also requires learned skills, such as how to use medical office software. In most locations there is no official requirement for education, licensing, or certification to work in this career, but most employers will look to see that you received a good education and that you know the skills required to do the job.
Expect to need to earn some type of post-secondary certificate or degree in order to land a job as a medical administrative assistant. One of the most popular choices is an associate degree in medical assisting. This degree program will teach you the basic medical skills you need to work in a doctor’s office, including anatomy and physiology, medical office software, medical records management, pharmacology, and in some programs medical billing and coding. Certification is easy to get after completing a degree like this and may help you get a leg up in being hired for your first position.
Specializing in Medical Billing and Coding
The training required to become a medical administrative assistant does not have to include billing and coding, but having these skills can open up more job opportunities. Billing and coding refers to using a special code to translate medical records into documents that can then be used to bill insurance companies. In larger medical facilities you could be hired to do just billing and coding. In a smaller medical office, the hiring physician may be looking for a medical administrative assistant who can perform a variety of daily duties, including billing and coding.
The Market for Medical Administrative Assistants
Healthcare is a growing industry in general, with a growth rate that is much faster than average job growth for the entire U.S. All areas of healthcare are on the rise, which means there are great opportunities for professionals trained in all areas of medicine, including medical administrative assistants. The current growth rate for medical assistants in all states is 23 percent, with nearly 150,000 new jobs expected to be available between now and 2024.
The healthcare industry is growing everywhere, but it is especially big and growing even bigger in Florida. The state employs more medical assistants than all but two other states in the country. The importance of healthcare in Florida is related to the population and the percentage of the population that is aging and needs medical care. There are expected to be many more jobs available for medical administrative assistants in the state in the future.
How Much Do Medical Administrative Assistants Earn?
In 2014 the median annual salary for medical assistants, which includes both administrative and clinical medical assistants, was $31,540. A medical assistant can even earn more than $45,000 with experience, time on the job, and specialization. For instance, medical administrative assistants who specialize in medical records and health information can have salaries ranging from a median of $38,040 up to $62,840. In Florida, the mean annual salary for a trained medical assistant is $31,080. For a health information technician specializing in billing and coding, that annual salary goes up to $40,810.
Are you ready to become a medical administrative assistant? If you want to have a meaningful career you can be proud of, a steady and stable income, the ability to impact people’s lives every day in a positive way, and you want to be a part of healthcare, this career may be just right for you. Check out the medical assistant programs that are available to you as you start on the path to an exciting new career.