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How to Become a Medical Office Assistant in Canada

medical office assistant
Adriana Costenaro
Campus President, Bryan College
September 24, 2021

A medical office assistant, sometimes referred to as medical office administrator, is a growing career in a rewarding work environment. Medical office assistants are generally responsible for customer service within a medical practice, scheduling medical appointments, creating and maintaining confidential medical files, completing insurance and other claim forms, and supervising and training other staff in procedures and software use. Medical office assistants work in various healthcare settings, and many jobs offer flexible hours. With the demand for medical office assistants growing, you may find yourself considering a career in this fast-paced and engaging field.

If you want to become a medical office assistant in Canada, you will need to find a college program that specializes in this area. The program you select should prepare you to work in a variety of medical or healthcare-related offices. Once you have completed your program, you will be confident and knowledgeable with medical terminology and transcription, and proficient in using medical office software and technologies. You will also understand the administrative procedures and workflows within a medical or healthcare provider's office. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus, you'll want to verify that the program you select offers online coursework to keep you moving forward as government regulation may change.

Getting Started as a Medical Office Assistant

Once you decide to become a medical office assistant, you will need to obtain a postsecondary credential from an approved MOA program. The type of program you choose will be up to you, based on your financial situation, timeline, and the kind of program you want to complete. Most programs will lead to a diploma and generally take one year to complete. Some programs will offer hands-on experiences in addition to classroom coursework.

Medical Office Assistant Skills and Coursework

Coursework to become a medical office assistant will generally cover many of the job functions and skills that a medical office assistant would encounter within the workplace. A medical office assistant will use various office software applications and technologies in a healthcare provider's office. You'll want to look for a program that provides you with job-ready training using technologies and software programs that are used in the workplace. Proficiency in these medical technologies will be an invaluable skill for obtaining a future job.

Your program's coursework should also cover medical terminology, body systems and disease, and diagnostic and medical procedures. As a medical office assistant, you will not be performing any diagnostic or medical procedures in the workforce; however, understanding these procedures and being comfortable with what they entail will better prepare you for your job upon graduation.

A medical office assistant will perform a range of duties within an office. You'll want to confirm that your program will have coursework that prepares you to understand insurance and medical claim procedures and medical billing skills. This should include medical billing for WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) along with an understanding of medical records and insurance forms. You’ll also need to gain competency in medical transcription and medical inventory management.

While you learn all of the technical parts of the job, you will also want coursework that gives you experience with the soft skills needed in a medical office assistant career. These include greeting and managing patients during the intake process and utilizing effective written and oral communications with patients and other staff members.

Medical Office Assistant Program Timeline

A medical office assistant program will generally take around one year to complete. Most job opportunities will expect at least a certificate-level education. Currently, in Canada, there is no licensure or certification examination requirement for medical office assistants. If you plan to leave Canada after completing your program, you will want to look into any licensure requirements in the area you plan to reside.

Medical Office Assistant Career Outlook and Salary Potential

The job outlook for medical assistants is strong. Over the next ten years, there will be job growth due to the expansion of hospitals, medical provider offices and patient demand within the healthcare field. A medical assistant on average earns between $16.00 per hour and $29.00 per hour in Canada depending on experience. Specifically in Ontario, a medical office assistant can expect to make about $22.00 per hour on average.

Career Settings for Medical Office Assistants

Medical office assistants can work in various healthcare settings. With the proper education and preparation, they can transition directly into the workforce after completing their college program. The growing need for medical office assistants and their skills within diverse healthcare sites gives them the flexibility to work in the medical environment they prefer.

As a medical office assistant, examples of the different settings within the medical field include

  • Hospitals
  • Physician's offices
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Dental offices
  • Surgical centers
  • Behavioral health settings
  • College or university health settings

COVID-19 Compliance Considerations and Online Learning

When choosing a medical office assistant program, ensure that the educational provider is adhering to strict COVID-19 safety procedures and protocols. Another critical point to research is the program's ability to be completed online from home. With the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and government regulation, you’ll want to be confident that you can continue with your program without having to go to a campus if needed. The college should have an online Learning Management System (LMS) that provides secure and user-friendly access to coursework and curriculum, allowing you to complete your assignments online. You'll also want to research how comfortable the faculty are at teaching and supporting students online.

Taking the Next Steps into a Rewarding Medical Office Assistant Career

If you are interested in helping others, have an aptitude for technology and software, and enjoy working in a fast-paced healthcare environment, a career as a medical office assistant may be the right path for you. As a first step, consider speaking with others who work in the field who can provide you a real-world perspective and career advice.

Once you decide a medical office assistant career is a good fit, you'll want to choose an MOA program that’s right for you based on the recommendations provided above. As you research your options, also look for a program that provides job search and placement assistance for graduates. This will help you prepare for job interviews, gain confidence for your transition to the workforce, and get you connected to potential employers.

Finally, once you decide on a program, we encourage you to get started! The sooner you begin, the sooner you will finish and continue your path to a rewarding career. If you are interested in learning more about the medical assistant field, career opportunities, or the MOA program at Bryan College, feel free to call us at 888-641-6300 or visit our medical office assistant page today!

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