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What Is a Medical Office Assistant? An Overview of Job Responsibilities

medical office assistant
Enza Nikalaidis

Medical receptionist, medical office administrator, medical secretary: all are nicknames for the role of medical office assistant. In this role, you’d enjoy helping others through your medical expertise, taking on a variety of responsibilities. What exactly does a medical office assistant do?

Here are the job responsibilities of a medical office assistant:

  • Greeting patients
  •  Answering patient questions
  •  Managing medical inventory
  •  Making and sending invoices
  •  Processing all insurance forms
  •  Keeping the patient filing system current
  •  Scheduling appointments

In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into a medical office assistant’s job requirements and how to start this exciting career role.

What is a Medical Office Assistant and What are their Job Responsibilities?

Let’s get started by presenting a detailed overview of what a medical office assistant will do on the job from day to day.

Greeting Incoming Patients

When a patient comes in for an appointment, whether it’s a new face or someone you recognize, you’ll give them a warm greeting to create the proper ambiance and put their mind at ease that they’re about to receive exceptional medical service.

You’ll do this throughout the day as patients arrive for their appointments.

Assisting Patients with Appointment Forms

New patients often have to fill out a mountain of medical paperwork. If the patient needs any assistance or clarification, you’ll be available to help them so they can complete the form expediently.

Answering Patient Questions

It’s not only when it comes to completing forms that you’re available to answer patient questions as a medical office assistant.

Your duty is to assist the patients as they need it, and that means making yourself available in person, through email, and on the phone to answer questions.

You can also direct calls to the correct parties.

Transcribing Treatment Notes

When a patient receives treatment from a doctor or nurse, you will transcribe the patient’s treatment notes and all appointment documents too. This information will go into the patient’s file.

Managing Medical Inventory

As a medical office assistant, it’s your responsibility to stay up-to-date on what kind of medical inventory your hospital, doctor’s office, or medical facility has.

Before these items run out, you should order replacements so the medical staff never has to go without them.

Making and Sending Invoices

Although a patient’s insurance may cover the bulk of their services, they are instances where they have to pay for their medical care. Part of your role as a medical office assistant will be creating invoices for patients, vendors, and partners.

You’ll send out invoices and track which are paid and when. If you have to follow up about late invoices, you’ll do so.

Processing All Insurance Forms

When a patient checks in and shows you their insurance card after they fill out an insurance form, you will process it.

This will allow the insurance provider to receive the information they need to process the payment to ensure the appointment is covered.

Responding to Phone Calls and Emails

When new or current patients call, you will be part of the team that answers the calls. You might set up appointments over the phone, answer questions, or provide more information to guide a patient’s decision.

You’ll also maintain an email inbox throughout the day, responding to patients as quickly as possible to ensure patient satisfaction.

Keeping the Patient Filing System Current

Each time a patient comes in, their file will get bigger and bigger. You’ll add treatment transcriptions and other records to the file to ensure it’s current.

Scheduling Appointments

As mentioned, part of your job responsibilities as a medical office assistant is setting up appointments for new and long-term patients. You might go back and forth with them via email or phone to confirm the appointment.

Notifying Medical Staff About Upcoming Appointments

When a doctor or nurse has a patient on their schedule, you’ll remind them of the upcoming appointment so the doctor is ready.

This kind of timeliness can reduce a patient’s wait time, which is something they always appreciate.

How to Become a Medical Office Assistant

Now that you better understand what the job entails, are you interested in working as a medical office assistant? If so, how do you get started on this career path?

This section will tell you everything you need to know.

Enroll in a Medical Office Assistant Program

Once you’ve found the right college that offers a medical office assistant program, you’d apply to be a student. If you’re accepted, then you can enroll immediately for the upcoming semester.

Complete the Program

Now it’s time to obtain your education. In a medical office assistant program taught online, your coursework should cover must-know areas such as medical billing, medical and diagnostic procedures, scheduling and coordination, patient intake, and medical inventory management.

You’ll also learn about health insurance and medical records, medical administrative workflows and procedures, medical emergencies and how to handle them, medical transcriptions, medical terminology, and medical software.

By the time you graduate from the program with your degree, you’ll feel readier than ever to work as a medical office assistant.

Apply for Jobs

With your degree in hand, you can begin applying for medical office assistant jobs you find available.

The online education that you received in your medical office assistant program will make you a viable job candidate. You should get invited to many interviews!

Get Hired!

Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, then it’s just a matter of acing the interview as you impress the hiring manager with your knowledge.

When you’re hired, you can begin showcasing your depth of knowledge while continuing to learn and grow more and more.

How Quickly Can I Become a Medical Office Assistant?

If you want to get your career off on the right foot sooner than later, then you should be pleased to learn that it doesn’t take as long to become a medical office assistant as you might have thought.

While it varies depending on the college and program you select, you could graduate with a diploma in under a year, sometimes in as little as nine months!

You’ll be ready to take the world by storm as you begin working as a medical office assistant.

Is Being a Medical Office Assistant Hard?

You have one more question before making your career decision. Is it hard to work as a medical office assistant?

Well, it’s not a job without its challenges, but you could say that about any vocation.

Ultimately, the best way to prepare yourself for working as a medical office assistant is to pour yourself into your education. If you absorb all the information in your courses like a sponge, then you’ll learn a lot about being a medical office assistant.

You may feel inexperienced and uncertain as you get hired for your first job, but as you begin putting what you learned into practice, those jitters will fade.

You’ll build your confidence and eventually feel ready to tackle any curveballs that your job will throw at you.

As difficult as working as a medical office assistant can sometimes be (after all, the medical field is an extremely fast-paced one), keep in mind that this career path is also incredibly rewarding.

You’re helping people every day at your job and keeping the flow of your building and staff moving. You’re a valued part of your company!

Ready to Take Courses Online to Launch Your Medical Office Assistant Career?

Are you excited to begin a career as a medical office assistant? Bryan College and its medical office assistant program can get you graduated in under one year!

The program is 100% online components with at-home, hands-on training. You’ll learn everything you need to know for a career as a medical office assistant, and our Bryan College staff offers career development and job preparation assistance as well!

Upon graduating, you could be hired to work as a medical office assistant, hospital records administrator, medical secretary, or medical administrator in a hospital!

Financial assistance is available for those students that qualify. Contact us today for more information about Bryan College's Medical Office Assistant program.

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